. . . as DISPROCO calls for fraud probe
PREMIER League giants, Bantu, are in trouble with the football authorities after the Disputes and Protests Committee (DISPROCO) of the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA), adjudged that the club violated football rules and regulations by unlawfully registering four South African nationals.
The judgement in possession of the Lesotho Times also indicates that some of the players may face criminal charges after the DISPOCO established that they have fraudulent Lesotho identity documents.
However, the Lesotho Mounted Police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, said his office was not aware of the case but said they would follow it up if it was reported.
Attempts to get hold of the Minister of Home Affairs, Tsukutlane Au, were fruitless as he did not answer his phone.
Local clubs are allowed to register a maximum of five foreign players but the panel has since established that Bantu registered five legally and at least four more illegally.
Bitter rivals, Lioli lodged a protest on 18 December 2017 following their clash at Ratjomose Barracks, where Tse Nala protested that Bantu fielded four players, namely, Itumeleng Falene, Thabo Selisa, Khotso Molelengoana and Lebohang Nkeane illegally.
Lioli further amended its protest by substituting Molelengoana and Nkeana with ‘Molaoa Pheko and Phumoha Matsipa.
The matter has been before, DISPROCO who this week also called for an investigation by the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) after establishing that the players hold both Lesotho and South African identity documents.
“In conclusion, this panel finds that the Applicant has discharged, on a balance of probabilities, the onus that rested, squarely on its shoulders that indeed the Respondent team contravened the provisions of regulations by registering the above four foreign players who did not possess international registration transfer certificates,” the judgement said.
It said Bantu had in the 2017/18 season contravened Regulation 41.2 which stipulates that a local club is only permitted to register at most five foreign players.
“Consequently, the respondent team used said players in the match played between the parties herein on the 17th December 2017 at Ha Ratjomose playgrounds and therefore gained an unfair advantage against the principle of fair play which forms the cornerstone of the beautiful game of soccer.
“However, before concluding this judgement, we must mention that this Panel is perturbed by the issues revealed by the evidence herein. The Panel has noted with concern that all the players complained of, with the exception of Matsipa Phumoha, hold Lesotho national identity documents which were all issues in 2017.
“This is despite the fact that these players are clearly South African nationals who registered and played for Free State clubs. They also hold South African national identity documents.
“The only document we were supplied with in respect of Matsipa Phumoha is a baptismal certificate from New Church of God in Mafeteng. However, he also has a South African national identity documents.”
DISPROCO said it was untenable that one player can be a citizen of different countries and recommended that the National Executive Committee of LeFA investigate the matter so that any illegality riddling the obtaining of the national identity documents, the culprits could be brought book.
The judgement also awarded Lioli three points and three goals from the concerned match.
“In this result, this protest succeeds and the Applicant team is awarded the three (3) points and the three (3) goals of the match played on 17th December,” it said.
Contacted for comment, Bantu chairman, John Leuta, said his club would first study the judgement and would respond in due course.