SJN report says CSA discriminated against players on the basis of race

The 235-page report concluded that Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and AB de Villiers had all engaged in prejudicial conduct

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Mark Boucher admitted that he was among those who sang a song which included a slur against Paul Adams  •  Getty Images

Mark Boucher admitted that he was among those who sang a song which included a slur against Paul Adams  •  Getty Images

Cricket South Africa unfairly discriminated against players on the basis of race, according to the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) commission's final report. In the 235-page document, submitted to CSA, ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza concluded that the administration, as well as former captain and current director Graeme Smith, current head coach Mark Boucher and former captain AB de Villiers had all engaged in prejudicial conduct.
The report recommends that a permanent ombudsman is appointed, funded and handed resources to deal with race and gender-based complaints and that CSA puts in place an anonymous grievance policy. It does not have any consideration for reparations for those found to have been unfairly discriminated against but recommends that a permanent office considers if any reparations should be paid.
CSA confirmed that the SJN process, which was initially supposed to last four months but ended up lasting over six months, cost the organisation R7.5 million (US$500,000). However, they felt the process was both necessary and productive. CSA said the issues facing cricket "are a complex interaction of multiple factors stemming from the history of this country and consequent socio-economic factors that prevail today." They will engage with the report further in 2022.
No punitive action is being taken against anyone immediately, however.
"The board is still considering the report. It is a hefty document and needs a holistic response," Lawson Naidoo, the CSA board chairperson, told ESPNcricinfo.
"No decisions have been taken on any issues raised in the report and it would be premature to speculate on any action that may be taken. The board has got to look at the report in its entirety and engage with it seriously. This will be a continuation of what we are already doing. Overall, the SJN was an important process and that's why the board backed it all the way. It is now the responsibility of the board to engage with the report."
Three of the more eye-opening findings, however, revolve around the main pillars of South Africa's golden years - Smith, Boucher and de Villiers - and in two of the cases, specifically around the non-selection of black players.
Mark Boucher and Paul Adams
Adams testified that he was nicknamed "b**** s***" by his national team-mates, including Boucher. In a responding affidavit, Boucher admitted that he was among those who sang a song which included the slur. Boucher apologised and explained that white players were unprepared for the realities of post-Apartheid team dynamics. The ombudsman found that Boucher's response revealed a "lack of sensitivity and understanding of the racist undertones," of his comments, that Boucher attempted to excuse racism because it was done in a team setting and that he does "not comprehend the South African apartheid/discriminatory and racist history."
The reports cite case law in which those who have uttered racial slurs have been found guilty of hate speech and suggests that Boucher has not "undergone diversity and transformation training," and where he has, that he is "apathetic towards diversity and transformation."
Graeme Smith and Thami Tsolekile
This concerns Tsolekile's non-selection for the national side following the retirement of Boucher in 2012. At the time, Tsolekile was contracted to CSA, with a view to taking over from Boucher at the end of the series against England. However, Boucher's career was cut short by an eye injury at the start of the England tour, and de Villiers took over wicketkeeping duties until 2014, when Quinton de Kock made his debut.
"The decision of the panel was totally irrational and showed clear signs of systemic racism," the report reads. "CSA, Mr Graeme Smith and some selectors at the time really failed Mr Tsolekile and many black players of this time in many ways,"
AB de Villiers and Khaya Zondo
Khaya Zondo was part of South Africa's ODI squad that toured India in 2015 but was not selected in the team when JP Duminy was injured for the final match of the series. Instead, Dean Elgar, who was part of the Test squad was flown in early and played in that match. In testimony given to the SJN, Hussein Manack, the tour selector at the time, said he was pressured into selecting Elgar over Zondo by then-ODI captain AB de Villiers. Selection convenor Linda Zondi was not involved in the decision as he was not on the tour, and was also not consulted, after de Villiers discussed the matter with then-CEO Haroon Lorgat instead.
The ombudsman found that de Villiers flouted the National Selection policy by talking to Lorgat ahead of Zondi and that he did so "just to ensure that a black player was not placed in a position which he deemed as requiring greater experience," the report reads. "The only reasonable conclusion is that Mr de Villiers unfairly discriminated against Mr Zondo on racial grounds."
In response to the report, de Villiers told ESPNcricinfo that he had "wholly supported the aims of Cricket South Africa's Social Justice and Nation Building process, to ensure equal opportunities in our game. However, throughout my career, I expressed honest cricketing opinions only ever based on what I believed was best for the team, never based on anyone's race. That's the fact."
No evidence of racial discrimination
Roger Telemachus had alleged that he was overlooked for the position of Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland coach in favour of Michael Smith on the basis of race. This was disputed by CEO of the Dolphins, Heinrich Strydom, who detailed the appointment process. Smith's appointment was made in line with employment policy guidelines and on "a balance of probability, Mr Telemachus failed to demonstrate that there was a differentiation on the listed ground of race."
Lonwabo Tsotsobe's contention that he was made to carry bags of senior players while newly selected white members of the squad were not required to do the same, was contested by then-team manager Mohammed Moosajee. Tsotsobe's evidence and the subsequent rebuttal meant that the ombudsman concluded there was "insufficient evidence to make out a prima facie case of unfair racial discrimination."
Several testimonies were made by players who accepted sanctions for conspiring to fix matches in the 2015-16 domestic T20 competitions and claimed that they were investigated by anti-corruption officials on the basis of race. While the SJN was not mandated to look into the match-fixing investigation, the ombudsman "could not find any evidence supporting the contention that black players were targeted during the investigation."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent