Covid-19 means cricket ombud Ntsebedza will hold discrimination hearings virtually

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza says he is excited to lead the project and hit the ground running hard.
Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza says he is excited to lead the project and hit the ground running hard.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza has said he had hoped to crisscross the country to conduct hearings as he sets about his mission to investigate racial discrimination‚ past and present‚ in cricket but Covid-19 will restrict him to virtual proceedings.

Ntsebeza has officially been appointed as the transformation ombudsperson for Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) newly-established Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) project.

The SJN project is aimed at investigating racial prejudice against players‚ coaches and administrators‚ past and present‚ who were denied opportunities to prosper due to discrimination since CSA’s inception 30 years ago.

Ntsebeza has six months to investigate and come up with recommendations that will help uproot the scourge that has had its knee on the neck of the sport for the past three decades.

“I don’t have now the luxury of moving from town to town or from province to province as I had hoped that I would do. The pandemic has impacted upon the way in which we now can conduct the hearings‚” said Ntsebeza in his first interaction with the media since his appointment.

Ntsebeza said he and CSA agreed that due to Covid-19 the hearings would be done virtually.

“I now also am convinced that we could hold hearings virtually and on the basis of the old arrangement that I had proposed‚ I had the vision where we would be going from province to province to get those hearings.

“In the discussions that I have had with the board I have personally become convinced that six months is doable to achieve those specific objectives‚ which the nation will be able to follow in the hearings‚ which will be public through Zoom or whatever.

“The nation will be able to get a sense. Yes because we are not going to be longer than six months.

“This enquiry is going to be like a broad brush against the canvas‚ the nature of which will be able to give us sufficient information for us to be able to appreciate the injustices of the past that will be testified to by those who feel that they have been victimised by the manner in which cricket as a sporting code was managed.”

TimesLIVE has established that there was a R10-million budget bandied about when the SJN project was first announced in August last year.

CSA acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki‚ however‚ declined to divulge how much money has been budgeted to set up and maintain the project.

“I’m not going to give you an exact number because that is still a moving target. We don’t have a certain number to say this is how much we will spend‚” Moseki said.

“All the resources that the advocate requires to deliver on his mandate will be made available to him‚ including taking account of all those interactions throughout the country.

“There are processes that were actually followed to make sure we minimise the actual funds that are required but that does not mean the ombudsperson will not have enough resources.”

Moseki said CSA will assist anyone who may have challenges with the technology to connect digitally to the hearings.

“The initial plan was to travel around the country but with Covid that is not now practical‚” he said.

“So the ideal situation is that there will definitely be [Digital meeting platforms] Zoom and Teams meetings. And we are actually even willing to have our affiliates maybe throughout the country so that someone in KZN can go to our offices in Durban to connect‚ or someone in Border will go to our East London office.”

Ntsebeza is expected to kick-start his tenure with a planned meeting with a group of more than 40 former players who last year made statements during the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests in sport.

Makhaya Ntini‚ Geoffrey Toyana‚ Monde Zondeki‚ Lance Klusener‚ Gary Kirsten‚ Marcia Letsoalo‚ Shandre Fritz‚ Nolubabalo Ndzundzu and Dinesha Devnarain were announced as ambassadors for the project in August last year.