Bantu vow to appeal

Bantu vow to appeal

MASERU- Bantu president John Leuta has defended the club’s honour after the defending Econet Premier League champions were found guilty of using fraudulently registered players by the Lesotho Football Association’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) this week.
The judgement was passed on Monday and delivers a damning indictment of Bantu’s actions accusing the club of securing illegal identity documents for four of its players.

The ruling was sparked by a protest brought by Lioli in December after a league match between the rivals.
‘Tse Nala’ accused Bantu of cheating by deceitfully registering four South African players as Lesotho nationals in order to comply with the Premier League’s foreign quota of five players.

After months of deliberations, LEFA’s DRC on Monday finally found Bantu guilty and awarded Lioli a 3-0 win for the sides’ December meeting – an outcome that hurts Bantu in the league standings but, more importantly, tarnishes the club’s reputation.
Speaking to thepost yesterday, Leuta said although ‘A Matšo Matebele’ “accept” the DRC’s judgement, they will appeal.
Leuta also admitted the ruling will have a negative impact on the club’s reputation but said Bantu have already moved to reassure their stakeholders and sponsors there is no corruption at the club.

“We have already informed our stakeholders and talked to them,” Leuta said. “Bantu is a big club. We urge the nation and the fans to stay calm. We will appeal the judgement. We assure the fans that the club will fight the judgement.”
The players at the centre of the storm are first team regulars Thabo Selisa and Itumeleng Falene as well as fringe players Pheko Molaoa and Matsipa Phumoha.

Premier League clubs are only allowed to have five foreign nationals on their books and Bantu registered South Africans Lazola Tjokotjokwana, Tsietsi Motšeare, Lindokuhle Phungulwa, Ramasimong Maloisane and Tsietsi Khooa for the 2017/18 season.
At the start of the campaign ‘A Matšo Matebele’ sold Congolese striker Nzenze Nkulu to Matlama partly in an effort to satisfy the criteria.

However, after Lioli lost 2-1 to Bantu in December at Ratjomose, ‘Tse Nala’ accused the log leaders of having even more foreigners who were registered in Lesotho using fraudulent documents or without obtaining international clearance certificates for their transfers as required.
Although Bantu lost the case, Leuta insisted the players were from Lesotho.

“The judgement is out and we have accepted it (but) we will appeal it because these are Basotho nationals. Let’s see what the judgement after the appeal will say,” he said. When Bantu’s appeal will come remains to be seen. What is clearer is this case may have uncomfortable aftershocks for Lesotho football.

As part of their evidence, Lioli provided LEFA’s DRC with a team list from 2015/16 of FC Hunters – a South African club that competes in the ABC Motsepe League in Free State – in which Selisa, Falene, Molaoa and Phumoha appear with their South African identity document (ID) numbers.
Lioli’s case also includes the players’ birth certificates and registrations for South African clubs.

One exhibit of Lioli’s evidence shows Falene to be born in South Africa and having played for FC Hunters in the 2015/16 season while there are also papers that show him as a Mosotho national born in Mafeteng.

In delivering its judgment, the DRC said the evidence submitted by Lioli showed that the players in question “appear to be South African nationals who were improperly registered in Lesotho on the strength of fraudulently obtained identity documents”. “(By) using these players (in addition) to the already registered five, Bantu exceeded the quota of foreign players allowed by the 2011 regulations,” the DRC added.

One of the issues that disturbed members of the panel most was the lack of paper trails when it comes to the players’ movements from previous clubs.
Falene, for example, is shown to have played in Lesotho before for lower league outfit Van Rooyen United yet there is no international clearance to validate his movements.

“After studying the evidence presented by both Lioli and Bantu on each player, the chamber was surprised at the fact that there is no paper trail illustrating how Falene who was registered with Mangaung United in 2011/12 season using a South African ID and then registered with Van Rooyen United in 2013/14 season and subsequently registering with Bantu in 2016/17 season. Bantu failed to produce the paper trail,” LEFA’s DRC said in its ruling.

“The chamber could not ascertain whether the player possessed an international registration transfer certificate when he moved from South Africa to Van Rooyen United in Lesotho,” the judgement added. In a similar fashion, Lioli’s evidence shows Selisa, Molaoa and Phumoha were registered for FC Hunters using South African documents which confirms they are South African nationals, the DRC said.

The panel found that “on a balance of probabilities” Bantu had “indeed contravened the provisions of Regulation 40.1 (of the Premier League) by registering four foreign players who did not possess international registration transfer certificates.”
“Further that,” the DRC added, “The respondent contravened the regulation 41.2 (of the Premier League) by registering more than five foreign players during the course of 2017/18 season.”

The DRC said Bantu used the players in question in their match against Lioli on December 17 and “gained (an) unfair advantage in (the) principle of fair play.” “The panel was disturbed that all the players (accused) except Phumoha, hold Lesotho national identity documents which were all issued in 2017 despite being South Africans who hold South African national identity documents,” the DRC said.

The panel recommended that LEFA’s National Executive Committee “follow and investigate if there is any illegality riddling the obtaining of the national identity documents and bring the culprits to book”.

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