BY FORTUNE MBELE
FINER details of how Herentals fixed a league game against army side Black Rhinos last October have emerged after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) released the full judgment.
Herentals, who were fined ZWL$300 000 and relegated from the topflight league, are contesting the verdict.
The club, which has since been ordered to pay the costs of the hearing, would also be banned from any football-related activities for the next 10 years if the fine remained unpaid by January 31, twelve days ago.
Manager Oliver Chirenga, who the club denies is a club official, was fined ZWL$20 000 and banned for 10 years from all football-related activities while the US$300 exhibit produced during the hearing was forfeited to the PSL.
The case is premised on an affidavit deposited by Black Rhinos player Kudzanai Gift Saunyama, who claimed that Chirenga had approached him to fix the match between the two sides, which he communicated to his coach Hebert Maruwa.
Maruwa is said to have asked Saunyama, who is a former Herentals player, to accept the money which would be used as an exhibit.
“On the same day and at the appointed time, Chirenga approached Saunyama at his home and true to Saunyama’s suspicion he requested him to organise the fixing of the Black Rhinos vs Herentals match which was set to be played on October 19, 2019 at the National Sports Stadium,” part of the judgment read. “The affidavit states that Chirenga stated that he was looking for three or five players from Black Rhinos whom he would pay US$200 each or more if they successfully fix the match. He says he falsely agreed to assist him and promised to give him feedback the following day. On the following day, the 16th of October 2019, Saunyama reported what had happened to his head coach and told him that Chirenga had proposed to meet him again at his home for purposes of making a down payment of the money that was to be used to pay the players. The balance of the figure, which was yet to be agreed upon, was to be paid after the match. The coach advised Saunyama to accept the money and bring it to the club so that it can be used as an exhibit. Chirenga did not turn up with the money as had been agreed. He did not call and there was no further communication from him.”
According to the judgment, the match was played and Black Rhinos lost 3-0 and the army side made its own investigations where players and officials were interviewed.
Black Rhinos manager Gift Kamuriwo is said to have confessed receiving US$300 from Chirenga at the intersection of Samora Machel and Chinhoyi Street on October 18 to be shared equally among three players for them to influence the results of the match with a balance of US$300 to be paid after the game.
“This (defeat) prompted an investigation into the match-fixing allegations at Black Rhinos Football Club. According to Kamuriwo, players and officials were subjected to questioning by the Zimbabwe National Army’s unit known as SIB. The questioning took place over a few days at One Commando Barracks. As the investigations continued, Kamuriwo decided to own up and confessed that he had been approached and had indeed received money to fix the match. He says what motivated him to confess was that he could not bear the sight of players being wrongly accused of having been paid to fix the match when it was him who had received the money. He handed over to the investigators the US$300 which had been paid to him. He decided to confess on his own before being interviewed. His narration of events is contained in an affidavit dated November 15, 2019,” the verdict says.
Kamuriwo, however, said he did not influence the outcome of the game, but converted the US$300 balance to his own use.
Black Rhinos wrote a letter of complaint to the PSL and on November 25, Herentals were summoned to appear before a disciplinary committee.
Herentals had denied the charges, arguing that Chirenga was only a supporter and did not hold any other position within the club structures.