Former CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith has issued a statement after being cleared of racism allegations against him.
Smith’s disciplinary hearing was the result of the “tentative findings” of Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) chairperson Adv Dumisa Ntsebeza.
In the arbitration award, Adv Ngwako Maenetje and Adv Michael Bishop determined that there was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Smith engaged in racial discrimination against Thami Tsolekile during the period 2012 to 2014.
It had been alleged that Smith, while Proteas captain, discriminated against 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 well-respected advocates also determined that there was no evidentiary basis to conclude that Smith was racially biased against black leadership at CSA or to conclude that Smith’s appointment of Mark Boucher, rather than Enoch Nkwe, as coach of the men’s Proteas team in 2019 amounted to unfair racial discrimination.
“I’m grateful that my name has finally been cleared,” said Smith, whose full-time two-year contract with CSA expired at the end of March.
“It has been exhausting and distracting, not least because South African cricket has also been going through a well-publicised rebuilding process which has required a lot of attention.
“I’m just pleased that we have now gone through a robust arbitration process before independent, objective arbitrators and I have been completely vindicated.”
David Becker, Smith’s attorney said: “Unfortunately there were a multitude of opportunistic claims and insinuations made before the SJN which were not properly tested and were clearly false.
“The allegations made against Graeme Smith, in particular, were made by a small group of disgruntled individuals with an obvious agenda to tarnish his good name and have him removed as the director of cricket.
“These vexatious claims and insinuations were serious and defamatory. Graeme has every right to feel aggrieved by these personal attacks. However, it is a testimony to his character and leadership that he has held his head up high throughout this process, focused on the job at hand and continued to play a hugely significant role in assisting South African cricket.
“Graeme remains enormously grateful for the opportunity to serve South African cricket.”