ZIFA has banned two of its officials in Masvingo for five years and ordered them to pay back over US$5 000 to four Ghanaian players whom they swindled after promising them employment at a “highly-paying” football club.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
Masvingo provincial vice-chairperson Energy Zava and Tinashe Gomba from the finance division appeared before the Zifa disciplinary committee on August 7, 2020 and were found on the wrong side of the law.
The matter came to light after it was reported by NewsDay Sport in April this year that the Ghanaian players were stranded in Chiredzi where they were living in squalid conditions after being abandoned by the people who invited them into the country.
The disciplinary committee noted that the officials’ actions had an element of forgery, fraud and human trafficking. The duo misrepresented themselves to the footballers.
In so doing, they violated Zifa statutes, rules and regulations and put the name of the organisation into disrepute.
The pair chose not to respond to the allegations or attend the hearing and the verdict was handed down in their absence.
In passing the ruling, the disciplinary committee noted that the two had committed a serious crime which was tantamount to human trafficking.
“The deeds of the accused persons are no different from the criminal contact of human traffickers. Young and innocent footballers between the ages of 23 and 24 years were plucked from their families and homes and further swindled of money through elements of misrepresentation, fraud and forgery and dumped without proper accommodation, medical aid or care and turned into beggers in a foreign land,” the vedict read in part.
The two officials were ordered to pay US$1 300 to each of the four Ghanaians.
“The first and second accused persons are ordered to contribute equally in restituting US$1 300 to each of the following Ghanaian players; Nelson Atsu Adenyo, Peter Tibilla, Francis Adjetey and John Adu Poku. A total of US$5 200 to be given in cash within 30 days of the issuing of this order,” the judgment read.
The four Ghanaian footballers are still holed up in the Makondo area of Tshovani high-density suburb in Chiredzi after a travel ban due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from travelling back home.
They were misled by Gomba and Zava through a fake letter purported to have been signed by Wellington Muchemwa, the former provincial football boss.
Muchemwa denied ever penning the letter inviting the players to a non-existent club called Khaya Africa FC supposedly based in Chiredzi. He said his signature was forged.