Drama as Cricket SA board member takes the organisation to court over his 'removal'

Former player Omphile Ramela is taking the Cricket South Africa interim board to court to challenge his removal as a director.
Former player Omphile Ramela is taking the Cricket South Africa interim board to court to challenge his removal as a director.
Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

Former player Omphile Ramela has lodged papers at the Johannesburg High Court after he was controversially asked to excuse himself and subsequently removed as Cricket South Africa (CSA) director by the organisation's interim board last month.

The feisty Ramela and fellow CSA board director Xolani Vonya were barred from participating in activities and meetings after a board resolution determined their fate. They were subsequently painted as troublemakers.

Ramela confirmed to TimesLIVE that he will challenge his removal.

“Indeed I have lodged [papers] with the High Court‚” said Ramela.

There were legal question marks over the decision‚ notably on whether the interim board has the authority to remove fellow members‚ and Ramela will put this to the test.

The two were deemed to be destructive figures that were holding back the work of the CSA interim board.

Ramela‚ a former Lions star and Cobras captain‚ was president of the influential South African Cricketers Association (Saca) until last November when he was appointed as part of the CSA nine-member interim board named by sports minister Nathi Mthethwa.

He said the conduct of the CSA interim board is not what it should be and cautioned that the problems engulfing the administration of cricket will not go away if something is not done.

“While the [High Court] application deals with my removal‚ the premise of this move speaks to the conduct of this board as far [as] the principle of Law and order is concerned‚” said 32-year-old Ramela.

The CSA interim board said in a statement on Wednesday that it will oppose Ramela’s court action.

“The interim board is in receipt of papers filed by former IB director‚ Mr Omphile Ramela in which he challenges his removal as a director.

"The board is cited as a first respondent and the minister of sport and recreation as second respondent.

“The board will oppose the application as is without substance. “The legal process should be allowed to take its course.

"Until the matter is heard the board has no further comment.

“The board refers the media to the full statement of 15 December 2020 detailing reasons for Mr Ramela’s removal as a director‚” the CSA interim board said in a statement.

CSA interim board chairperson retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob said in a press conference last month that Ramela was an “obstructive” director and a “young man” who is hell-bent on frustrating the work of the interim board.

Ramela told TimesLIVE that the legal route was his only recourse.

“So the board may debate me to the point of removing me because of the issues I’ve raised on its conduct‚’ said Ramela.

“But ultimately‚ given that my concerns speak to the principle of its conduct in matters of law and procedure‚ the court is a place that can ventilate this matter and see it to its logical conclusion.

“The directors of this board serve in leadership structures of society. If its conduct is questionable in law and procedure then we as a country and the game of cricket have a much bigger problem.

“Lastly‚ the decisions I’m contesting speaks to the motive of this conduct. This board has not done anything to advance the game and enhance transformation on and off the field of play.

“Instead it has done the total opposite to a point of regressing any transformation gains and governance.

“This then begs the question‚ whose interest are they serving? Hopefully this court process will help pierce that veil and reveal the source of our problems in cricket‚” said Ramela.

Meanwhile‚ the CSA interim board is expected to make an announcement on the status of Vonya after he was flung out along with Ramela.

TimesLIVE understands that the former Eastern Cricket Union (ECU) president has been quietly welcomed back after allegations against him were allegedly disproven.

Questions were emailed to CSA interim board spokesperson Judith February‚ including Vonya's alleged return‚ but she said this query and many others that TimesLIVE may have will be answered at a media briefing to held on Thursday.

“We will host a media briefing on Thursday at 9.30am and you are welcome to ask whatever question you wish then‚” said February.

Yacoob said last month that Vonya's former union approached the mother body with “serious” allegations of misconduct against the director‚ including accusations of financial mismanagement during Vonya’s time as the ECU boss.

It appears the CSA interim board and chairperson Yacoob at the time took the representations made by Vonya’s former union ECU as the gospel.

Vonya was forced out of office at ECU despite a CSA-commissioned commission chaired by Judge Bernard Ngoepe found that the process that led to his ousting and charges against him were a “fishing expedition”.

“Easterns people [Vonya’s former affiliate ECU] have made representations to us and the allegations against him were very serious and went down to him bottom level honesty.

“Therefore‚ we came to the conclusion that‚ without thinking and suggesting that any of the allegations against him have been proved‚ we thought it would be safe to recuse him‚” Yacoob said during a media briefing on December 10.

It appears the CSA interim board has found nothing untoward from on the part of Vonya from the submissions made by ECU.

The CSA interim board will brief the media on Thursday and spokesperson Judith February said answers will be provided during that session when asked to confirm Ramela’s court action and if Vonya was as an active director or not.