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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Disgraced businessman Jooste's runners face union protest at Met meeting

Markus Jooste: the disgraced businessman is in the process of selling his string
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South Africa’s government workers are planning to make things hot for disgraced businessman Markus Jooste at the Met, Cape Town’s biggest race meeting, on Saturday 27 January. They are also calling on celebrities and politicians to boycott the meeting.

The Public Servants Association (the union to which most government workers belong) invested a significant proportion of its pension fund in Steinhoff, the company of which Jooste was CEO until his shock resignation early last month. It has seen its investment crumble as Steinhoff shares collapsed amid a sea of accounting fraud allegations.

The union said on Thursday: “To uphold its commitment to fight rampant corruption in government and the private sector, the PSA will protest at the Sun Met, where it believes Markus Jooste’s horses will take part.”

The PSA was last month informed by the National Horseracing Authority that Jooste is in the process of selling his horses and that they will not be running in the Met.

But the union’s general manager Ivan Fredericks said today that it has information “that the horses the NHA reported on are those who are owned solely by Markus Jooste and not those he co-owns with other partners.

“In our view Jooste will still be part of the horseracing fraternity and will continue to make millions whilst he managed to lose billions in the investments of public servants. Jooste has seen no repercussions of his actions whilst public servants’ hard-earned pension money cannot be recouped. We call on all public servants and other affected stakeholders to join the protest march to call for stronger action to be taken against Jooste.

Dual South Africa horse of the year Legal Eagle has been sold by Jooste and is odds-on for the Queen's Plate

“We also call on our local celebrities and politicians to boycott the event in support of those who have lost their investments and in solidarity to root out corruption.”

Steinhoff bought Poundland – the high street chain that sponsors the Hill at the Derby – in September last year. Epsom's owner Jockey Club Racecourses has said only that it was looking forward to continuing the association, and that it will be unaffected by Jooste's resignation.

A spokesperson for Epsom said last month: “The partnership with Poundland at Epsom concerns the Hill at the Derby festival and we work closely with them in that regard. Anything that sits outside this would be a matter to pick up with them directly.”

Jooste, who races his horses in South Africa under the Mayfair Speculators banner, has sold his two best ones – Legal Eagle, who is odds-on for Saturday’s Queen’s Plate, and Edict Of Nantes, who is to go to Hong Kong – and is in the process of selling the remainder. He had between 150 and 200 in training and was the leading owner for the past ten seasons.

Selling them is taking time. Racing manager Derek Brugman has agreed with Jooste’s financiers that Mayfair should be given the time and allowed to continue racing them in the interim.

There may not be any Jooste runners in the Met but there are likely to be some in the supporting races, particularly those owned in partnership with other owners.

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The Public Servants Association will protest at the Sun Met where it believes Markus Jooste’s horses will take part
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