Ntsebeza says there'll be compensation for victims of discrimination in cricket, if needs be

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza is Cricket South Africa's transformation ombudsman.
Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza is Cricket South Africa's transformation ombudsman.
Image: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced in July last year that its newly established transformation project will include the formation of a restoration fund to compensate those whose earnings were impacted by discrimination.

In the following month in August, CSA unveiled advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza as the ombudsman of the transformation project and it was dubbed Cricket for Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN).

The sports body reiterated the need for the formation of a restoration fund under the previous board.

The project was controversially put on hold in October by the interim board shortly after it was appointed by sports minister Nathi Mthetha, just days after the resignation en masse of the Chris Nenzani-led board.

After back and forth, the interim board revisited the project and officially launched it last month.

But there was surprisingly no mention of a restoration fund this time around when Ntsebeza was presented to the media for the first time by interim board member Professor Andre Odendaal during a press briefing last month.

Asked why there was suddenly no mention of a restoration fund in the CSA media statements over the SJN project during an interview with TimesLIVE, Ntsebeza gave an explanation.

Ntsebeza said the interim board made a decision not to include the restoration fund in his scope of mandate, but added that he had a sense there was a commitment towards its establishment.

“I think you will have noticed in the announcement made by Professor Odendaal [last month] that the interim board, in their wisdom, felt this [restoration fund] is something that should not form part of the current project because the current project should focus on establishing the wrongs that were done,” said Ntsebeza, the respected human and political rights advocate.

The 71-year-old Ntsebeza, who was the head of the investigations unit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that was setup in 1995 to investigate gross human rights violations during apartheid, has already confirmed that he will conduct his enquiries in a manner that will mirror the TRC, and have public hearings.

“In the previous configuration you will know that in the TRC there was a reparations committee, there was an amnesty committee and there was a human rights violations committee and all of that.

“The reparations committee was the one that determined whether or not there is a need to compensate those for the wrongs that have been done to them."

Ntsebeza’s mandate is to manage an independent complaints system that will look at the healing‚ restoration and uniting process of cricket players and fans‚ starting with former players.

Players, coaches, administrators and stakeholders of the past and present who feel they were racially discriminated against have been serving Ntsebeza with their submissions for the past few weeks.

A deadline to make submissions has been extended to Friday May 7.

Ntsebeza is sifting through the submissions and has said he may make recommendations in his final report for compensation of others, financial or otherwise, depending on the evidence led.

“Depending on what the findings are, it may well be the case that a new [incoming] Board may say, now that you are in this thing, we need you to do the best that you can to think about remedial measures.

“If the evidence has been such that it is palpably clear that people, who have been part of the squad, who toured with the team to Australia for an instance, because they did not get to play a single game, let alone a test match, because of discrimination, then their earnings were impacted. I may get that kind of evidence,” said Ntsebeza.

“When something translates into commercial terms then there will be a basis to say it does appear that there is a case here for reparations.

“But then the beauty of hearing the other side will be that there would be somebody who will be given a chance to say so and so is holding the wrong end of the stick.

“At that point you can ask the coaches and the selectors, the reason he did not play is because of this and that.”

The SJN project is a first of its kind in the country and is the brainchild of former CSA independent director Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw.