Jack Milner: Brandon Lerena says he is delighted to be back in South Africa after his “horrible” ordeal in Mauritius.
Lerena and Raymond Danielson were given a three-month suspension for “associating with bookmaker” Ashley Jankee during a fishing trip, while Muzi Yeni, who was with them, had more serious charges against him based on a screenshot from his cell phone which had him allegedly discussing bets with the bookmaker.
Lerena and Danielson last week won their appeal to have their suspensions overturned while Yeni went to the Supreme Court to fight his case. All three are now back in South Africa.
“It was a horrible situation to be in because we knew we had done nothing wrong,” said Lerena yesterday. “At the time I had already resigned from my job and was coming home because I was missing my family. I hadn’t seen them since I arrived in Mauritius in April.”
When they were invited to go on the fishing trip they had been told by Jankee he was in the fashion and music business.
“When we met him everything seemed harmless. He arrived with a very well-spoken woman who he said was a DJ.
“He chose not to tell us who he was and we never got anything out of it. He made friends with us and at the end of the day he asked me for my number. I gave it to him but he started phoning me about five times that evening I decided to stop all if this. Even at that point I didn’t think he was a bookmaker. I just thought he was a punter.”
After that everything went wrong. Jankee had pictures on his Facebook page and there was also a video showing the guys having fun on the catamaran. On that video was a section in which the guys poked fun at the way the Mauritian commentator pronounced the names of the horses.
“When the public saw that they had the idea that we were discussing horses with him. After that we were blown out of the water. For one week we were on the front pages of all the newspapers,” said Lerena.
“The police had a full go at us. They searched our apartments, went through all our cell phones and even checked messages we had deleted. But they found nothing to indicate we had done anything wrong.
“The police had a job to do but they weren’t as difficult as the stewards. Even when we told them we did not know Jankee was a bookmaker they said they believed us, but we should have phoned them to check before we agreed to go with him.”
During this whole time they were not allowed to leave the island. Lerena and Danielson were only cleared to go last Friday, and Yeni after that.
Jankee, meanwhile, had been arrested and was being investigated for alleged illegal betting.