Two employees of South African Premier Division side Marumo Gallants FC have been released after they were detained in a Libyan hotel for two weeks over unpaid bills.
Rufus Matsena and Tebogo Dhlomo made a low-key return to the country on Monday morning and will address a press conference on Tuesday, according to South African online newspaper TimesLIVE.
Media officer Matsena and physiotherapist Dhlomo were kept in Libya for three weeks after the team’s Confederation Cup game against Al-Akhdar after Gallants allegedly failed to pay money owed to business-person and Benghazi hotel owner Ali Elzargha.
Upon their return, they were welcomed at OR Tambo International Airport by Gallants chairperson Abram Sello. The pair expressed their delight at being back home after being unable to return to South Africa as they were denied access to their travel documents.
“We are delighted to be home. There is no price you can pay in terms of the feeling you have,” Matsena said.
“We are very excited and if there is anything else that needs to be said, there is a press conference tomorrow [Tuesday] and all will be revealed there. But it is good to be back.”
As per TimesLIVE, Gallants settled the bill for their stay at the Elzargha’s Benghazi hotel for their Caf Confederation Cup game against Al-Akhdar on March 19.
But the club and Elzargha disagreed on costs incurred by the Libyan in assisting the club with a private plane from Istanbul to Benghazi after Marumo became stranded in Turkey due to flights being full on the Ramadan holiday. Elzargha apparently also assisted with travel in the city and arranging a new playing kit after Gallants’ strip went missing during the travel confusion.
Matsena and Dhlomo apparently remained in Libya to settle the bill, but the size of the amount surprised Gallants, with Elzargha demanding R675,000. The hotel owner then prevented the two officials from travelling.
Various government departments and the South African Football Association played a part in negotiating their return, TimesLIVE reports.