Cricket South Africa will embark on a process of reparations for anyone involved in the game who has been discriminated against in the past as part of their Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) project. Compensation amounts will be determined after complaints have been heard and mediated by the newly appointed transformation ombudsman Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, who will also be responsible for setting up the Restoration Fund.
"My expectation is that based on the complaints, the ombudsman will be able to categorise them, and based on that, he will be able to determine what percentage goes to which player," Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, a CSA Independent Board Director and their transformation chair, said. "If you work in an asbestos factory and they are affected by TB, you get compensated. There's nothing wrong with compensation when people have lost income."
That means that anyone who believes they were denied opportunities on racial grounds could approach the ombudsman, who will then have to determine the severity of their case and the amount of compensation .The money for the fund has yet to be secured but CSA are hopeful of raising it through corporate involvement and even the South African government. "We've got to still raise the funds to see how we are going to restore. There are a lot of companies, even government, that is ready to restore people," Kula-Ameyaw said. "The money will change hand at some point but the modalities and the formula must be worked out. It could even be after a year because the ombudsman will take a few months to set up and deal with complaints."
While the finer details, including a timeline, have not yet been finalised, Kula-Ameyaw called the launch of the SJN "one brick in this nation-building house," which seeks to ensure that "everyone will be treated fairly in the game of cricket". It also comes after several stories of exclusion were revealed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Former players and coaches have spoken out in the media and while none have actively asked for compensation (Thami Tsolekile demanded an apology), CSA are seeking to make financial contributions to those who were not able to earn money from the game because of discrimination.
Potentially, players who see themselves as victims of the current target system which requires franchise teams to field a minimum of six players of colour of which three must be black African, could also approach the ombudsman.
As an example, this might mean a player like Aaron Phangiso, who went to the 2015 World Cup and was the only member of the squad who did not play a game even after South Africa qualified for the quarter-finals with a game to spare, may be compensated in match fees or that Geoffrey Toyana, who missed out on the national coaching job in 2017 (which former CSA president Chris Nenzani has now called a "missed opportunity,") may have a case for reparations.
The ombudsman's functions are not limited to people of colour only and Kula-Ameyaw indicated that anyone who has been involved in the game, at any level, can approach the ombudsman. "If something is fair, it will be fair to everybody," she said.
Potentially, that opens the door for players who see themselves as victims of the current target system, which requires franchise teams to field a minimum of six players of colour of which three must be black African. An example of such is Leus du Plooy, who told the Afrikaans-language publication Netwerk24 in February that the reason he signed a Kolpak deal with Derbybshire was because, "the system we have disadvantages young, white players in particular."
Although the SJN will be open to hearing, and addressing, all stories of exclusion, Kula-Ameyaw stressed that CSA still need to accelerate the pace of change and ensure more representation for people of colour. While the work of the ombudsman will deal with historical complaints, CSA will continue its own transformation work, with an emphasis on on-field demographics. "Where we will focus the most, is the actual game. The plans will include building talent aggressively," Kula-Ameyaw said. "The long-term plan is to make sure there is no racism in sport; no discrimination."
The SJN will be supported by nine former players, who have been named as the project's ambassadors, and will assist with raising public awareness of the campaign. Some of the ambassadors, such as Makhaya Ntini, Monde Zondeki and Toyana, have already gone public with their experiences of discrimination. The list of ambassadors is: Zondeki, Gary Kirsten, Lance Klusener, Toyana, Ntini, Marcia Letsoalo, Shandre Fritz, Nolubabalo Ndzundzu and Dinesha Devnarain.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent