We'll give people a chance to respond, says Cricket SA's transformation ombudsman Ntsebeza

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.

Cricket South Africa’s (CSA's) transformation ombudsman, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, has given assurances that those who are alleged to have participated in discriminatory practices against others within the game will be afforded an opportunity to provide their side of the story before the findings are made public.

Ntsebeza is busy sifting through submissions from players‚ coaches, administrators and stakeholders – past and present – who feel they were denied opportunities to prosper due to racial discrimination.

A deadline to make submissions has been extended to the end of this week on Friday May 7.

Ntsebeza, who headed the investigations unit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that was established to investigate gross human rights violations during apartheid, was appointed by CSA and mandated to investigate complaints which relate to unfair discrimination.

Prominent names of players, coaches, selectors, executives and stakeholders are expected to be implicated in the many submissions received so far and Ntsebeza said anyone who is mentioned or implicated will be afforded a right of reply before he finalises his findings.

“If there are people about whom adverse remarks have been made, for an instance, if you make statements that are adverse to Mr Ntsebeza, then we will say to Mr Ntsebeza, so and so has written something about you as a coach and he said you really treated him badly here and so,” said Ntsebeza.

“I will not want those statements to go public without them having had the benefit of a response to say here is an opportunity can you reply.”

Subject to change, the public hearings have been planned to commence on Monday May 17.

Ntsebeza is heading CSA’s social justice and nation building (SJN) project that seeks to redress the past and present injustices in cricket that are based on discrimination of any sort.

His mandate is to promote equal treatment in the game and determine the causes, nature and extent of racial discrimination, and the lack of transformation since CSA’s inception 30 years ago.

The SJN transformation project‚ the first of its kind in South African sports and the brainchild of former CSA independent director Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, was established following complaints from former players and coaches during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The first week of hearings will deal with those complaints and the relevant persons will be invited to make oral representations to the transformation Ombudsman.

Time will also be set aside for individual discussions between players, coaches and the transformation Ombudsman.

Ntsebeza said the hearings will mirror the TRC commission but warned that there would be limited cross examinations.

“I will make it a point that if we are going to have cross examinations of any sort it is going to be limited in terms of time and the points raised,” said the respected 71-year-old human and political rights lawyers.

“This is because one does not want people’s interpretations to be torn to tatters in certain circumstances where they have not even had opportunities.

“I remember there was an incident when people were given an opportunity before we made our final report at the TRC, we said there have been adverse remarks that have been said about you and here are they.

“We will say so and so testified on such a date and said these things about you. Before we make a final finding, we will give people an opportunity to give their side of the story or a response.

“I remember that [struggle veteran] Ronnie Kasrils is one of the people who took advantage of that invitation.

“There was this attack in the Ciskei by Oupa Gqozo’s army where people who were members and supporters of the ANC were killed and a lot of them were injured.

“There was an insinuation in the report that we made that Kasrils has wrongfully led the breaking away of these ANC supporters in such a way that he put their lives in danger, and the report was such that it reflected badly on him.

“We then gave him an opportunity and when he gave us an explanation we then realised that we can longer have the finding that we had come to against him.

“Without even coming to testify, he gave an explanation and after that we gave him a re-written finding which incorporated what he wanted put in that report and he was happy.

“But I’m not saying that is what is going to happen. We can’t afford to have people saying things about others that are prejudicial to their interests without those people having an opportunity to respond, whether the response is going to be verbal or in a written form.

“This is something again that will be determined by whether we have time to the opportunities given to people to come and put questions to those who say things about them.”