Why SARU are 'biding their time' on Jurie Roux saga
UPDATE: The Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa may want a ‘speedier’ end to the Jurie Roux saga, but the South African Rugby Union have to “follow the letter of the law”.
This was the crux of the SARU appearance before the Parliamentary Sports Portfolio committee on Tuesday.
Unlike the court of public opinion – where SARU and the CEO (Roux) have already been found guilty – the national body has to go through a painstaking process to avoid future legal challenges.
Roux’s long-standing legal battle with his former employer, the University of Stellenbosch, was the headline matter dealt with by SARU.
The bulky SARU delegation included President Mark Alexander, Deputy President Francois Davids, board member Mimi Tau, Pat Kuhn, Hennie Baartman, Randall September, Abubakar Saban and Christo Ferreira.
Alexander confirmed that a ‘specialist legal team’ and a sub-committee – consisting of Louis von Zeuner, Sam Ngumeni and Mary-Anne Musekiwa – are dealing with the Jurie Roux matter.
He added that the legal process is still underway and they are “not delaying” the process.
While the matter has played out very publicly in the media, they were required to obtain a detailed and comprehensive legal opinion.
“It requires of us to follow ‘due process’ in consideration and deliberation,” the SARU President told the committee.
“The ExCo [Executive Committee of SARU] cannot ignore these duties.
“SARU cannot be deemed to be above the law and act outside the confines of this legal process.”
He cautioned against “exposing the organization” by playing out the matter in the public domain and the media.
“We have to allow this [process] to follow this route to its natural conclusion,” Alexander said, adding: “We have to protect the integrity and the future of the organization, given that it could open itself to unnecessary claims.
The SARU boss said that while they are not presenting the actual legal documents in the public domain, they have presented a “full copy” of the legal documents to the office of the minister of Sports, Arts and Culture minister, Mthethwa.
“We cannot play this out in the public domain, because the process has not been completed and we cannot expose the organization in any form,” Alexander added.
The SARU boss then presented a timeline of the Jurie Roux saga, since his appointment.
“What this timeline demonstrates is that every decision made by the executive was in line with corporate governance and the discharging of fiduciary duties.
Alexander’s presentation revealed that at the time of his appointment as SARU CEO there were no charges against Roux.
However, 37 months later, Roux advised SARU of the potential legal action by his former employee – the University of Stellenbosch.
At the time, a legal opinion from the Western Cape bar suggested it was not possible for them to suspend the employee – Roux.
“We resolve that will wait for this case to unfold and as it unfolds, will make a decision as and when,” Alexander said.
The SARU boss made it clear they have not been ‘sitting on their hands’, but have been active in dealing with the matter.
It was also confirmed that they have spent ZAR943,000 on ‘legal consultations’ in the Roux saga – to protect the union and not on Roux himself.
(Continue below …)
The minister, Mthethwa, expressed his appreciation for the manner in which SARU was dealing with the matter, even though he was keen on a speedy resolution.
However, he admitted it must be a “legally secure” resolution.
“Action must be taken on this particular matter and with urgency,” the minister said.
“I would say that this matter is damaging the image of rugby and there’s no doubt about that.
“That’s why we’re emphasising this.
“We’re not saying they shouldn’t do things legally, but we want to see an accelerated pace and we want to see action taken.”
Alexander admitted the matter is painted in a ‘negative’ picture of the union, but was adamant protecting the organisation is imperative.
He hinted that if the matter is played out in the public domain, it could lead to a case of ‘constructive dismissal’.
“That would give [Jurie] Roux a different avenue to follow and could cost us an arm and a leg,” Alexander added.
He spoke of protecting SARU against ‘legal principles and privileges’.
“We’re not delaying the report,” the SARU President added.
The entire Jurie Roux timeline is below …
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