Graeme Joffe shuts up shop, sings to US officials – here’s why | Fin24
 
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Graeme Joffe shuts up shop, sings to US officials – here’s why

Jul 31 2015 14:12

Joffers my boy – a common reference amongst sports lovers listening to the radio. But how times have changed. Graeme Joffe went into hiding and now finds himself living in the US, where he used to work as an international sports anchor for CNN years ago. We carried a Sport 24 report last week in which Joffe expressed gratitude for the extensive public support he received on and off social media. He gave reasons as to why he felt threatened enough to flee. In this heartfelt piece Graeme Joffe talks about life as a South African and what exactly led to his secret getaway. A real loss to South African sport, which affirms the length and depth of corruption in this country. – Stuart Lowman

Letter from Graeme Joffe

“Hambani Kahle” …

That’s the little bit I still remember from my high school days and don’t laugh, I actually got a distinction for Zulu in Matric.

As for the other subjects, don’t ask.

A “D” for Maths and an “E” for Science may have been courtesy of some generous marking as I don’t think a school could have their Head Boy staying back for another year.

The five years at Highland North Boys High were some of the best years of my life and I am humbled by the Old Boys and so many others who have rallied to support me during what I can only describe as the worst four months of my life.

(Facebook)

This Facebook page says it all:

I say goodbye with a very heavy heart but the events over the last four months have made me realize, you can’t beat systemic corruption. The SA sports system is corrupt from top to bottom.

When there was an attempt by a sports media company to blackmail me on twitter at the beginning of 2012, that’s when I started to dig. They had too much to lose and it was going to be much easier to just to try and defame and discredit me.

On Monday 27 July 2015, I received a legal threat from that same company for an expose I did on them last week in SportsFire Daily.

I scurried to get some legal advice – I was given a couple hours to trigger a response and I was supposed to be in the Cape Town High court 24 hours later. Kind of tough when you’re over 8,000 miles away in the United States.

They knew it. This was about the tenth legal threat I had personally received in the last two years and where do you draw the line?

I don’t have the backing of a publication or media house – I’ve had to fight this alone with my own expense and time.

No regrets whatsoever. It was my obligation as a sports journalist to expose all this corruption, maladministration, nepotism and blatant racism.

But this last effort to bully and silence me was the icing on the cake. It lit up the candles to say: You’ve tried for three and a half years to fight against the grave injustices the South African sportsmen and women face every day.

You now need to look after Graeme. So many people told me I was going down a dangerous path as an investigative sports journalist, they were right but I had my blinkers on.


I wanted to win this fight for all the athletes, who are silenced by draconian codes of conduct.

I was consumed for the three and half years, I was a lone crusader, very alone.

There is no culture of investigative sports journalism in SA as it’s more lucrative to be on the good side of the Sports Ministry, SASCOC and Federations with the big bucks. You get free trips, meals and don’t get blacklisted like me.

I missed nothing. If I had to attend the one night, R70 million SA Sports Awards every year or spend time in the luxury VIP suites at the cricket or rugby stadia, I wouldn’t be true to myself and I’d need a big vomit bucket.

We really do have some of the most corrupt, disgusting sporting officials on the very top bunks of the gravy train. When SASCOC sued me personally for defamation in 2013 for R21 million, I came close to throwing up but it made me more aggressive and determined to expose the filth for that they really were.

But I was still alone. I had several journalists from Print and TV asking me to share the information I had on the corrupt mob.

I shared hours upon hours, giving, giving and giving. I was foolish to think they would join my exclusive R21 million defamation club.

SASCOC’s attempt to bully and silence me has the desired effect on the other sports media who were contemplating exposes. I saw conflict of interests with no shame.

The “untouchables” in SA sport are getting a free ride from journalists and some media houses who don’t want to lose their freebies. “Conduit City” is a place where no sports media really wants to go but dig a little around the Sports Trust, Gride Investments and the various bid companies and you will be swimming in financial irregularities.

Did I say swimming?

Okay, don’t let me go there! The tragedy is that some of SA’s biggest corporates are in bed with the “untouchables” and well known audit companies cover up the Chinese accounting.

They have each other’s backs! It works in a corrupt system.

The National Lottery Distribution Agencies is a home to some of the most corrupt in SA sport. Grant applications and fraud that gets dirtier by the month. I should have known that exposing the Lottery corruption was the same as playing with the Lions balls.

The Lion roared in November 2014.

Out came an anonymous, defamatory blog registered using my name and a fake London address. The bloggers were smart – the domain holders in Panama won’t give you ice in winter. Their clients are top secret.

The few brave sponsors on SportsFire Daily were sent anonymous tweets with links to the blog. The scum bloggers (apologies for the word but that’s what they are) had a game plan to cut me off at the knees.

Some sports journalists are behind the blog and their day will come. I would never have taken on the impossible challenge of trying to make a change in SA sport if I had a wife and kids.

It would have been selfish of me to put them in harm’s way – the corrupt have too much to lose and are very vindictive by nature. Harm was on its way the night of the 17 April 2015.

That’s the night I got the dreaded call from the acquaintance who had hired a private investigator to assist me about the imminent threat to my safety.

A PI shouldn’t have been needed but when your cell-phone is illegally tapped, emails hacked, receive abusive threats from the Department of Sport and Recreation on twitter and the file of the criminal case I opened at Sandton SAPS last December mysteriously disappears after one day – who do you turn to?

At the beginning of this year, I also sent numerous emails to the Public Protector’s office and SA National Editors Forum (SANEF) but I guess a white whistle-blower, working on his own doesn’t fit the profile for a response, let alone assistance.

Those behind the threats to my safety may think they’ve gotten away with it and got their wish to get me out of the country. The wheel may turn slowly but it does turn.

I met with some law authorities in the USA yesterday. It was a breath of fresh air and got a mountain of evidence off my back.

They care! “Mr Joffe, we are here to protect you.”

I’ve made a lot of enemies along the way but picked up so many new friends, who share my passion for what’s right and wrong and want to see a future for SA sport.

Right now with those in charge led by an arrogant, clueless Sports Minister, there is no future – I’ve seen too much and the results will show. We will always have world class athletes in SA but we will always be perennial under achievers on the international stage.

For what we have in talent, finance and facilities, we should be getting 25 medals at the Olympic Games.

Instead, we get six medals and the Sports Ministry with some opportunistic media partners spend millions on a parade through Sandton to celebrate mediocrity.

It’s mediocrity only because of corrupt, greedy officials lining back pockets with public monies to feed their own lavish lifestyles. The funds are not reaching the intended destination of the athletes and coaches.

I would love to keep on fighting and exposing the corrupt every day with SportsFire Daily but I can’t go on.

It’s time for me to move on and start to live again. However, my job is not done.

I will continue to write now and again on www.sportsfire.co.za – as well as Facebook and twitter @joffersmyboy

To all my family, friends and fans, I have been humbled by your support on this journey.

Some friends have gone more than the extra mile for me – you know who you are and I can’t thank you enough. I left SA with a suitcase and a laptop – I thought those were my worldly possessions.

But in fact, they’re not. My true worldly possessions are what my late father (a true gentleman) instilled in me as a young kid:

“Integrity and that everyone in life deserves a fair chance.”

SA’s sportsmen and women are not getting a fair chance!

Hambani Kahle!

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