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News

CSA to launch formal inquiry into conduct of Smith and Boucher

The inquiry will take place early in 2022 and will be conducted by independent legal professionals

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
20-Dec-2021
Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher played 257 international games alongside each other for South Africa

The SJN report made tentative findings that Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher had engaged in prejudicial conduct  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Cricket South Africa (CSA) will launch a formal inquiry into the conduct of director of cricket Graeme Smith and the national men's head coach Mark Boucher after reviewing the contents of the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report. The inquiry will take place early in 2022 and will be conducted by independent legal professionals. Both Smith and Boucher remain in their positions and will continue to carry out their duties for the series against India, which starts on Boxing Day.
The SJN report, which was made public last Wednesday, made tentative findings that Smith, Boucher and former international AB de Villiers, amongst others, had engaged in conduct that was prejudicial and discriminatory on the basis of race. However, the ombudsman, Dumisa Ntsebeza, was unable to make definite findings and recommended a further process be undertaken, which CSA will now embark on. Smith and Boucher are not the only figures who will be investigated, but are the most high-profile, as CSA looks into all areas of its operation.
"The Board has decided to institute formal enquiries into CSA employees, suppliers or contractors who are implicated by the SJN report," a CSA statement, issued on Monday morning, read. "The Board has done so mindful of its duty to treat allegations of racism or discrimination with the utmost seriousness and in a manner that ensures fairness and due process in terms of South Africa's labour legislation and the Constitution."
ESPNcricinfo understands that the new review process has been undertaken, in part, because CSA faced a legal threat from parties who had been implicated in the report because the findings were "tentative." Therefore, if CSA has acted on those findings, they were at risk of their conduct being reviewed in the courts.
The inquiry will also give anyone alleged to have acted in ways that are biased a further opportunity to respond, in addition to their testimony at the SJN. Both Smith and Boucher submitted written affidavits to the ombudsman but did not appear to give oral evidence. It is not yet clear which route will be offered to them in the new process. "We hope this will give implicated parties a fair opportunity to be heard so that finality can be achieved, and any final findings can then be acted on," Lawson Naidoo, CSA board chair, said.
CSA will also announce further steps and actions it intends to take to transform cricket, in line with the SJN report in the new year. Among the SJN's other recommendations was a suggestion to review payment structures to ensure reserve players on tour are adequately compensated and specifically to look at payments in the women's game, with a view to closing the gender-pay gap, a focus on grassroots development, the establishment of an anonymous complaints service for any further cases of discrimination and the appointing of a permanent ombudsman.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent