Cricket SA defends integrity of 2015 match-fixing investigation after Thami Tsolekile claims

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Thami Tsolekile (Gallo)
Thami Tsolekile (Gallo)
  • CSA has defended the integrity of a match fixing investigation that saw a number of cricketers banned for their involvement in corruption during the 2015 RAM SLAM T20 Challenge.
  • Former Proteas wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile, who was found guilty and banned, has claimed that certain white players avoided investigation.
  • CSA says Dolphins batsman Vaughn van Jaarsveld did report an approach from Gulam Bodi during the investigation.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has defended the integrity of its 2015 match fixing investigation that rocked South African cricket. 

A number of players, including Thami Tsolekile and Gulam Bodi, were heavily implicated in fixing related to the 2015 RAM SLAM domestic T20 competition and banned after an investigation.

Bodi was identified as the mastermind behind the operation while other players including Jean Symes, Ethy Mbhalati and Pumelela Matshikwe were also banned. 

This week, in an interview with Robert Marawa on Marawa Sports Worldwide, Tsolekile brought the case into the spotlight once more by suggesting that certain white players had escaped investigation despite also being involved in the scandal. 

According to Tsolekile, who was given a 12-year ban, Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Robbie Frylinck had also been approached by Bodi in 2015 without reporting it to authorities. 

"For the last five years, my financial earnings have been cut. Vaughn, for the last five years, has been earning a salary," Tsolekile said on Marawa's show. 

"Frylinck was also involved in this. He did a game in the Champions League Twenty20, according to Bodi. But Frylinck, as an ex-Proteas player, he is still playing and I am not."

On Friday morning, CSA released a statement defending the integrity of its investigation into the scandal.

Full CSA statement:

"Cricket South Africa (CSA) has noted with concern some of the unfounded allegations in the media by certain of the players banned for their part in the match fixing scandal arising from the 2015 Ram Slam competition. 

Contrary to the allegation that SACA (South African Cricketers' Association) carried out the investigation, the investigation was carried out by CSA’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) under the guidance and authority of retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe, former Judge President of North Gauteng and South Gauteng. 

A comprehensive investigation was carried out over approximately 18 months with the CSA Anti-Corruption Unit acting in collaboration with, and with the assistance of, Judge Ngoepe, specialist external lawyers, the ICC, the BCCI, the Hawks and an external digital forensic team. The CSA Board was kept regularly updated on developments pertaining to the investigation. 

The players largely co-operated with the investigation. Each of the players was represented by their own attorneys who assisted in advising them on their rights and obligations under the CSA Anti-Corruption Code. These attorneys had the opportunity of sitting in on every meeting with the respective players, and assisted them in both evaluating the evidence presented and in concluding their Sanction Agreements in terms of which they pleaded guilty to various corruption-related offences under the Code. 

At no time did any of the players or their respective attorneys submit that they were coerced into admitting their guilt or signing their Sanction Agreements. They did so willingly and, in fact, were consulted on, and provided input into, the respective press releases announcing confirmation of the offences to which they had admitted. Audio and video recordings were made of all the interviews with all the participants and now form part of the ongoing criminal investigation. 

On the allegation made by Mr Tsolekile that he was not presented with any evidence and did not receive any charges, Judge Ngoepe said: 'This is not the truth. Mr Tsolekile received a formal charge sheet as is required under the Code. He was also presented with extensive evidence in the presence of his lawyer.' 

As regards the accusations relating to alleged discrimination, Judge Ngoepe said: 'The allegation that the investigation deliberately targeted black players must also be rejected. Both white and black players were investigated and charged, based on the evidence that was collected and presented.'

According to Mr Bodi, the names of many prominent players and icons of the game, both black and white, were bandied around by him as a tactic to put players that he approached at ease. The possible involvement of all these players was thoroughly investigated. It is not practice during investigations, nor fair towards these players who were cited, to publicize their names. 

As regards the allegation that Vaughn van Jaarsveld was approached by Mr Bodi and failed to disclose this approach, CSA confirms that both he and Craig Alexander were approached by Mr Bodi and both players reported the matter to SACA and to the ACU as required by CSA Anti-Corruption Code and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Act 12 of 2004). Their possible involvement in the match fixing scheme was fully investigated not only by the investigating team but also by the Hawks and they were cleared of any wrongdoing. 

'Both Vaughn and Craig must be commended for doing the right thing,' said Judge Ngoepe.

'They acted with courage and integrity, notwithstanding the pressure that was placed upon them.'

CSA undertook to protect the identity of these players during the investigation in their own interest and that of their families. This process is important as the ACU relies on the goodwill and responsibility of players to come forward when they are approached. 

Commenting on the involvement of the Hawks, CSA’s Anti-Corruption officer, Louis Cole said: 'All the evidence gathered during the investigation was shared with the Hawks when a criminal case under Section 15 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Act 12 of 2004) was opened. Mr Bodi was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on 8 counts in respect of corrupt activities in sport on 18 October 2019. The investigation into the involvement of the other players in the corruption case is ongoing as per the NPA’s press release on 22 October 2019. CSA has no control over this investigation as this is beyond its remit.

'The allegation of match fixing during the Champions League by Mr Frylinck was never mentioned by Mr Tsolelike during his interviews with ACU. Both Mr Alexander and Van Jaarsveld reported to the ACU that Mr Bodi had mentioned this as part of his approach.

'Although that relates to a separate tournament outside South Africa and falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it was referred to the ICC ACU for investigation. At no stage prior to the Ram Slam investigation did Mr Tsolekile or any other player provide any evidence to substantiate this claim as required by the Code.

'According to Mr Bodi, he requested Mr van Jaarsveld to recruit Mr Frylinck to participate in the match fixing scheme. This aspect was thoroughly investigated, including interviewing one of the bookmakers in India, and no evidence was uncovered to support the possibility that Mr Frylinck had been recruited.'"

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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