School cricket coach to challenge axing

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Durban - The former head of cricket at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg, who was fired for allegedly getting involved in a spat between the school and the aggrieved parent of a cricketer, will challenge the decision at the CCMA on July 10.

Bruce Roberts, 50, was suspended on May 28 and fired two weeks ago after an internal disciplinary inquiry found him guilty of refusing to obey an instruction not to communicate with the father of a Grade 12 pupil who was dropped from the captaincy of the school’s first cricket team. Roberts had sent an e-mail to the father, the contents of which have not been made public.

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Bruce Roberts, the former head of cricket at St Charles College, was fired two weeks ago for sending an e-mail to the aggrieved parent of a cricketer. Picture: Shan Pillay

The father of the 17-year-old has alleged his son was axed because of racism.

He took the school to court to force it to reverse the decision, but the matter was adjourned without a date being set because an agreement was being sought between the parties.


However, the father then served a letter of demand on the first team cricket coach, Dave Karlsen, for R2.1 million, claiming the boy had suffered damage to his dignity and reputation.

Karlsen was given until August 2 to tell the father how he intended paying the money, failing which summons would be served.

Roberts, a former member of the Transvaal “Mean Machine” during the late 1980s and early 1990s and an ex-Derbyshire County cricketer, was appointed cricket head last August. Before that, he was the cricket professional at Hilton College for 16 years.

He said he had implored the college to involve him in the matter, believing he could make a meaningful contribution, but the headmaster, Allen van Blerk, had refused.

He then decided to communicate directly with the father because he was “alive to the possible reputational damage to the college, arising from the long outstanding non-resolution of the impasse over the removal of the pupil as captain”, and he believed that a transparent and honest internal hearing would lead to a resolution.

“The college had chosen to deal with the matter under extreme secrecy… not in the best interests of the college, the pupil concerned, and the wider college community,” he said.

Roberts added that he had had “unresolved grievances” with Karlsen since November and had been invited to participate in a formal grievance resolution process last month, but it had not taken place because of his suspension.

Van Blerk said the cricket matter was strictly between the parent and himself, although the cricket union had tried to mediate. All staff had been instructed not to communicate with the parent, to give the mediation the best possible chance of succeeding, and because the school had been engaged in a legal process.

“Mr Roberts was dismissed because it was determined that he had not followed clear instructions to respect the process that was under way. His actions have had the obvious consequence of placing the mediation process in jeopardy.”

The Mercury

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