The Southern Region Referees Committee (SRRC) has suspended for six months three of its Grade One referees for accusing the committee’s leadership of misappropriating funds and demanding bribes from referees.
Harris Kajawo, Waneck Mlenga and Felix Nkhoma, who officiate Super League games, drew the wrath of the committee after reportedly authoring a letter accusing their leadership of corruption. The letter also touched on claims that some referees are involved in fixing matches.
“We demand the step down of the current fixtures committee due to corruption, biasness and inequitable treatment when allocating referees on various TNM Super League games,” reads in part the two-page letter issued by the disciplinary subcommittee chairperson Emmanuel Mlauzi on November 2 2013.
“An assessment has shown that the committee is too much involved in fraudulent misrepresentation each and every time they receive money from sponsors. In addition, this committee made a lot of mistakes, including sending six referees to officiate a single game.”
The three suspended referees reportedly also accused the SRRC top brass of demanding money from referees before allocating them in Super League.
“Therefore, you have been suspended and banned from taking part in refereeing for 181 days beginning from the day of this judgement. Please note that it will not be automatic for you to start taking part in refereeing after the expiry of the period of your suspension,” further reads the letter from SRRC.
The committee instituted the hearing after the three were accused of influencing Concerned Referees to author a letter mobilising other referees “to believe allegations levelled against some SRCC members. This is conspiracy.”
Kajawo, Mlenga and Nkhoma were also faulted for tarnishing refereeing image through acts of betrayal, poking their noses in other referees’ private affairs, ill behaviour during the hearing and also undermining Blantyre District Referees Committee.
The disciplinary subcommittee gave the accused 21 days—from November 2 2013 when they were penalised—to appeal against the ruling.
But in an interview, on behalf of his colleagues, on Sunday, Kajawo said they had instructed their lawyers to appeal against the ruling.
“They did not hear us out, but rushed to suspend us. They want to conceal the truth by suspending us,” he said while confirming making the corruption allegations.
However, SRRC dismissed the allegations as baseless, accusing the trio of bringing confusion in the region, adding: “It is the mandate of SRRC to protect the referees for the region from bad reputation.”
SRRC copied the suspension letters to their mother body, the National Referees Committee whose general secretary Chris Kalichero yesterday backed the punishment, saying there was an element of indiscipline in the suspended referees’ conduct.