Ombud spotlights 'fairness' on eve of cricket transformation hearings

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Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini and Francois Pienaar take the knee for the Black Lives Matter movement
Graeme Smith, Makhaya Ntini and Francois Pienaar take the knee for the Black Lives Matter movement
Lee Warren/Gallo Images
  • CSA transformation ombudsperson Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said fairness would be central to hearings that begin on Monday.
  • Ntsebeza said anyone mentioned unfavourably at the hearings would be given a fair right of reply.
  • Numerous ex-cricketers, including Makhaya Ntini, gave glimpses of their race-based ill-treatment last year.

Anyone hoping public hearings into transformation in cricket would develop a 'gotcha' tune will be disappointed, after transformation ombudsperson Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza emphasised that fairness would be central to proceedings.

Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) public hearings begin on Monday where civil society members, sportspersons, current and former cricketers will give their views on the thorny transformation matter in cricket.

After almost a year since CSA launched the Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) project, on the back of vociferous conversations on Black Lives Matter in cricket, the rubber is hitting the tar at last.

Numerous former cricketers, including celebrated Test centurion Makhaya Ntini, gave glimpses of their race-based ill-treatment last year during their time as Proteas.

Unfair selection practices, such as those that affected Khaya Zondo and Aaron Phangiso in 2015, were prominent topics of conversation. 

READ | Cricket transformation ombud's legal advisor: 'Ntini, Tsolekile stories were heart-breaking'

Radio airwaves and online and newspaper column spaces were filled with stories of past and present cricketers who felt hard done by in the system, some who alleged they were racially abused by ex-teammates physically. 

Ntsebeza said, however, there would be a strong emphasis on fairness during the proceedings, with each implicated person offered their right of reply.

"We’ve created this platform for people to speak their hearts out, and there are going to be people mentioned, which may be to their detriment," said Ntsebeza.

"[But] I want to make very it clear that no one is going to be treated unfairly in this project. Where a person has been mentioned in a way that is not favourable, then they must be given an opportunity to respond to allegations made about him or her.

"They will also have the opportunity to rebut everything that has been said about them in the course of testimony.

"We believe the process must be fair also for those about whom complaints are going to be made."

READ | How liminal figure Thami Tsolekile inspired transformation ombudsman legal advisor

However, Ntsebeza said the fair right of reply given to respondents would be on a voluntary basis, such that anyone mentioned unfavourably during the hearings could refuse to partake or give their side of events.

"We will offer to those implicated a right to rebut, so that they must not say [they] were unfairly treated by that process," said Ntsebeza.

"It’s so that we can balance what they would probably say are misrepresentations of either their motives of what they did or are downright lies.

"If, however, somebody does not take up the offer, it then cannot be said that the process was deliberately unfair."

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