Lawyers for various respondents implicated in the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) Report have stated Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) board will need to consider “a number of fundamental flaws” in both the process and the findings of ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza.
David Becker, the former head of the International Cricket Council’s legal department and the attorney of CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith, issued a statement last night on behalf of the lawyers of the respondents, saying there were “concerns about the integrity of the process”.
Smith will be fighting allegations his appointment as director of cricket was “irregular” and that he was guilty of racial discrimination in his current position and when he was Proteas captain.
“CSA is going to have to consider a number of fundamental flaws in the ombud’s process which have been raised by several respondents,” Becker said.
“How do you make far-reaching and public findings of racial prejudice… and in the same breath say that they are ‘tentative’…?
“How is CSA expected to implement those findings when the ombudsman has said, by his own admission, that he ‘cannot make definitive findings’… where the evidence… was not tested. Why wasn’t the evidence properly tested? The ombudsman had the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses… and didn’t take that opportunity.”
Ntsebeza was constantly trying to buy himself more time for a process that CSA had already extended from four months to six months, which the organisation said had cost them R7.5 million rather than the budgeted R5 million. And yet Becker criticised the process as still being lacking.
His statement pointed out that certain respondents were not properly informed of the allegations of racism made against them.
“If so, this is very serious and the findings against them will ultimately need to be withdrawn,” Becker said.
Significant conflicts of interest were also raised because lawyers Sandile July and Fumisa Ngqele had a dual role of not only advising the ombud but also drafting heads of argument for the complainants.
The report also largely ignores the 250 pages of evidence submitted by the SA Cricketers’ Association dealing with the allegations against the players’ union.