Mazembe boss demands apology or elseThomas Kwenaite
Attorneys representing billionaire businessman and former Governor of the Katanga Province who is currently the President of Lubumbashi football giants TP Mazembe have dispatched a letter to a Madagascan newspaper demanding that they retract a story implying their client had bribed a Zimbabwean goalkeeper.
Gregory Ernes, the attorneys representing Moise Katumbi Chapwe threaten to file criminal charges for defamation against anyone that contributed to the dissemination of “false” information and certainly the journalist as well as editions that “peddled” those lies would be quoted before a competent tribunal in order to clear the tarnished image of their client.
Zimbabwe was hammered 4-0 by the DR Congo in their final Group A match in Cairo on Sunday and thus paved the way for the DR Congo to meet Madagascar in the last 16 of the tournament in a match where conspiracy theories have emerged from the island nation implying the tie had been fixed.
In an article written by Malagasy newspaper La Gazette de la Grande on July 3, the newspaper pointed an accusing finger at the TP Mazembe boss – Katumbi – of having a hand in bribing Zimbabwe goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze who was described as “butter fingers” and blamed for three of the four goals.
The newspaper calls for the DR Congo to be disqualified and instead Zimbabwe reinstated, an opponent they seem to believe is much weaker than the DR Congo and which they feel they stand a much better chance of advancing than against the Leopards.
At the same time, the article further imply that the DR Congo fixed the match by that heavy score-line because, had they won by a 3-0 margin, they would have been in a position to face the host Egypt, opponents they wanted to avoid at all cost at this stage of the tournament.
But Katumbi’s attorneys in Brussels have hit back, demanding a retraction and promising litigation against the author of the article and have attached a copy of his passport hinting that he left Cairo a long time ago before the day he is alleged to have been seen near the Zimbabwe players.
“The aforementioned allegations were taken up by the continental media – which no longer bother to use the conditional – without aby reaction from CAF or my client (Katumbi) who denounce these false accusations,” reads the letter.
“Mr Katumbi would further like to point out that at the time of the alleged facts, he had already departed Egypt and was therefore physically unable to approach any player and we have attached a copy of his passport as proof.
“Our client arrived in Cairo the day before the opening match of the 2019 AFCON as a member of the Organizing Committee and President of TP Mazembe and after the opening match, decided to attend the DR Congo match against Uganda.
“After this match, our client left Egypt to return to Brussels. Even with the DRC players, Mr Katumbi did not have any contact. Such a presentation once again presents the absurd and untruthful nature of these allegations.”
The attorneys require that CAF acts promptly to punish the affiliates or members behind this defamation and furthermore demands an investigation to be conducted into the matter in a transparent manner.