Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher face hearing over racial discrimination accusations

Graeme Smith

Director of Cricket Graeme Smith and Proteas Team director Mark Boucher will face formal hearings into claims of racial discrimination, Cricket South Africa announced on Monday.

The announcement comes six days before the start of a high-profile Test series against India and after a process of hearings into past instances of racism in South African cricket since the country was welcomed back into the international cricket family.

Smith played a key role in the negotiations that led to India agreeing to tour despite a spike in coronavirus infections in the host country, while Boucher is the national team coach.

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Both men will remain in their positions until after the hearings have been concluded.

Former skipper Smith and Boucher, along with now-retired batsman AB de Villiers, were implicated in a report by Social Justice and National Building (SJN) ombudsman Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza of acting in a “prejudicial or discriminatory manner” regarding team selection.

CSA acknowledged that Ntsebeza’s findings were “tentative” and that the ombudsman had said in his interim report released last week that he could not make definite findings.

“The Board has decided to institute formal enquiries into CSA employees, suppliers or contractors who are implicated by the SJN report,” read the CSA statement.

“The Board has done so mindful of its duty to treat allegations of racism or discrimination with the utmost seriousness and in a manner that ensures fairness and due process in terms of South Africa’s labour legislation and the Constitution.”

CSA chairperson Lawson Naidoo added: “We hope this will give implicated parties a fair opportunity to be heard so that finality can be achieved, and any final findings can then be acted on.”

Ntsebeza’s findings were criticised by Smith’s lawyer, in a statement issued on Friday.

“Some of the findings are entirely questionable and without any basis,” said Becker, who claimed Ntsebeza had ignored “important parts of the evidence” submitted by Smith and other implicated persons.

Becker also queried why the evidence submitted by complainants at the SJN hearings had not been tested and why witnesses had not been cross-examined.

Smith’s contract as DOC ends in March next year while Boucher was appointed through to the end of the 2023 Cricket World Cup.