CSA have withdrawn all the Charges of gross misconduct against Men’s National Head Coach Mark Boucher just a week before his disciplinary hearing was scheduled to begin. The board is no longer seeking Boucher’s dismissal over the tentative findings of the SJN report which concluded that Boucher may have engaged in conduct that was prejudicial on the basis of race.
CSA’s dramatic decision came after Paul Adams & Enoch Nkwe confirmed that they won’t testify in the hearings which automatically cleared Boucher from all charges of prejudicial conduct.
“CSA has concluded that there is no basis to sustain any of the disciplinary charges, including charges of racism, [against Boucher]. The board of CSA has therefore formally and unreservedly withdrawn all of the charges.” A separate statement attributed to Boucher quoted him as saying: “I look forward to continuing to focus on my job and to taking the Proteas men’s team to even greater heights.”
In response to a question at the Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings in July, Adams said that the Boucher has been among teh teammates who had called him “brown shit” in a dressing room song during his playing career. The mention of Boucher’s name in Adam’s oral statement has forced the SJN committee to charge Boucher for being involved in prejudicial conduct on the basis of race.
Boucher was also charged over his relationship with former assistant coach Enoch Nkwe and over his handling of the Black Lives Matter issue within the team. Boucher is white, Adams brown, and Nkwe black.
“Mr. Adams recently announced that he had withdrawn from testifying against Mr. Boucher during the disciplinary hearing,” CSA’s statement said. “In doing so, Mr. Adams stated that his concerns articulated during the SJN process were about the overall ‘culture’ in the Proteas team during the early 2000s, rather than being about any particular player. During the SJN process, Mr. Boucher formally apologized to Mr. Adams. After the SJN process, Mr. Adams indicated to CSA’s lawyers that he accepts this apology. Mr. Nkwe decided that he too did not wish to testify against Mr. Boucher during the disciplinary hearing. In doing so, Mr. Nkwe stated publicly that he did not intend to take sides regarding Mr. Boucher and that ‘whatever happens in that process, I hope the outcome will be the one that’s best for the game’. CSA’s lawyers engaged with various other potential witnesses over the last month and concluded that none of the three charges were sustainable.”
The vindication by an independent arbitrator last month of the former director of cricket Graeme Smith, on charges of racism that also arose out of the SJN report, informed the decision on Boucher: “The very recent ruling.. in the Graeme Smith arbitration fortified the conclusion that the charges against Mr. Boucher would be dismissed. Having taken all of the above into account, as well as the advice of its external lawyers, CSA concluded that there was no basis to sustain any of the charges against Mr. Boucher.”
In his statement, Boucher was quoted as saying, “The allegations of racism which were leveled against me were unjustified and have caused me considerable hurt and anguish. The last few months have been extremely difficult to endure for me and my family. I am glad that the process has finally come to an end and that CSA has accepted that the charges against me are unsustainable.
“I stand by my apology to Paul given during the SJN process for the hurt he felt during his time as a Proteas player. As I stated in my affidavit to the SJN process, some of the things that were said and done in those days were totally inappropriate and unacceptable, and in retrospect, understandably offensive. I am proud to now be part of a team culture that is inclusive and whose objective is to be respectful to every person.”
The development can foster racial division in South Africa’s persistently dysfunctional cricketing system & can promote the use of racist language in the discussions on the game. Even the black & brown South Africans will feel cheated on being denied the best opportunity to secure a modicum of justice for historic wrongs they have been subjected to for years. If Boucher had been found guilty and consequently fired, the opposite would have applied.
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