'I've never experienced AB de Villiers to be racist,' says former Proteas manager Moosajee

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AB de Villiers. (Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
AB de Villiers. (Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Former Proteas team manager Mohammed Moosajee said he didn't experience racism from former Proteas cricketer AB de Villiers.
  • De Villiers is at the heart of the 2015 selection saga where Khaya Zondo was not picked for the fifth ODI against India in Mumbai.
  • Moosajee also delved into Lonwabo Tsotsobe's fitness issues.

Former Proteas team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee said he did not experience racism from former Proteas cricketer AB de Villiers.

In what was well-presented and defended testimony at the Cricket South African Cricket for Social Justice and Nation-building hearings on Wednesday, Moosajee used the context of the contentious De Villiers/Khaya Zondo selection controversy that has become a flashpoint in the SJN hearings.

As the team doctor from 2003 and taking up the team manager role in 2008 until the end of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, Moosajee would have seen the development of De Villiers.

Moosajee, who explained how the outlook of the team changed from 2010 onwards when the various culture camps opened the eyes of the team to different cultural perspectives, said the matter boils down to unconscious bias.

"The captain was AB de Villiers at the time. Was AB racist? In my 15 years of working with him, I've never experienced him to be racist," Moosajee said.

"Whether it was a case of unconscious bias, that's a separate debate and that boils down to semantics. In the team environment, we'd spoken about things like unconscious bias, prejudice and racism."

Moosajee's sturdy testimony covered matters like his difficult relationship with former chief executive officer Thabang Moroe, whom Moosajee felt was obstructive to the greater good of the team and the organisation.

A matter Moosajee fully ventilated was Lonwabo Tsotsobe's fitness matter. In his testimony, Tsotsobe said he was forced to play while he was injured, but Moosajee provided clarity with regards to Tsotsobe, saying that Tsotsobe benefitted from being a black player while not being diligent with his fitness.

"Tsotsobe was not always diligent in meeting doctor's appointments and attending to rehabilitation sessions, as is evident from the emails that I received on 17 January 2014 and 5 February 2016," Moosajee said.

"Tsotsobe also had fitness issues on various occasions. Over a four-year period, he failed 15 out of 15 skinfold and five out of seven Yo-Yo fitness tests.

"These tests are based on objective measurement criteria and cannot be manipulated.

"Tsotsobe benefitted from being black. An example of this is when he was initially left out of the Proteas Squad for the 2013 tour to Sri Lanka.

"At the time, Russell Domingo was quoted in the media as saying: 'He had massive concerns about Lopsy's form, fitness and possibly his work ethic.'"

Moosajee also said administrators across the colour bar also need to be able to recognise their biases and confront their shortcomings for the betterment of the game.

"Some white players and administrators still need to appreciate the value of diversity, the need to level the playing fields and to break down barriers," Moosajee said.

"Some black players and administrators also need to recognise that they have contributed to further divisions in our societies.

"They need to be more inclusive and recognise that good people from all our communities are prepared to be sacrificial leaders and contribute to the desperately needed transformation agenda."

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