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President’s Voice — Gideon Sam

Our sporting fraternity has had to deal with two very sad moments already this year with the passing of cyclist Carla Swart and then more recently our dear director-general of sport, Vernie Petersen.

I’ve already spoken of the tragic loss of Carla and these two losses will be sorely felt — in the competitive world of sport in young Carla’s case and then in the management side of things when it comes to Vernie.

Regarding Vernie, he was a dear friend and colleague. He was a gentle giant who came into the department and grabbed it by the scruff of its neck. At a time when our Minister of Sport Mr Fikile Mbalula needed a well-grounded Director General, he and and indeed all of us in the sporting world, are robbed by the death of such a sound character.

Vernie, as we all got to call him, understood the needs of sport and always found a fine balance between those needs and the bureaucracy required in his department. He firmly believed that the department needed to deliver, and deliver fast. What was being planned under his direction will culminate in the Sports Indaba that the Minister will convene and I would guess the planning towards the Indaba will now be driven with more vigour in honour of Vernie. It’s a cruel blow to the entire sports movement because we had just changed gear to do things better and quicker.

To us who must soldier on and complete the task of transforming SA sport, let us take courage from the example that Vernie set for us. He always said we must stop all the big talk and start delivering to all of our people, wherever they found themselves.

There are no words to console his wife June and the family but we thank them for supporting Vernie while he was leading us. You have lost a husband, father, grandfather and friend, and we as the sports movement have lost a dear leader. Lala ngoxolo Mhlekazi


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