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Black Leopards defend arrest of ex-coach Ivan Minnaert

Posted: 16 April 2018 Time: 18:30

Black Leopards team manager Tshifiwa 'Chief' Thidiela says they were within their rights to open a case against former coach Ivan Minnaert after he allegedly refused to return the club's car keys.

The Belgian parted ways with the Limpopo side last year in December, but it was anything but an amicable split, as the coach claimed that Lidoda Duvha team manager Elijah Mulaudzi assaulted him, leading to a case of attempted murder being opened against the Leopards official.

Minnaert, however, has since been arrested after he allegedly refused to return the club's keys.

According to a press release KickOff.com received from Minnaert's lawyer Arthur Dlamini of MFJassa TD Dlamini Incorporated, Minnaert was arrested by Polokwane-based police in Johannesburg on April 10 at the Premier Soccer League's offices at about 15h45. He was accused of stealing the keys of a Nissan Almera, which he used while he was employed by Lidoda Duvha.

The communique argues the arrest was only made to intimidate Minnaert so that he withdraws a breach of contract claim he instituted at the Dispute Resolution Chamber of the PSL. The statement also said the coach was only taken to the police station after a three-hour drive.

Part of the press release reads as follows: "The owner of Black Leopards [David Thidiela] and his son Chief Thidiela were at the Polokwane Magistrate Court on the 11th of February 2018, firstly demanding to see Minnaert and when he refused to have a meeting with them, they proceeded to the office of the Senior Public Prosecutor demanding that Minnaert must not be released on bail." 

Thidiela, however, maintains Leopards have acted above board.

"The thing is they complicate things," Thidiela tells KickOff.com.

"We parted ways with this person in December and on the 20th of December he was supposed to bring back all the team's belongings. When we asked for the car he refused; our manager [Elijah Mulaudzi] had to use a spare key.

"This guy didn't bring back the key since December, January, February... he left for Rwanda or wherever he was with the car key. We sent him emails and messages to his agents trying to get our car key back. So when he got back here [in South Africa] they arrested him and he had the key with him. He started by saying,'No the key is not with me, it is with so and so.' The police went to Joburg and arrested him. I don't know what is it that they are saying is wrong about that.

"He is saying he was not supposed to be arrested. We asked him nicely to return the key. I can even show you the emails we sent him in the past three months pleading with him to return the key. Is it wrong to ask the police to help? And was it wrong for the police to arrest him?

"I think they were even wrong to grant him bail because he has left for Rwanda. What if he doesn't come back? Unless he gives a reason of what made him to go to Rwanda with our key and refused to return it to us when we asked him to do so, that's unlawful possession of someone's property. I'm saying this because they claim we did this because of some other issues we have against him; that we want to give him R2 million to drop the case - there's nothing like that. I have been asking them nicely to return the key."

Article by: Sipho Mlotha
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