Judge Zak Yacoob steps down as Cricket SA interim board chair after verbally attacking journalist

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  Zak Yacoob. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press
Zak Yacoob. Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Press

Judge Zak Yacoob has recused himself as the chairperson of Cricket South Africa's (CSA) interim board after verbally attacking a journalist. 

The news was confirmed by the department of sport on Wednesday. 

On Monday, TimesLIVE journalist Tiisetso Malepa published a recording of a telephonic conversation he had with Yacoob where he asked the retired Judge questions around the suspension of former acting CSA CEO Kugandrie Govender. 

Yacoob can be heard to be frustrated and dismissive throughout the conversation and he calls Malepa "idiotic" numerous times as well as calling him "dishonest", "irresponsible" and a "rogue". 

After the recording was made public, Yacoob through a CSA statement on Tuesday apologised, with the statement acknowledging that "the tone of his comments was inappropriate".

Minister Nathi Mthethwa, however, engaged with Yacoob after hearing the audio himself and the decision was taken for Yacoob to step aside. 

"By mutual agreement, it was felt that the Judge should recuse himself from chairing the interim board," a statement from the Ministry read on Wednesday.

Dr. Stavros Nicolaou, who is already serving on the interim board, will operate as the stand-in chairperson until February 15 when the interim board's term of office ends. 

"This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, to safeguard the tremendous work done by the interim board, under his stewardship," minister Nathi Mthethwa said. 

"The Judge showed remorse and apologised for his role in the call with the journalist. I take this opportunity to thank him for accepting my invitation to chair the interim board, as well as for his leadership, throughout the process."

The statement continued: "Whilst the Minister still awaits a formal update on progress made by the interim board, he remains optimistic that the final report will contribute positively to the process of reforming South African cricket. He also hopes that the recommendations made will enable CSA to convene their delayed AGM, where a new board will be appointed."

The interim board was acknowledged by CSA's members' council in November last year after Mthetwa had intervened in the running of CSA following a sustained period of administrative malfunction. 

A date for an AGM to appoint a  new board has yet to be finalised. 

On Wednesday afternoon, a second statement from CSA arrived where the interim board further confirmed the news of Yacoob's recusal. 

"The board of CSA has noted the publication of the recorded telephone conversation between Judge Yacoob and a Sunday Times journalist," the statement read.

"The incident is deeply regrettable and the board has accepted Judge Yacoob’s sincere expression of remorse.

"In the circumstances Judge Yacoob has stepped down from the board of CSA. He has done so to protect the integrity of the board and in the best interests of cricket.

"The board wishes to thank Judge Yacoob for his energetic leadership and principled stewardship of cricket over the past three months. Much has been achieved in terms of dealing with complex corporate governance matters even in this short period. 

"The board will continue to work towards fulfilling the mandate given to it by Minister Mthethwa, which includes the implementation of the Nicholson report and convening the CSA AGM."

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