The executive team of the SA Gymnastic Federation (SAGF) was “treated like royalty” at the Manhattan Hotel in Pretoria during the 2014 African gymnastics championships, but flatly refused to pay their bill of more than R2.5 million, the High Court in Pretoria has heard.
The hotel’s managing director Nico Rowan testified that he would never have allowed the federation’s VIPs to book into his hotel if he had known the bill would not be paid.
Rowan said he was a patriot and did not want to cause an international scandal to South Africa’s detriment by refusing to accommodate the VIP delegates and gymnasts. He said although the hotel had demanded prepayment for the guests, he was placated by a letter stating that there was a delay in payment, but that the championship’s sponsor Algrodex would make full payment of the hotel bills.
VIPs and four independent German experts who attended the championships stayed at the Manhattan hotel while the gymnasts stayed at the Burgerspark hotel, but none of the bills were ever paid. Manhattan not only provided accommodation, but also transport, spoiled VIPs with goody bags, hosted a VIP cocktail function and paid the entrance fees at the Pretoria Zoo for a day visit by the gymnasts.
In addition, it also paid other service providers for corporate gifts, the filming and broadcasting of the championships, translation services and for performances at the opening ceremony.
Manhattan is now suing the SAGF for the outstanding bill, claiming the federation was ultimately responsible to pay for the accommodation as the participating federations had paid 50 Euro a delegate per day into the SAGF’s bank account for accommodation costs of the gymnasts. The SAGF flatly denied it was liable to pay anything and said Algrodex was responsible.
The federation insisted that the Manhattan had concluded an agreement with Algrodex and that members of the management committee appointed to oversee the championships did not have a mandate to act on the SAGF’s behalf, but were acting on behalf of Algrodex when the agreement was concluded.
The hotel insisted the federation had a legal duty to disclose to them that Algrodex was not contractually obliged to the SAGF to pay any expenses on their behalf and already knew in February 2014 that Algrodex would probably not be in a position to pay for accommodation.
The civil claim continues.