Ster & Vaalweekblad received this press release from the MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Ms Mathabo Leeto, earlier today (4 August):
Ms Mathabo Leeto would like to condemn in the strongest possible terms the alleged rape incident allegedly perpetrated by Athletics Coach, Mr. Steven Swarts, who is also the Deputy President of Athletics Free State.
Mr. Swarts is also appointed by MEC Leeto as the board member of the Free State Sport Confederation which is a governance body responsible for sport matters in the Free State and reports directly to her. He is also a commissioner in the Free State Academy of Sport.
While MEC Leeto, as the firm believer in the rule of law, would allow the law to follow its course, she has undertaken to look into the precautionary suspension of the Coach from the above sport structures. While upholding the principle of innocent until proven guilty, it is the considered view of MEC Leeto that, given the sensitivity of the matter and the environment within which the alleged rape is alleged to have happened, it will be prudent and necessary that the Coach be suspended from these positions.
To allow him to continue to work in that environment and with that dark cloud hovering above his head will be unfair both to him and those that he works with. As the custodian of sport matters in the Province, MEC Leeto deems it necessary that she should suspend Mr. Swarts from the various sporting bodies in which she has appointed him directly or indirectly.
The MEC views acts of violence against women in a serious light and will spare no effort in dealing with them within and outside her operating environment in which she has been deployed by the African National Congress. As we celebrate women’s month we should all be reminded that women have to be respected and not abused. The clarion call made by government for the protection of the rights and civil liberties of women should be positively responded to by all, men and women. MEC Leeto believes that the law will take its course in this specific case and all other cases in general.