TELFORD VICE, KHANYISO TSHWAKU and CHUMANI BAMBANI
MATCH-FIXERS can expect to earn as much wrath as Cricket SA (CSA) can throw at them, chief executive Haroon Lorgat said on Tuesday.
But the ballooning corruption scandal is threatening to spiral out of CSA’s control, what with The Guardian naming former test wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile on Tuesday as another figure involved in an investigation in which Gulam Bodi has been named and suspended by CSA as an “intermediary” between players and match-fixers.
Bodi’s lawyer, Ayoob Kaka, said last week he and his client are currently studying a CSA charge sheet reportedly 13 pages long. Kaka said they would probably respond later this week.
Asked whether Tsolekile was involved and when Bodi would answer the charges, CSA spokesperson Altaaf Kazi said, “I can’t confirm anything.”
Tsolekile, whom The Guardian says “is alleged to have been paid at least R75 000 to improperly influence an aspect of last year’s Ram Slam (T20) competition” did not answer his phone when contacted for comment.
Told of Tsolekile being identified in the media, his coach at the Lions, Geoff Toyana, said, “Are you serious? I’m very surprised to hear that.”
Asked if Tsolekile was training with the Lions squad, Toyana said, “He’s been in Cape Town in rehab from an Achilles injury for three to four weeks, a period that ends on Friday.”
Toyana said he spoke to Tsolekile on Tuesday and that he expected him back in Johannesburg next week.
Lions chief executive Greg Fredericks made the point that “no other player (besides Bodi) has been suspended” for reasons other than suspect bowling actions.
“My big concern is how I protect my players from all this speculation,” Fredericks said.
Gauteng Cricket Board president Thabang Moroe said they were in the dark as to whether Tsolekile had been implicated but said that Bodi did not have his Lions contract renewed at the start of the season.
“It’s all speculation and it’s either everything is true or everything is a lie,” Moroe said. “We have been fielding many calls in regards to this and we’ve been asked if is it so and so, and so and so.
“We don’t know anything and we have no clue as to where the information is coming from.”
Another SA test player who has not been publicly named but has been repeatedly mentioned by several sources as being involved proclaimed his innocence on Tuesday.
“I haven’t heard anything and I don’t want to make any comment because I don’t want to get myself into any trouble,” the player said.
“They can do their investigation – I know I’m clean.”
Sources say at least one other player who was made an offer and did not take it seriously enough to report it has been cleared of major wrongdoing after handing over his telephone and banking records to investigators. He was also allegedly cleared by Bodi.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s Varsity Cricket week at the Wanderers yesterday, Lorgat said, “We do not take any sort of corruption lightly.
“We’ve got a zero tolerance approach. Anybody found guilty will have to answer, and if they are found guilty they will be sanctioned.
“We believe that there’s nothing greater than the integrity of the game. No individual should be spared if they’re found wanting.
“We’re busy with that investigation, and as I said to some of our commercial partners, you can’t tell me that in all of your business you don’t come towards somebody who has disappointed you; they’ve done something which is completely against the grain of what you believe, what you stand for; indeed, your policies.
“What do you do when you find them? You remove them. That’s what we will do.”
The most CSA could do is issue bans. But those who are sanctioned could appeal, and banning is a difficult argument to make successfully legally because the right to association is enshrined in SA’s constitution.
However, CSA are duty bound to alert the police to match-fixing and spot-fixing activity, because the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004 makes it an offence to proffer fixing offers as well as not to report having received such offers.
Depending on which court hears the case, offenders could be jailed for between five years and a life sentence.
The relevant part of the Act is known in legal circles as the “Hansie clause”, named after former SA captain Hansie Cronje – who was banned from cricket for life after admitting to his involvement with cricket’s gambling underworld in 2000.