Friday Apr 07, 2023. 15:00
South African Football Association (SAFA) football manager Mzwandile Maforvane has shed more light on the circumstances that led to two Marumo Gallants officials being detained in Libya.
Gallants media officer Rufus Matsena and physiotherapist Tebogo Dhlomo have been stuck in Benghazi since the 4-1 defeat to Al Akhdar at the Benina Martyrs Stadium in the CAF Confederation Cup on March 19.
Bahlabane Ba Ntwa sought assistance from Libyan businessman Ali Elzargha after experiencing problems with their flight to the North African country.
Dylan Kerr’s squad flew to Istanbul, Turkey but weren’t allowed to make a connecting flight to Benghazi due to not having invitation from the Libyan FA, which only arrived after they’d already departed.
Elzargha had arranged for a private plane to fly Gallants to LIbya and supplied them with a new kit after theirs went missing along the way, as well as transport around Benghazi.
However, the Limpopo outfit baulked at the cost of the services rendered, which amounted to $35,000 (R640,000), with Matsena and Dhlomo effectively being held hostage after they weren’t able to foot the bill.
Maforvane stated that Gallants have settled the hotel expenses but they are trying to determine the “exorbitant” fee charged for Elzargha’s assistance.
“We have been engaging [Gallants] on this issue from when it started. At first it seemed the officials were staying [in Libya] to make a payment,” he told Marawa Sports Worldwide.
“Given the inconvenience Marumo experienced with their flight bookings to Libya, it was necessary for the two to remain to pay an outstanding account, only to find later that the amount was so exorbitant they could not afford it.
“My understanding is they tried to meet the guy [Elzargha], because the guy is not able to state how he came up with a figure [for the flight tickets and other assistance he provided] of $35,000 (R640,000).
“I understand the money keeps increasing because lately he was talking about $37,000 that they owe. The hotel expense was $6,000, which they have settled. When they got the invoice from the owner of the hotel for $35,000 they had to engage the airline to find out how much was paid, which was [also] $6,000.
“They understand the owner had to make an extra [effort to assist them] and they are prepared to pay him something extra, but how he got to $35,000 is not in their understanding.”