South African jockeys Brandon Lerena and Raymond Danielson were on Tuesday successful in their appeal against a three month suspension from riding handed to them by The Mauritius Turf Club (MTC) and are now awaiting clearance certificates to leave the island.

However, in a situation which Durban-based legal representative Bruce Armstrong described as “bizarre”, SA jockey Muzi Yeni remains forcibly stranded on the island despite no charge having ever been laid against him.

It is well documented Lerena, Danielson and Yeni went on a catamaran trip on a sunny day in June and one of the other people on the boat, unbeknown to them, turned out to be a licensed bookmaker.

Lerena and Danielson were found to be in breach of a MTC rule regarding associations between licensed jockeys and licensed bookmakers and were charged.

However, an appeal against the subsequent guilty verdict was heard internally on the MTC premises on Tuesday and was upheld.

Yeni was not charged with the same breach for the reason the MTC accepted that, as he had only been on the island for a few days, he could not have known the aforementioned man was a licensed bookmaker.

Earlier, Yeni had volunteered information to the MTC regarding a “WhatsApp” screen shot, posted on a Facebook group, in relation to a conversation which allegedly took place between somebody called “Muzi Yeni Q” and another person, the identity of whom is unknown. The Racing Stewards of the Mauritius Turf Club carried out an Inquiry into this matter and concluded that there was no evidence of Yeni having acted in contravention of the MTC Rules of Racing. They therefore decided not to proceed further with the inquiry and no charge was laid against Yeni.

In relation to the above issue, the South African NHRA sent out a press release on July 19 under the headline “Alleged Impersonations in the Racing Industry” which stated:

“The National Horseracing Authority confirms that it is aware of a number of advances and communications made to various people in the Industry by certain persons purporting to be Jockeys or persons connected to Jockeys. These persons offer tips and inside information under the guise of being in the know and well informed.  They request that payments be made directly into their banking accounts in return for the information. It has been established that the Riders, whose names are being used are not aware of these communications.”

Yeni’s contract of employment to ride for the Ricky Maingard stable in Mauritius had ended on June 26.

Before any foreign worker is allowed to leave Mauritius, he has to obtain clearances from all relevant authorities, and Yeni was granted these by both the MTC and the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA).

On about the 28th day of June, Yeni was requested by the “Police des jeux” , a department of the MRA, to record a statement in relation to the “catamaran” incident.

Together with a Mauritian legal representative, Yeni fully cooperated with the “Police des jeux” and voluntarily gave a detailed version on the issues raised by the latter.

Thereafter, the “Police des Jeux” allowed him to leave the premises and told me him he was free to go.

Not only has no provisional charge of any nature whatsoever been levelled against Yeni to date, but the “Police des Jeux” were also satisfied with his explanations, which confirmed there was no evidence to link him with any offence under the Laws of Mauritius.

Therefore, Yeni appeared to be free to leave the island in order to ride Ten Gun Salute in the Vodacom Durban July at Greyville on July 1.

However, in the first of a “shocking” sequence of events, Yeni’s legal representative was informed on the same day by the officers of the “Police des Jeux” that there was “objection to departure” placed upon Yeni and such objection was lodged at the request of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Yeni’s subsequent appeals to all of The Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office; The Commissioner of Police; The Gambling and Regulatory Authority; The Passport and Immigration Officer; and the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide a reason for the objection brought no joy.

To date neither Yeni nor his legal advisors have been provided with any reason whatsoever for the “objection to departure”.

Even worse, the “objection to departure” in question seems to be for an indefinite period as he has not been informed of the duration of such objection.

A further distressing event occurred when Yeni’s application to the Supreme Court was adjourned until August 18, despite Yeni’s legal representatives pointing out the urgency of a resolution to the matter.

Yeni has been deprived of earning a living since June 26, and he is the sole breadwinner in a family also consisting of his wife and two children, both of whom attend paid school.

Yeni, who has riding commitments in South Africa, has also apparently lost sponsors.

His legal representatives have also pointed out the irreparable prejudice which had been caused to Yeni and his family.

Yeni’s legal representatives have also emphasised their belief that such a state of affairs stands contrary to Yeni’s constitutional rights guaranteed under Section 15 of the Constitution of Mauritius entitled “FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT” and more specifically sub section (1) thereof which reads: “No person shall be deprived of his freedom of movement , and for the purposes of this section, that freedom means the right to move freely throughout Mauritius, the right to reside in any part of Mauritius, the right to enter Mauritius, the right to leave Mauritius, and immunity of expulsion from Mauritius.”




David Thiselton