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Cricket SA drops charges against Proteas coach Mark Boucher

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Proteas coach Mark Boucher will not go through a disciplinary hearing after Cricket South Africa dropped its charges against him.
Proteas coach Mark Boucher will not go through a disciplinary hearing after Cricket South Africa dropped its charges against him.
Image: Ashley Vlotman

Cricket SA (CSA) has withdrawn the charges of discrimination, including those of racism, it laid against Proteas head coach Mark Boucher and said there is no basis to sustain them.

This includes the charges arising from the SJN (Social Justice and Nation Building hearings) report and the investigation after Boucher's former assistant coach Enoch Nkwe’s resignation, CSA said.

One of the charges against Boucher was that he allegedly treated former assistant coach Nkwe “in a manner unbecoming of a leader in his position”.

The CSA board made the shock announcement in a lengthy statement on Tuesday. It said the refusal of key witnesses — Nkwe and ex-SA teammate Paul Adams — to testify at the hearing, which was set to run from May 16 to 20, were crucial to the decision.

CSA charged Boucher with gross misconduct in January after allegations of racism against the head coach emerged in Adams' testimony at the SJN.

The charges emanated from a report from the hearings that found Boucher engaged in racist behaviour by his participation in the overtly racist song that referred to Adams as “brown sh*t” during the team’s fines meetings when the two were Proteas teammates.

The SJN report recommended that CSA institute an independent disciplinary committee (DC) to investigate the matter further as its findings were “tentative”. CSA appointed Terry Motau SC to chair the independent committee.

With six days to go, and two days after Adams released a statement saying he would not testify at Boucher's DC, and Nkwe also withdrawing, CSA's case had lost its key witnesses.

“Mr Adams recently announced that he had withdrawn from testifying against Mr Boucher,” CSA said on Tuesday morning.

“In doing so, Mr Adams stated that his concerns articulated during the SJN process were about the overall 'culture' in the Proteas during the early 2000s, rather than being about any particular player.

“During the SJN process, Mr Boucher formally apologised to Mr Adams. After the SJN process, Mr Adams indicated to CSA’s lawyers that he accepted this apology.

“Mr Nkwe decided he too did not wish to testify against Mr Boucher during the disciplinary hearing. In doing so, Mr Nkwe stated publicly that he did not intend to take sides regarding Mr Boucher and that “whatever happens in that process, I hope the outcome will be the one that’s best for the game'.

“CSA’s lawyers engaged with various other potential witnesses over the last month and concluded that the none of the three charges were sustainable.”

The organisation said the recent finding by advocates Hamilton Maenetje SC and Michael Bishop in the Graeme Smith arbitration fortified the conclusion that the charges against Boucher would be dismissed.

CSA said it would contribute towards Boucher's legal fees.

“Having taken all of the above into account, as well as the advice of its external lawyers, CSA concluded that there was no basis to sustain any of the charges against Mr Boucher. CSA has therefore withdrawn the charges.”

CSA board chair Lawson Naidoo said: “CSA has at all times been committed to dealing with the SJN issues in a manner that treats them with utmost seriousness but also ensures fairness, due process and finality.

“The decision to withdraw the charges brings about finality on these issues for CSA and Mark and allows the focus to return to the cricket field — where we trust that Mark and the Proteas will go from strength to strength.”

He added: “The SJN process was never only or even mainly about the conduct of individuals. More fundamentally, it was about providing a platform for people involved in cricket to share their personal experiences of racial and gender discrimination and to allow for a careful consideration of the systemic measures necessary to redress these issues going forward for the future.

“The SJN process has certainly achieved that and the board is confident that the current team enjoys a culture of mutual respect and inclusivity.

“The board will in the near future announce further systemic initiatives in this regard.”

CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki said: “CSA appreciates that it has been very difficult for Mark to deal with these charges hanging over his head over the last few months.

“CSA regrets this. CSA is also appreciative of the fact that Mark has at all times conducted himself properly and professionally — refusing to be drawn into public debates about the charges and carrying out his duties with commitment and dedication.

“The performance of the Proteas Men’s team over this period has been extremely impressive, particularly in the Test arena, and this speaks to the efforts of Mark, his support staff and the players.”

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