Rugby union must pay up for chairs

Fans during the Absa Currie Cup match between Ford Pumas and MTN Lions from Puma Stadium on September 02, 2011 in Witbank, South Africa.Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images

The Mpumalanga Rugby Union’s attempt to pass the buck to the Nkangala municipality to pay for  new chairs installed at the Puma Stadium in 2010 has failed.

North Gauteng High Court Judge Cynthia Pretorius on Monday this week ordered the rugby union to pay close to R287 000 to Khanda Seating (Pty) Ltd and dismissed the Pumas’ attempt to hold the Nkangala municipality responsible for the debt.

The union, which pleaded poverty when asked to settle the account, has also saddled itself with a massive bill for legal costs.

The rugby union’s CEO Koos Kruger received a tongue lashing from the judge who described him as an unsatisfactory witness who was vague, incoherent and elusive when questioned about the terms of an alleged agreement between the union and the municipality.

Khanda Seating maintained Kruger had approached them to install over 2600 new seats at the Puma Rugby stadium before the match between South Africa and Italy in June 2010 and gave them the go-ahead to install the seats.

The company pulled out all stops to have the seats installed within three, instead of the usual eight weeks, but never received a cent in return They insisted Kruger never told them there was a third party involved and never requested them to send quotes or invoices to the municipality.

However the rugby union claimed their agreement had been that the municipality would pay for the chairs.

Kruger in his evidence conceded that he had failed to amend the quotes and order to reflect the third party’s details, but insisted everybody knew he was acting on behalf of the municipality all along.

Judge Pretorius rejected Kruger’s evidence that he “thought” he had authorisation from the municipality and said it was clear that he only had authority to obtain quotes, but not to enter into any agreement regarding the supply of the chairs.

She said the undisputed evidence was that all expenditure above R200 000 had to be put out to tender, which would also have applied in the case of the chairs.

She accepted evidence from municipal officials that a request for new seating had been rejected and that Kruger had indicated he would engage with Loftus about second hand chairs but never came back to them.

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