David Teeger, the South African Under-19 Proteas cricket captain who has faced a barrage of criticism and an inquiry for his pro-Israeli army comments at the Absa Jewish Achiever Rising Star awards has been cleared of violating the conduct codes of Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Central Gauteng Lions (Lions).
Advocate Wim Trengove SC was commissioned by the CSA and the Lions to conduct an independent inquiry into the comments Teeger - an 18-year-old matric pupil and head boy of King Edward VII School - made in October and whether it violated the code of conduct of the two organisations.
In a ruling this week, Trengrove found that Teeger had not violated the code of conduct of the CSA nor the Lions, noting that the teenager had made the remarks in his personal capacity to a Jewish audience; it was unrelated to cricket and thus not detrimental to the sport or inter-team relations.
At the award ceremony, Teeger had paid tribute to Israeli soldiers during his acceptance speech for the Rising Star Award when he said: "Yes, I've been (given) this award, and, yes, I'm now the Rising Star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel”.
A complaint was laid against Teeger by the Palestine Solidarity Alliance who criticised the teenager’s "unequivocal support" for the IDF, accusing him of showing indifference to the suffering of Gaza's civilians.
CSA Chief Executive Pholetsi Moseki argued in an affidavit that Teeger's statements conflicted with CSA's objectives of fostering inclusivity and diversity in cricket. Moseki pointed out that Teeger's comments were perceived as controversial, particularly in light of the global criticism of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
Dr Mohammed Moosajee, president of the Lions Cricket Board, detailed in his affidavit the grievances lodged against Teeger.
These included concerns from a sponsor, pro-Palestinian groups, and cricket clubs, demanding Teeger's removal as the South African Under-19 captain.
Teeger, in his defence, maintained that his remarks were a personal expression of gratitude towards soldiers protecting Israeli citizens.
He expressed regret for not foreseeing the potential media scrutiny, emphasising that his comments were not meant to represent CSA, the Lions, or any teams he played for.
Trengove, in his ruling, found Teeger not guilty of violating the codes of conduct. He clarified that the term "conduct" refers to actions rather than spoken words, and that Teeger's comments, while offensive to some, were shared by others and thus not unbecoming or detrimental.
Trengrove wrote: "Teeger expressed views which are very offensive to some. But they are also views shared by others, even if they could be said to be those of a minority, they cannot be said to be 'unbecoming or detrimental conduct'. There is nothing unbecoming or detrimental about an opinion expressed seriously and in good faith, however offensive it might be to some."