Former Director of Cricket of Cricket South Africa Graeme Smith has been cleared of racism allegations by an independent panel.
Smith and current head coach Mark Boucher were among a number of CSA employees implicated in “tentative findings” made by the Social Justice and Nation Building Ombudsman last year into alleged discrimination within the sport’s national governing organisation in the past.
It had been alleged that Smith, while South Africa captain, discriminated against Thami Tsolekile, a specialist wicketkeeper after Mark Boucher was injured shortly before a Test series in England in 2012.
AB de Villiers, one of the team’s leading batsmen, kept wicket in the series which South Africa won. The other two charges related to Smith’s tenure as CSA director of cricket which ended at the end of March. He did not reapply for the position which is currently vacant.
Smith had been accused of being racially biased against black leadership because he did not want to report to Thabang Moroe, who was eventually dismissed in August 2020 for “acts of serious misconduct”.
The arbitrators also found no evidence to show racial discrimination in the appointment of Mark Boucher as head coach ahead of Enoch Nkwe, who had served briefly as team director.
Graeme Smith Cleared Racism Allegations
The arbitration had emanated from CSA’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) process. In the arbitration award, Adv Maenetje SC and Adv Bishop have determined that:
- There was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Mr. Smith engaged in racial discrimination against Mr. Thami Tsolekile during the period 2012-2014.
- There was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Mr. Smith was racially biased against black leadership at CSA.
- There was no evidentiary basis to conclude Mr. Smith’s appointment of Mr. Mark Boucher, rather than Mr. Enoch Nkwe, as coach of the men’s Proteas team in 2019 amounted to unfair racial discrimination.
Boucher has been accused of racism by former teammate Paul Adams and of sidelining his former assistant coach Enoch Nkwe. He denies both allegations and will face a CSA disciplinary hearing on charges of gross misconduct next month.
The panel concluded that there was no evidence that Smith, also a former captain of the national side, racially discriminated against former player Thami Tsolekile between 2012 and 2014, or that he was biased against Black leadership at CSA.
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Lawson Naidoo, Chair of the CSA Board, commented: “The manner in which these issues have been dealt with and resolved by the arbitration proceedings confirms CSA’s commitment to deal with the SJN issues in a manner that treats them with utmost seriousness but also ensures fairness, due process and finality.”
Naidoo added: “Now that finality on these processes has been reached, it is appropriate to recognise the extraordinary contribution that Graeme has made to South African cricket, first as the longest-serving test captain in cricket history and then as Director of Cricket from 2019 to 2022. His role as the DoC has been critical in rebuilding the Proteas Men’s team in particular and has laid a solid foundation for his successor.”
In a release on Sunday, CSA stated that “CSA appreciates it has been difficult for Mr Smith to endure the unwarranted public disclosures of his personal information, including his remuneration, during the SJN process. CSA regrets that this occurred and wishes Mr Smith everything of the best going forward.”