Inside the chaos that was, and is, Cricket South Africa

One of the great ironies of Cricket South Africa’s meltdown is the fact that it took eight months to dismiss Thabang Moroe as chief executive – ironic because he found the process pretty simple when he was in charge. According to them, he didn’t even need any evidence of wrong-doing to get rid of six senior members of staff.

Corrie van Zyl was subsequently found not guilty of the trumped up charges against him and reinstated but the other five remain sacked and they are not happy about it. They are just one of the reasons why SASCOC is attempting to appoint a task team to investigate the shambles that is CSA.

“We wish to bring to your attention matters at Cricket South Africa (CSA) which we hope will be addressed in a manner that will not only do justice to us but also ensure that our fundamental human rights are upheld as provided for by the constitution of the country,” said the five in a letter to SASCOC.

“We do realise that this imposition is out of the ordinary but the circumstances prevailing at the organisation are unusual and the authorities that we should normally look to for recourse have either abdicated their responsibilities or are generally complicit in the wrongdoing.”

“We wish to state categorically that our suspensions and subsequent dismissals were part of a witch hunt designed to unlawfully remove us from the organisation,” the letter says. Between them they make 42 claims of factual inaccuracies, intimidation, false charges and procedural errors in direct conflict with CSA’s own constitution.

They claim to have had deductions made from their salaries for alleged losses incurred by CSA but say no evidence was prevented.

“The organisation sought to starve us financially by withholding the emoluments of some of us during our suspensions and refusing to release others’ provident funds even after it purported to expel us.

“Our concern is that Cricket South Africa has, through various officials, misled and continues to mislead Parliament, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture and the public. By so doing, Cricket South Africa has created a narrative that the organisation’s woes are the results of irresponsible stakeholder and financial management for which we were suspended…”

“Cricket South Africa has been underhanded in its dealing with us by completely abandoning any ethics that demand that a disciplinary hearing is conducted in a manner that is lawful, procedurally fair and in the best interest of the organisation and the sport,” the letter says.

“We wish to assure you that we have documented evidence to support our position and are willing to cooperate with you to the fullest on the matter.

“We firmly believe our suspensions and ultimately our unfair and unlawful dismissals are interlinked to the entire governance crisis that has plagued CSA and ought to be reviewed or investigated. We remain committed to the game we love and the organization that we helped build.”

Naasei Appiah, chief operating officer – the most high profile of those sacked. Appiah was initially sacked for failure to make an Mzansi Super League image rights payment to the players. SACA confirmed almost immediately that the only two signatories on the CSA-SACA contract were their respective CEOs at the time, Moroe and Tony Irish. Only Moroe was authorised to make that payment.

In all, Appiah was presented with 23 charges ranging from dereliction of duty to fraud. He says he incurred “substantial legal costs” preparing his defense only for 14 charges of the charges to be dropped before his disciplinary hearing. He was found guilty of eight charges “…in a hearing that can only be politely described as laughable” but only dismissed for four of them because there was no sanction for the other four ‘offenses.’

He was granted leave to appeal and exonerated on three of the four charges by an independent tribunal chair (appointed by CSA) who recommended only a written warning due to Appiah’s “…limited involvement in the matter.”

“Cricket South Africa expressly refused to recognise the outcome of the appeal and demanded that I appeal once again (de novo) or be dismissed. This is at best jungle justice as no reasonable person can be expected to appeal a verdict that is in his favour. Furthermore this additional round of appeal was outside of CSA’s own policy requirements,” Appiah wrote.

“It is noteworthy that the code makes no provision for an exonerated party to appeal his exoneration. Neither would doing so be in keeping with common sense or natural law.” You couldn’t make it up. The matter is now under review at the Labour Court. Appiah was dismissed, ultimately, for waiving his right to appeal de novo – which, I’m told, means “over again.”

Lundi Maja, procurement manager, was “not afforded the minimum 48 hours, as provided for in CSA’s own disciplinary policy, to prepare my defense…” and describes, in detail, why he believes the disciplinary hearing was clearly “…persecution and not prosecution.”

Dalene Nolan, Appiah’s Personal assistant, was told the reason for her dismissal was “…’the travel’. There was no indication of what travel, when it occurred or what was wrong with it. Indeed, I believe firmly that the suspension was just a ploy to get me out of the office while certain people, purportedly acting on behalf of CSA, searched for evidence on which they could formulate charges to dismiss me. I was eventually charged with things such as working during my leave and traveling on the personal air miles of a colleague,” Nolan writes. She says CSA stopped paying her salary before the end of the hearing – “a clear indication that the outcome was a foregone conclusion.”

“I was finally unlawfully dismissed for manipulating a system I had no control or administrative rights over.”

Ziyanda Nkuta, senior finance manager, had already resigned from CSA and was serving her notice period when she was charged and suspended. She was dismissed after charges were laid but before she had the chance to reply.

“My outstanding salary and provident fund were unfairly and unlawfully withheld.

“Cricket South Africa instructed my provident fund providers not to release any funds to me… When I asked through my lawyer about my Provident Fund, Chantel Moon – CSA’s HR Consultant and a member of CSA’s Exco, purportedly on behalf of Cricket South Africa ignored my request. Moon subsequently sent me an email, months later, in which she blatantly lied that Cricket South Africa had not instructed my Provident Fund provider to release the funds to me. I have an email from the Provident Fund provider to the contrary.”

Even more damning is Nkuta’s claim that CSA lied to the parliamentary sports portfolio committee: “…its then Vice President, Beresford Williams, made a deliberate misrepresentation to parliament on 19 June 2020 that I was the Chief Financial Officer and I was on suspension. This was six (6) months after the organisation had unlawfully dismissed me and was calculated to cover up a lack of inclusion of black people and women in management.”

Clive Eksteen, head of sales and sponsorships, was also charged with the same non-payment of monies due to SACA. When he was cleared of that, he was “unlawfully dismissed for…entering into an agreement on behalf of Cricket South Africa. It is a matter of fact that the agreement for which I was dismissed was signed and entered into by my superior and line manager, Kugandrie Govender (Chief Commercial Officer),” writes Eksteen. Govender is now the acting CEO of CSA.

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