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Markus Jooste connection places Sun Met in protest firing line

Jan 04 2018 12:26
Jan Cronje

Cape Town - The Public Servants Association (PSA) on Thursday said it would protest the upcoming Sun Met horse race after it received information that horses co-owned by former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste will be taking part. 

“In our view, Jooste will still be part of the horse racing fraternity and will continue to make millions while he managed to lose billions in investments of public servants,” PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks said in a statement. 

“Jooste has seen no repercussions for his actions, while public servants’ hard-earned pension money cannot be recouped. We call on all public servants and other affected stakeholders to join the protest march to call for stronger action to be taken against Jooste.”

Sun Met did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The glamorous race is set to take place on January 27 at the Kenilworth Racecourse.

The PSA said that the National Horseracing Authority (NHRA), South Africa's regulatory and governing body of horse racing, had informed it that Jooste, a well-known racing enthusiast, had resigned as a board member of the authority and “relinquished all privileges and colours of his horses”. 

“The NHA relayed that Jooste is in the process of selling all his horses and has assured the PSA that his horses will not be taking part at the Sun Met.”

However, the trade union said it had received information that the horses the NHRA reported on are “owned solely by Markus Jooste and not those that he co-owns with other partners”.

“We also call on our local celebrities and politicians to boycott the event in support of those who have lost their investments and in solidarity to root out corruption,” said Fredericks.

The NHRA did not immediately reply to a request for comment. In a statement on its website, the authority said that Jooste had relinquished his racing colours and resigned as a member of the authority.

The PSA, meanwhile, added it had written to Steinhoff to ask for a number of different company reports, registers of directors and financial statements. 

The Steinhoff connection 

Steinhoff's share price has suffered a precipitous decline since its board announced on the evening of Tuesday December 5 that Jooste was stepping down “with immediate effect”.

Steinhoff’s board also announced that PricewaterhouseCoopers would conduct an independent investigation into its books after “accounting irregularities requiring further investigation”.

In the month since the news broke, shares in Steinhoff International, the global furniture conglomerate's parent company, have lost over 85% of their value.

This has radically decreased the group’s market capitalisation, and cost the Public Investment Corporation about R18bn. The PIC, which manages the assets of and invests on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund, has a 10% stake in Steinhoff. 

Jooste was for many years a director of Mayfair Speculators, a racehorse company. He resigned last month. 

In mid-December ABSA approached the Western Cape High Court to request the provisional liquidation of Mayfair, saying it owed the bank R226m.

The case has been postponed for hearing on the semi-urgent role of the Cape High Court on February 8, 2018.

Judge Siraj Desai told the legal representatives of ABSA and Mayfair that he regardED the case as having implications far beyond the applicant ABSA.

That is why, he said, that he preferred to have it postponed for a full hearing on the earliest available date.

Mayfair Speculators, meanwhile, has been selling off some of its best horses. Sport24 reported that it sold dual Horse of the Year Legal Eagle to businessman and passionate racehorse owner Braam van Huyssteen for an undisclosed sum in late December. 

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