The Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings, being chaired by Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza, are scheduled to begin at the start of July. The hearings were scheduled to start during May but have been suspended until July to ensure that all legal questions have been dealt with properly. This all happened after Graeme Smith’s lawyer, David Becker, a former legal advisor of the International Cricket Council (ICC), wrote a letter to Adv. Ntsebeza with his concerns on behalf of Smith.
Does Cricket South Africa (CSA), with all its challenges, still need to have SJN hearings at this stage when the game is at its lowest level in its history in world cricket? The SJN hearings will only bring further division in the game and will not contribute to an already fragile unity because of politics and factionalism. The South African Cricketers’ Association has for the first time asked for the guarantee of a fair system as some of their members are uncomfortable with the SJN. This is the first time that the players’ association has entered the cricket political arena on behalf of its members.
The Becker letter on behalf of Smith, the CSA Director of Cricket, also shows that certain players, both past and present, do not trust the process. Smith will be heavily targeted by the 42 black players who signed the grievance document and are going to make submissions; most would have played under his captaincy in his Test career of 107 matches.
Also, the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit and their lawyer at the time, Becker, will be under scrutiny because of the 2015 banning of nine players, mainly black, who were found guilty of corruption during the Ram Slam T20.
This whole process was started by an independent board member, Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw, who was part of the CSA board that was disbanded by the Minister of Sport. This board member has no history of being involved in the administration of cricket or respect for the game, and even admitted that she could never watch a whole day of cricket.
It is hard to understand how these 42 cricketers feel that they have been discriminated against when many of them played more than a hundred matches for South Africa and earned millions of Rands in the process. Also, all the CSA Presidents and Chief Executive Officers the last 21 years have been non-white. Why were these grievances not raised years ago and handled by the top management of South African cricket?
There can be no doubt that no other sporting body in the world has been subjected to the political and factional bullying that South African cricket has had to deal with. The 1992 unity agreement with noble principles and ideals is long dead.