NAIROBI, Kenya, November 18- A Kenyan referee is at the centre of the match-fixing scandal that has seen South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president, Kirsten Nemantandani and four other officials sent on forced leave.
In a game decided by three penalties, Samuel Langat a centre ref alongside countrymen David Sagero and Elias Kuloba were in charge of the friendly match between South Africa and Colombia in Johannesburg on May 27, 2010 won by Bafana Bafana 2-1.
Teko Modise and striker Katlego Mphela were the South African scorers and Giovanni Moreno converting his kick for non-qualifiers Colombia in a game that officially opened Soccer City, the venue of the World Cup final.
Three penalties for handball were then awarded by Niger referee Ibrahim Chaibou in the South Africa versus Guatemala on May 31 with world body FIFA seeking the referee for more than a year for questioning over his handling of several matches.
Bafana recorded their highest ever international victory since returning to international football by thumping Guatemala 5-0 in Polokwane where Mphela converted a penalty in each half.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane as well as second-half substitutes Surprise Moriri and Bernard Parker were the other scorers for a team that led 2-0 at half-time.
Other games under the match-fixing gaze include the May 16 4-0 rout of Thailand in Nelspruit and the May 24 1-1 draw against Bulgaria.
On Monday, SAFA president Nematandani was asked to ‘take a voluntary leave of absence from his position’, said the governing body, and four officials have been suspended.
The body also admitted it had been infiltrated by convicted match-fixer Wilson Perumal Raj and his company Football4U which fixed games for Asian betting syndicates.
It was Perumal who organised the referees for the contentious games as Bafana Bafana under Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Perreira build-up for the 2010 World Cup that South Africa hosted.
The shady games were in a sequence of a 13-match unbeaten run for Bafana before their World Cup group fixtures against Mexico, Uruguay and France.
‘The committee resolved to write to FIFA and acknowledge that, through the actions of members of its staff during the warm-up matches prior to the FIFA 2010 World Cup, there is a prima facie breach of FIFA Statute 13.1 (g), which prohibits the control of its affairs by an outside party, in this case Football 4U International controlled by Singaporean Wilson Perumal Raj and his criminal syndicate,” SAFA said in a statement.
“The committee also noted that the appointment of Football 4U International was never brought to the attention of the SAFA NEC. SAFA apologised to FIFA, and undertook to take the urgent and serious actions to deal with the matter,” the organisation added.
Besides the SAFA president, chief operating officer and interim CEO Dennis Mumble, head of referees Adeel Carelse, head of national teams Lindile Kika, and former head of national teams Barney Kujane, were also asked to take voluntary leave of absence after their names were mentioned in the Fifa report.
Former CEO, Lesley Sedibe, and the former Head of Referees, Mr Steve Goddard, will also be asked to give evidence and cooperate with the Enquiry.
Vice-President, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, will act as President in the interim.
MATCH-FIXING PROBE GAMES
16/05/2010 Nelspruit South Africa 4:0 (3:0) Thailand
24/05/2010 Johannesburg South Africa 1:1 (1:1) Bulgaria
27/05/2010 Johannesburg South Africa 2:1 (1:1) Colombia
31/05/2010 Polokwane South Africa 5:0 (2:0) Guatemala