Johannesburg - Graem Smith’s attorney has raised serious concerns about the Social Justice and Nation Building project, stating that the process had a number of “fundamental flaws.”
David Becker, who also made an oral submission at the hearings, related to the match-fixing saga, had raised those concerns with Cricket SA, he said in a statement released on Friday evening.
“The SJN process was undoubtedly an important process for South African cricket. However, CSA is going to have to consider a number of fundamental flaws in the Ombud’s process which have been raised by several respondents.”
The SJN report was released publicly by CSA on Wednesday and made damning claims about racial discrimination, fingering Smith, Proteas head coach Mark Boucher and AB de Villiers among others.
In the report’s concluding remarks, the Transformation Ombudsman, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza states that the “process merely raised issues and the findings and recommendations in the report are merely tentative.”
Becker slams that assertion. “For instance, how do you make far-reaching and public findings of racial prejudice against certain people and in the same breath say that they are ‘tentative’, as the Ombudsman has done? How is CSA expected to implement those findings when the Ombudsman has said, by
his own admission, that he ‘cannot make definitive findings in an instance where the evidence
of both the so-called victims and the alleged perpetrators was not tested’?”
Becker also said that individuals against whom findings of racism were made were not properly informed of the allegations. “If so, this is very serious and the findings against them will ultimately need to be withdrawn or set aside,” he remarked.
Claims in the SJN report that Smith, Cricket SA’s current Director of Cricket, refused to work under black people, did not reflect the truth. On page 208 of the report, the Ntsebeza finds that because Smith refused to work under CSA’s former CEO Thabang Moroe, it “evinces his racial bias against black leadership at CSA.”
In making that finding Becker, a former head of legal for the International Cricket Council, stated that Ntsebeza “simply ignores the fact that Smith has worked quite happily and successfully under the current CSA Acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki for the last year. He has also worked collaboratively with three black CSA Presidents since being appointed in December 2019.”
The SJN report also stated that Smith and Boucher’s appointments were irregular, however Becker pointed out that while making those findings, the ombudsman, patently ignored evidence provided to him.
“Smith did not appoint himself. The evidence clearly shows that his appointment was endorsed by the selection panel and approved by the entire CSA Board, CSA President Chris Nenzani, CFO Pholetsi Moseki, the Acting CEO (Jacques Faul), HR Head Chantal Moon, and Legal Officer & Company Secretary Welsh Gwaza.”
“Important parts of the evidence are simply not dealt with in the report,” said Becker. “For
example, the Ombudsman states that Smith did not explain why he appointed Boucher in his
evidence. However, the reasons are clearly addressed by Smith and Mr Nenzani in their
affidavits submitted to the SJN.”
In a statement accompanying the report’s release on Wednesday, CSA said it would “engage” more with the report in the new year.
“(CSA) will need to carefully consider all these concerns about the process and make a decision as to whether the findings and recommendations can actually be implemented at all,” said Becker. “It is just a pity that a very meaningful project with a noble purpose might end up tainted because of procedural flaws.”