In a dramatic statement released last week, CSA confirmed that Proteas coach Mark Boucher had been charged with ‘gross misconduct’. This comes after former national spinner Paul Adams implicated Boucher in a racial incident when the two were teammates, alleging that the former wicket-keeper was part of a group who called him a “brown sh*t”.
That incident is one of the main focal points of the case against Boucher, who will face a disciplinary hearing next month, which could lead to a potential dismissal.
“This follows December’s Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) report, which made tentative findings regarding allegations of discrimination and racism against various persons, including Mr Boucher. Specifically, during the SJN process, allegations of racism were levelled against Mr Boucher by his former Proteas teammate, Paul Adams,” the statement read.
CSA also confirmed that a charge sheet, containing both the disciplinary charges against Boucher, as well as his rights, was provided to him on 17 January. The upcoming inquiry will also consider concerns and allegations that arose following the resignation of former assistant coach, Enoch Nkwe.
Bavuma, who led the Proteas to a 3-0 series whitewash in the ODI matches against India, has since shared how challenging it has been to continue performing as this sort of news has done the rounds.
“Look, I don’t think it’s easy to captain [any] national team. There are a lot of dynamics that you need to manage. For me, it’s always about keeping the cricket the main focus among the guys,” said Bavuma.
“I hate to bring this up, but it’s been a challenging period for the team, for the players, for particular members of team management. There’s been a lot of scrutiny surrounding the team and the organisation.”
“It’s been about managing the conversations that happen in the change room, to ensure that our energy is 100% directed towards performing out on the field.
“For me, that’s been the biggest challenge and it’s a big responsibility, but it’s also been a bit of a privilege,” said Bavuma.
While Boucher is being charged with gross misconduct, which could lead to his dismissal, CSA emphasised it is important that the independent inquiry first needs to test all allegations before any question of sanction can arise.
According to Sunday’s Rapport newspaper, Boucher’s legal defence will be bankrolled by a group of super rich businessmen, with the group funding his defence reportedly outraged by CSA’s allegations of “overt and subliminal racism” against the 147-Test veteran.
South Africa’s richest man, Johann Rupert, responded on Twitter to a SA Cricket mag column with: “Let’s wait for the legal team of @markb46 to examine the ‘evidence’ and call some witnesses.”
It’s unclear whether Rupert is one of the businessmen bankrolling Boucher’s legal team. The pair are known to be good friends.
According to media reports, the charge sheet includes the following assertions: “The nature of your misconduct is gross and of such a serious nature to warrant termination of your employment.”
“Your conduct has resulted in an irretrievable breakdown in the trust relationship between you and CSA. In the circumstances, the sanction of dismissal will be sought before the Chairperson of the disciplinary enquiry,” the sheet continued.
Some of the accusations CSA levelled at Boucher included:
- 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; and/or
- You have conducted yourself in a manner which is unbecoming of an employee in your position
- Your conduct has brought CSA into disrepute.
Boucher appointment has been questioned
The fact remains that no matter whether the Proteas have turned a corner after recent results, there will need to be some legitimate answers provided to lingering questions.
When it came to Boucher’s appointment as head coach of Proteas prior to the start of the series with England in December 2019, the SJN reports states “it is clear Mr Graeme Smith did not follow any CSA policy in appointing Mr Boucher”.
Nkwe, who had been interim ‘Team Director’ in 2019 before Boucher’s appointment, was overlooked for the position, and the report contends that race played a determining factor in the decision making.
“Did Mr. Smith and CSA differentiate between black and white coaches when they appointed Mr Boucher to the head coach position? The answer to the question is in the affirmative.”
It further states that CSA “undermined its own transformation imperative in permitting the appointment of Mr Boucher ahead of Mr Nkwe.”
“Mr Nkwe’s resignation should not really come as a surprise to CSA,” the report also asserts in reference to the Proteas assistant coach stepping down in August this year after citing concerns about the team environment and culture.
In response to the SJN report, CSA’s Board agrees wholeheartedly that the issues facing cricket “are a complex interaction of multiple factors stemming from the history of this country and consequent socio-economic factors that prevail today.”
The CSA Board also thanked the Ombudsman for his insights and recommendations and will engage with the report further in the new year.
The Ombudsman’s process was initially due to last four months but was later extended to over six months at the Ombudsman’s request. CSA made available extensive legal and other resources to this Ombudsman for this process, including spending more than R7.5 million on the process, despite an initial budget of R5 million.
He also raised concerns over an “exclusionary culture” in certain incidents in the past when it came to selection of black players.