Terrence Magogodela, the acting CEO of Athletics South Africa (ASA), finds himself in a precarious position even after repaying nearly R400,000 he used for personal expenses from a dubious lottery grant. Although he repaid the misused funds, his actions have led to ongoing legal scrutiny, and he could still face criminal charges. 

The initial grant, amounting to R15 million, was intended to finance the construction of an athletics track in Kimberley but needed to be adequately handled, sparking controversy and legal action.

Magogodela had a significant role at Inqaba Yokulinda, a non-profit designated to manage the lottery grant. He managed the project and directed a substantial part of the grant (R10 million) to Unicus Solu(IT)ons, owned by Jabu Sibanda. Contrary to the grant’s purpose, Sibanda used the funds for personal gains, including settling personal debts. 

The grant application included a document allegedly signed by ASA President Aleck Skhosana endorsing the project. ASA later contested this, stating that it did not align with their policies and that Skhosana had not signed it.

Following the misuse, Magogodela faced legal action from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). He agreed to repay the misappropriated amount but the SIU maintains the right to pursue further claims as needed. 

The preservation order on Magogodela’s property remains in place as a part of these legal proceedings, and there is an ongoing arbitration regarding the repayment terms agreed with Unicus.

This case is part of a broader investigation into lottery-related corruption, with the SIU pushing for criminal prosecution for several involved individuals. Within this context, ASA is considering whether to hold a disciplinary inquiry into Magogodela’s conduct. 

Despite assertions from his lawyer that no criminal charges are currently pending, the possibility remains open, and the situation is fluid.

Mismanagement by Unicus

Jabu Sibanda’s handling of the grant funds has been particularly egregious. Tasked with constructing the athletics track, he instead diverted the money to cover various personal expenses. 

This misuse of funds led Inqaba Yokulinda to terminate their contract with Unicus and demand the repayment of the entire misused R10 million, which Sibanda failed to return.

Despite the initial mismanagement, the project eventually reached completion in 2020. A new contractor was employed, who completed the athletics track mainly using local labour and for less than half the original budget. 

This phase included additional improvements like renovating the stadium and updating facilities, which were not initially funded by the grant.

Personal Threats and the Broader Implications

Buyisiwe Khoza, the director of Inqaba Yokulinda, faced significant personal challenges and threats after she began probing into the misused funds. Her experience underscores the significant personal risks individuals can face when challenging financial mismanagement and corruption.

The unfolding situation around the misused lottery grant at Athletics South Africa highlights critical governance and financial oversight issues. It underscores the need for stringent controls and transparent handling of public funds, especially those intended for community development and public benefit.

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