Johannesburg - The lawyer, who represented Ethy Mbhalati during the match fixing scandal in 2016, told the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, that Mbhalati’s assertion that he was forced to sign a settlement agreement, was false.
David Woodhouse, from the law firm Tabacks, said Mbhalati - one of seven players sanctioned for their involvement in the match fixing scandal during the 2015/16 RamSlam competition - was fully aware at all stages about the charges which were made against him.
“Mbhalati also alleged that the advice he was given wasn't good and he signed a settlement agreement in circumstances where he was not even aware of the charges. That is not correct,” said Woodhouse.
Woodhouse, said that his firm was approached by the SA Cricketers Association, the players union, to assist those players who were being investigated in January 2016. He explained how during consultation on Mbhalati’s behalf with the investigators - David Becker and Louis Cole - it emerged that in his initial discussions with them, Mbhalati had not been entirely truthful about his involvement in the saga.
“The source of the investigation was an affidavit, apparently given to Cole and Becker by Gulam Bodi.
Bodi made allegations about Mbhalati, amongst other players,” Woodhouse said.
Bodi was cited as the “intermediary” between the illegal gamblers,and the players at the time.
“In the interview it turned out that the evidence that Becker and Cole had, appeared not to be consistent with what Mbhalati had signed and put in his affidavit. (Mbhalati) later confirmed this with myself and a colleague - to the extent that he confirmed to us the version the investigators put to us, was 90% true.
We then tried to assist him to mitigate his obvious exposure to risk.”
In his testimony to the SJN in July, Mbhalati said he had been forced into accepting his ban describing coercion involving Becker, Cole and the lawyers hired on his behalf by Saca. “They said I had to sign that sanction. I said I’m not going to sign. They said that that is the best that they could do. They said I had to sign it, nor was I allowed to go to another law firm to help me, nor could I share information to help me, and that my career was over anyway.”
Woodhouse, painted a different version of events. “We discussed with Mbhalati, he considered it, took it away, as did he take the draft settlement agreement which was sent in July 2016 - we discussed his options, right from the start,” Woodhouse told the SJN.
“Prior to Mbhalati signing the letter, he was advised by us, of his rights, what he could do, he took the agreement away and he signed it, At the time he had advised us, that it was neither here nor there whether he was banned from cricketing involvement whether for five or 10 years because he was at the end of his career.”
Mbhalati was banned for 10 years.
Woodhouse also refuted testimony by Lonwabo Tsotsobe that Tsotsobe turned down Tabacks, to act on his behalf with the investigation.
“Of the three players (Saca asked Tabacks to represent), Tsotsobe was not one, I’m not sure how Tsotosbe got to concern himself with (Tabacks) because he was not referred to us, or even mentioned to me.”