The CEO who wept

2011-12-10 19:36

The scene was reminiscent of a different era – a respected figure in the cricket world bursting into tears on national television.

In June 2000, former Proteas captain Hansie Cronjé, testifying before retired Judge Edwin King about allegations of accepting bribes to throw matches, broke down before tearfully blaming the devil for his troubles.

On Tuesday, the world watched another respected South African cricket person, appearing before a judge for failing to disclose bonuses, break down in tears.

“It’s been a very distressing period for me and my family,” Cricket SA CEO Gerald Majola said before starting to cry during an interview with an e.tv crew on Tuesday.

Majola had spent the day testifying before retired Judge Chris Nicholson at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

Majola and other CSA board members have been accused of failing to disclose bonuses amounting to R4.7 million they received for hosting the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2009, following security concerns in that country.

The accusations led to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula instituting a commission of inquiry into the matter.

But unlike Cronje, who admitted to his guilt in having received money from bookmakers to throw matches, Majola has maintained his innocence.

“Everything I have said is backed by books. The evidence is there,” he said in response to allegations that millions of rands have not been accounted for by CSA.

Instead, Majola said the allegations are part of a “third force” agenda which is serving the interests of the “previous regime which is not happy with the progress made by the current administration”.

Dr Mtutuzeli Nyoka, the former CSA and Gauteng Cricket Board president, is literally the native who caused all the trouble after first making the allegations to the media last year.

There seems to be no love lost between Majola and Nyoka, who both hail from the Port Elizabeth township of New Brighton in Eastern Cape.

“He’s not my friend,” charged Majola when asked whether they communicate at all.

But what happens when they meet in public, is it a case of one of them looking the other way?

“We don’t move in the same circles,” he said.

Are they on speaking terms?

“I’m on speaking terms with anybody who wants to speak to me,” replied Majola.

Their public spat dates back to 2002 when Nyoka, then Gauteng Cricket Board president, was quoted in the media as criticising comments made by Majola regarding transformation as “buffoonery”.

This prompted 10 of the 11 affiliates of the then United Cricket Board of SA to issue a statement expressing their dismay at Nyoka’s comments and reiterating their support for Majola.

Nyoka told the commission he defended Majola to the hilt when the bonus allegations first came to light, even believing Majola when he said the “white mafia” wanted him out of cricket.

On Friday, Majola, looking smart in a grey suit and matching purple tie, appeared confident and relaxed when addressing a media briefing at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. “When I broke down,” he told City Press after the briefing, “I was just overwhelmed.

“I was seeing images of all these people who have been through all this with me.”

It has been a difficult time for him and his family. He is married to Honey and they have three children, son Allister and daughters Khanyisile and Sibusisiwe.

He managed a chuckle with the media while maintaining a business-like approach. There were few outward signs of strain.

“I’m not having sleepless nights but there must be something out there. I think there are outside forces behind all this,” he said.

There is clearly no doubt about his love for the sport he’s been involved with most of his life.

When asked if he would accept the recommendations of Nicholson’s inquiry, Majola said he would be guided by the CSA board.

“But whatever happens I will never be lost to cricket,” he said.

Majola is a qualified analytical chemist, a certified commercial estate agent and has a diploma in rubber technology, but one can see sport is his first love.

During his testimony, he told the commission: “In our family, sport is in our blood. Those days winter was rugby in our family and cricket was a summer sport so you played it, you had no choice. You had to be there – this was the tradition of the family.”

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