The inquiry into events in South African swimming has received between 15 to 20 written submissions so far, reports from the tip of the Dark Continent suggest.
“We want to encourage more people to come out, and if they are concerned about victimisation, we want to assure them they will have protection,” said Norman Arendse, leading the inquiry.
The commission will hold hearings for swimmers on Thursday, and for coaches and officials on Friday.
Arendse, a senior counsel, told the SA media that the commission needed to look at the submissions more closely. “One is unable to decide on the veracity of the allegations, and obviously that needs to be tested. There are allegations, counter-allegations, denials. These submissions weren’t made under oath, we’ll have to inquire a bit more.”
The commission was established by Swimming SA after several claims emerged, including allegations that head coach Dirk Lange had struck a swimmer and team manager Rushdee Warley had instructed Jean-Marie Neethling, Ryk’s youngest sister, not to speak Afrikaans. Context would be helpful, of course, when such allegations are made, though we will get none until the inquiry reports.
Arendse said that one problem facing the commission was the request by some witnesses to remain anonymous. Anonymity is useful in some contexts but it also allows many a false claim to be made, of course. Said Arendse: “We’ve had two or three people making statements and asking to remain anonymous, and at the moment their wish has been granted. Closer to the time we’re going to have to ask people if they’re prepared to make their names known, at least if only to the accused. It would not be disclosed publicly or to Swimming SA. We would also like to hear from people who made submissions on other issues that we identified as important, such as the performance of the team (at the Beijing Olympics, where the SA team failed to win a medal), and did these issues affect performance?”