Proteas

Fundudzi report finds Moroe responsible for banning of 5 journalists

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Thabang Moroe with Koketso Gaofetoge.
Thabang Moroe with Koketso Gaofetoge.
(Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
  • The full Fundudzi report found former CSA CEO Thabang Moroe responsible for the banning of five sports journalists last year.
  • CSA's interim board released the full report on Wednesday unexpectedly, after months of secrecy.
  • There was simmering discontent inside CSA about negative reports, from board level down to the executive and management levels.

According to the full Fundudzi Forensic Services report released by Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Wednesday former CEO Thabang Moroe "instructed" communications officers Thamsanqa Mthembu and Koketso Gaofetoge to revoke media accreditation of five journalists last year.

Fundudzi was tasked, among seven major items in their investigations scope, to solve the "who done it" of the media revocation saga that led to Moroe's December suspension, which had a domino effect on the entire cricketing organisation.

The five journalists were Firdose Moonda, Telford Vice, Ken Borland, Neil Manthorp and Stuart Hess.

READ | Full Fundudzi report finally released

The matter relating to the banning of journalists is dealt with extensively in the report.

No less than 20 pages are dedicated to the events that led up to, including, and the ramifications of the withdrawal of media accreditation for the five scribes.

It’s apparent that there was simmering organisational unhappiness about the perceived negative reporting the organisation was getting from the press, most specifically from the aforementioned writers.

Former CSA president Chris Nenzani, Moroe and current acting CEO Kugandrie Govender expressed a level of concern at and discussed the reportage on the organisation. They were also said to be unhappy with CSA allegedly not being given fair write of reply to stories published.

Nenzani and Moroe allegedly wanted "severe action" taken against "macavelian" (Machiavellian) journalism. As to what that severe action was, it’s not specified in the report.

However, Mthembu’s and Gaofetoge’s versions of events were that Moroe had continuously asked them, in and out of meetings, about when they were revoking journalists’ accreditations.

"Mthembu indicated that he was made aware that the issue of revocation of media accreditation was discussed at CSA EXCO prior to him joining CSA," the Fundudzi report says.

"Mthembu indicated that Govender informed him that previously Moroe asked her to revoke media accreditation of certain journalists that Moroe had identified.

"Govender indicated that during a CSA EXCO meeting in which she raised the issue of negative reporting by media, Moroe indicated that CSA should consider to 'close our home'."

Govender, however, disputed Mthembu’s claims that Moroe requested her to revoke the journalists' accreditation.

It was said that Mthembu, the then head of communications, and Gaofetoge, who acted as head of media for a period, advised Moroe against revoking journalists’ accreditation in executive council meetings (whose records could not be established).

Despite that, Fundudzi found that Mthembu played a heavy hand in and made the decisive communication that resulted in subordinates within the media department Gaofetoge and Sipokazi Sokanyile acting on his instructions.

Two days before the 25 November eventually banning of the five, Mthembu sent a decisive WhatsApp text to Sokanyile, said Fundudzi, in which he said he "received a nod from the CEO (Moroe) to withdraw the membership" of the five journalists.

Wrote Mthembu:

"I need your (Sokanyile’s) urgent input on a drive that I need for my Monday EXCO Meeting. Can you please develop a new list of journos that we can invite to a press conference, games and other future CSA activities.

"I am looking for Black journos, Indian and Coloured journos including some white journos that you propose we work with going forward. I have received a nod from the CEO to withdraw the membership of the people we spoke about yesterday.

"For the English tour, please immediately ensure that Firdose Moonda, Telford Vice, Stuart Hess and Ken Borland do not receive an invite from CS and that their accreditation is revoked. If there is any other journalist that you feel needs to make the list then I suggest you add them to my list. Keep this confidential for now."

Subsequently, Sokanyile presented him with an alternative course of action, which included documented face-to-face meetings with the "problematic" journalists, with a mediator.

If that failed, only then send complaints letters to their editors, write to the Press Ombud and suspend special privileges or revoke accreditation.

READ MORE | Proteas focused on fight against racism and GBV

Despite that, Mthembu wrote to Sokanyile and Gaofetoge saying: "Spokie and KK, I am sending this for your actioning. Please deregister all the people that we have discussed. They are not to form part of any planned future CSA engagements."

On 25 November 2019, Gaofetoge, following Mthembu’s documented directive, wrote to CSA ticketing officer Daryl Barrufol, instructing him to revoke the five journalists’ accreditation.

Screengrabs of group WhatsApp messages former HR consultant Chantel Moon shared to Fundudzi’s investigators show that Mthembu was acting under Moroe’s instruction.

As such, Fundudzi found that:

  • Mthembu and Gaofetoge revoked accreditation of the above-mentioned five journalists on 25 November 2019 upon instructions from Moroe.
  • In revoking media accreditation of the five journalists, Moroe failed to promote and protect the interests, activities and welfare of CSA in contravention of clause 4.1 of his contract of employment.
  • Moroe failed to act in the best interest of CSA in contravention of section 76(3)(b) of the Companies Act in that he revoked or caused to be revoked media accreditation of the five journalists, which conduct resulted in sponsors raising serious concerns and reservations.
  • Gaofetoge requested Daryl Baruffol to inform the respective cricket ground managers of the revocation of the media accreditation of the five journalists.
  • Gaofetoge reinstated the accreditation of the five journalists on 2 December 2019, following media onslaught and concerns raised on social media.
  • Various sponsors, including Standard Bank, Momentum, Sunfoil, KFC raised their dissatisfaction about the manner in which CSA handled the revocation of media accreditation of the five journalists.
  • The revocation of the journalist’s media accreditation denigrated or harmed the public image (reputation) of Cricket or CSA in contravention of clause 2.1 of the CSA’s Code of Conduct.
  • The revocation of the journalist’s media accreditation brought CSA’s name into disrepute with various sponsors expressing their concerns about developments at CSA.
  • The revocation of media accreditation was not sanctioned by the Board nor was it discussed at Board level prior to its implementation.

Moroe eventually apologised to the five journalists and issued a public apology, following public backlash at the decision, media criticism all round and sponsors’ dismay at the bad publicity.

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