Sehlabaka faces ban for fraud

Sehlabaka faces ban for fraud

Maseru – Lesotho’s most decorated basketball coach, Bokang Sehlabaka, of Lichocha Shooting Rifles, faces a 20-month ban from all basketball activities after he pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud, thepost has learnt. In the main charge, Sehlabaka is accused of embezzling club funds totalling close to M5 900 of which M1 100 was for the club’s 2016/17 season registration while close to M4 800 was for Lichocha’s winnings at the Sprite Summer Slam Basketball Tournament last December.

Sehlabaka is also accused of using his role as club president to unlawfully receive and spend the club’s money.
He subsequently appeared before the Lesotho Basketball Association’s (LBA) Ethics Committee and was found guilty of breaching the LBA’s code of ethics.
In February this year Lichocha wrote two separate letters to the basketball mother body asking them to intervene and help them recover their monies from Sehlabaka.
The same letters notified the LBA of Sehlabaka’s immediate suspension from his post as club president.

A disciplinary committee was then set up by the LBA made up of a three-member panel in the tribunal and a three-member panel in the ethics committee.
One of the members who heard Sehlabaka’s hearing spoke on condition of anonymity and said it was clear from the onset that Sehlabaka was guilty of all the charges brought against him.
The member said the tribunal found it difficult to deal with Sehlabaka during his hearings as he was “arrogant, selfish and had an attitude” throughout the process.
“We separated this matter into three (charges) because we realised it was a big issue and he was found guilty of embezzling the club’s funds that amounted close to M4 800 from the club’s winnings at the Summer Slam, and also the club’s registration for 12 players. But he could only admit to taking money from 10 players not 12. There was insufficient evidence on the other two so we had to let it go and focus on 10 players,” the source said.

“We also found (Sehlabaka) guilty of receiving the club’s money as the president due to LSR constitution, which states that only the treasurer can receive money and he admitted to have received the money and pleaded guilty,” the source continued. After being found guilty, Sehlabaka was offered an opportunity to explain how he would repay the money but he was not cooperative and allegedly claimed he could take up to 20 months to pay back the M5 900 he is accused of stealing from the club.

Sehlabaka was then taken to the ethics committee where the source said it became clear he had breached the ethics that govern the LBA.
“He was not cooperative at all, he was arrogant and he said he needs 20 months to pay back the money because the truth is he is guilty and has to pay back the money,” the source said.
A source in the ethics committee said it was clear Sehlabaka did not uphold the principles that govern the LBA which include fairness, honesty and discipline.
After the hearing the committee wrote a report and recommended a 20-month ban from the sport and handed it over to LBA president Molupe Mothepu.

The president is expected to present the report to the LBA’s executive which will have the final say on the punishment to be given to Sehlabaka.
However, several members of Lichocha, who spoke to thepost on condition of anonymity, said they are afraid Sehlabaka might get a lesser punishment than the one recommended in the report as he has friends in the LBA executive.

Their fear stems from accusations that Sehlabaka has previously helped himself to roughly M7 000 that was meant to run a high school league in Roma and nothing happened to him.
“He has got friends in high places and he might get a lesser punishment even though it is clear that he is wrong and has been practising unfairness for a very long time,” said one member.
“It is not good for sport, not good for LBA. I mean this guy was accused of misuse of association funds in 2007. He was told to pay – nothing happed.”

Luciah Phahla

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