No cross-examination a pity, says Nicholson

2011-12-07 13:08

It was a pity that witnesses in a ministerial inquiry into Cricket SA (CSA) could not be cross-examined, head of the process Judge Chris Nicholson said today.

“One of the greatest authors on the law of evidence, Wigmore, said cross-examination is the finest engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,” he told reporters in Pretoria today.

“So at one level we have been denied the finest engine for the discovery of truth. It would seem a pity to me if we don’t have findings that have some real input and are helpful to the minister.”

The briefing by Nicholson, who is the chairperson of the committee of inquiry, signalled the end of oral submissions for this year.

Nicholson said more witnesses needed to appear before the committee.

“We are of the view that there are a few more people that we would like to question and ask for their assistance, oral submissions before this committee and so we thought of recommencing these hearings on the Monday of January 16, 2012.”

Nicholson said the committee had hoped to hear oral submissions from John Bester, a member of the Khan commission of inquiry.

The committee also hoped to speak to former CSA chief executive Ali Bacher following incumbent chief executive Gerald Majola’s claims before the committee yesterday that Bacher had taken a R5 million bonus after the 2003 Cricket World Cup, which was hosted by South Africa.

The committee received more than 30 written submissions and interviewed 20 or more witnesses. It now needed to analyse the evidence, which included more than 5 000 pages of written documents, Nicholson said.

The committee would analyse the oral and written submissions. A final report would then be handed to Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula by the end of February next year.

Mbalula was not obliged to accept the committee’s recommendations.

“The avenues open to the minister are set out by the Sports and Recreation Act, and these encompass deregistration of a sports body like CSA,” Nicholson said.

“Also, as I understand it, funds that are paid by government through the department of sports and recreation can be denied to CSA and hopefully the power of public opinion will mean that CSA will take up our recommendations and implement that.”

Sport director-general Alec Moemi said his department hoped the committee would find and tighten any loose ends that may have emerged during the hearings.

At the briefing, Moemi said: “We wish all the investigations to be concluded speedily. And we equally expect a report that will help restore the integrity of cricket for the benefit of the athletes, national colours, the Proteas, and the sport in general.”

“It therefore becomes natural that we should be realistic and be guided by the committee with regards to timeframes that will help them to provide a quality product that our country is expecting.”

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