Sport

CRICKET HEARING

Setback for disciplinary case against Proteas coach Mark Boucher after Paul Adams refuses to testify

Proteas coach Mark Boucher. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)
By Craig Ray
08 May 2022 6

Cricket South Africa’s Social Justice and Nation Building hearing into Proteas coach Mark Boucher has been undermined after former Proteas spinner Paul Adams said he would take no further part in pursuing Boucher.

Former Proteas spin bowler Paul Adams, whose testimony at last year’s Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings is central to a disciplinary case (DC) against Proteas coach Mark Boucher, won’t testify at the latter’s hearing.

Adams, who named Boucher at SJN as one of the players who called him a “brown shit” in a team song more than 20 years ago, issued a statement on Sunday saying he had said his piece and would take no further part in pursuing Boucher.

While Adams seems reluctant to press on with the matter, his refusal to subject his SJN testimony to further scrutiny at Boucher’s DC seriously weakens Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) case against the Proteas coach.

Even though Adams stated he never wanted to “single Boucher out”, the fact remains he did just that — by naming him at the SJN. And without the opportunity for both CSA and Boucher’s legal representatives to test Adams’ SJN statements, the case against the coach has been undermined.

“I went to SJN with no malice but with good intentions, so that present and future players, irrespective of race, wouldn’t have to go through what I and other players did in those times,” Adams said in his statement.

“Also, to make people aware that there needs to be education and acknowledgement around racism and for us to have a greater respect for each other within our society in South Africa.

“In my testimony, I said that during my time in the national team there was a culture within that environment that felt it was fine for a derogatory nickname given to me to be sung during fines meetings in the changing room by my fellow teammates.

“I indicated, upon reflection and after discussing with my wife (my girlfriend at the time) that I felt humiliated by the song. Not at any stage did I mention any player’s name who may have initiated the song.

“The only time I confirmed a name was when the panel asked if I addressed Mark Boucher personally regarding the nickname and I replied that he was part of a broader group that sang the song and that I never addressed the matter within the team environment at the time.

“I was young and naïve at the time, trying to fit in and represent my country as best I could. Not at any stage did I go in there with the intention to single Mark Boucher out.

“It is not my job or desire to find Mark Boucher guilty or not guilty, and to be cross-examined and turned into the main focus of attention. Therefore, I will not be testifying at Mark Boucher’s upcoming disciplinary hearing.”

After Zondo findings, what will ANC do about ‘Gupta Minister’ Mosebenzi Zwane?

Can SJN testimony be admitted?

There is no reason to doubt Adams’ SJN testimony and his recollection, especially as Boucher issued a written apology to the SJN last year for his role in the team song, but many questions still need answering.

It’s also worth noting that, legally, Boucher’s apology does not amount to an admission of guilt of the specific CSA charge against him. The final SJN report, written by ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza, was critical of Boucher’s apology, stating that Boucher did not “understand the South African apartheid/discriminatory and racist history”.

The SJN report also concluded that Boucher’s apology was “ignorant and ill-considered”.

But Adams’ refusal to testify at Boucher’s DC, scheduled for 16-20 May, means that his testimony from the SJN is unlikely to be admitted if it cannot be tested by the defence.

The already questionable SJN report will be weaker without a key witness elaborating on events that took place more than 20 years ago.

Considering that the “Adams issue” was one of the pillars of the charges against Boucher, the case could be teetering before it has even started. And DC chairperson Terry Motau does not have the authority to summon Adams since he is not a CSA employee.

Nkwe issue 

CSA’s case is further undermined because it’s unlikely that another key witness, former Proteas assistant coach Enoch Nkwe, will testify at Boucher’s DC.

Several of the charges against Boucher deal with his alleged discriminatory attitude towards Nkwe.

In the seven-page charge sheet sent to Boucher on 17 January — a day before the first One-Day International against India — Boucher is repeatedly labelled as a “racist”.

The crux of the charges against Boucher are that:

  • You have historically repeatedly used racist and/or offensive and/or inappropriate nicknames regarding a Proteas team-mate;
  • Having had your racist and/or offensive and/or inappropriate utterances drawn to your attention, you failed to adequately and/or sufficiently and/or appropriately apologise for these utterances and/or acknowledge the racist nature of these utterances and/or hurt that they caused;
  • You have conducted yourself in a racist or subliminally racist manner;
  • You have conducted yourself in a manner which is unbecoming of an employee in your position;

The charge sheet goes on to say:

“When dealing with the Black Lives Matter issue and the question of ‘taking the knee’, you allegedly dealt with the white players’ concerns and requested that the team manager [who is black] deal with the black players’ concerns.

“This allegedly created or exacerbated the division and alienated players and the team. You allegedly did not formalise any documented ‘roles and responsibilities’ or meaningful KPIs [key performance indicators] for the assistant coach, Mr Nkwe.

“You allegedly did not provide any specific or sufficiently specific and defined role for Mr Nkwe and no ‘personal development plans’ were documented or implemented for Mr Nkwe; and you allegedly treated Mr Nkwe in a manner unbecoming of a leader in your position.”

As Boucher intends to defend himself against all these charges and without key witnesses testifying, CSA’s case against the coach is under pressure.

The SJN report, which was accepted by the current CSA board despite warnings that it was flawed, has been weakened by a recent arbitration award in favour of former CSA director of cricket, Graeme Smith.

The same report forms the basis of charges against Boucher. With Adams and Nkwe unwilling to testify, it raises the possibility that Boucher’s DC is now little more than a box-ticking exercise. DM

 

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 6

  • Judging by the formulation in his report it seems that the ombudsman, Dumisa Ntsebeza, was not impartial in his assessment. Does the manner in which this enquiry has been handled advance social justice (whatever this means) and nation building? Racism can be found across the whole spectrum of SA society, time for Mr. Naidoo and friends to own up.

    • I totally agree, and just based on the wording used by the ombudsman in his findings, is there not a case to charge him with racial discrimination? There is not a commentator in the country who has not referred to this report as being “flawed” and somewhat biased, and yet Mr. Naidoo chose to use the questionable findings to initiate a kangaroo court to try and make Boucher a scapegoat. How much of the Ombudsman findings represent his own personal beliefs – why should he not be asked to answer for his very unprofessional handling of the SJN Report.

  • Let’s hope this witchhunt now comes to an end but I doubt it. CSA seems hellbent on pretending to be the ‘good guys’ while they are dragging our cricket name and all the good that has been achieved into the mud with them.

  • In a labour matter, one can only charge someone with disciplinary action for something they allegedly did while in that position. How is it even feasible in any way to have a disciplinary action against someone for an allegation from a time long before he/she was employed? The fact that legal professionals can even think to do so, leads me to no other conclusion as to that this is a witch hunt.

    Adams confirms he mentioned no names, until he was explicitly asked to “implicate” Boucher. Makes one wonder.

    On the other matters, the inference drawn that actions were “racist” in itself seems racist in nature – i.e. to see racism by assuming an action is racist purely based on the coincidence that the individuals involved were of different colour.

    The problem with bigots of all kinds is that they look at events through prejudiced glasses, and sees “proof” where there is no issue. If Boucher did the same to a female person, would that make him sexist?

    CSA can protest all they want, this is a witch hunt.
    B.t.w. – I acknowledge that a lot happened in the past where people acted in error – but as young people everywhere, one learns and improves your values through own error and experience.

  • The withdrawal of all charges against Mark Boucher says it all! Now the ombudsman and KSA should be charged with malicious prosecution, their actions were disgraceful and they should be severely censured. We have had enough of these kangaroo courts.

  • Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted