South Africa legend Graeme Smith cleared of racism and slams ‘baseless allegations’

South African legend Graeme Smith, the former CSA director of cricket, has been cleared of racism by two independent referees after allegations were made against him

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith

former South Africa captain Graem Smith was acquitted of racism charges by two independent judges.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) commissioned the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings on racial discrimination in play last year and the commission produced a final report in December. In the report, Ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza concluded that previous CSA regimes had discriminated against players based on their race, with Smith being among those accused of racism.

Smith, who led South Africa in 109 test matches and was director of cricket at the time the report was published, was involved in the decision not to select wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile after Boucher was forced to retire through injury. Tsolekile was considered next in line after Boucher, but provisional wicketkeeper De Villiers was handed the gloves instead.

As South Africa’s captain at the time, Smith was accused of letting down Tsolekile by the report, which concluded: “The panel’s decision [not to select Tsolekile] was completely irrational and showed clear signs of systemic racism. CSA, Mr Graeme Smith and some selectors of the time really let down Mr Tsolekile and many black players of the time in many ways.”

It has also been claimed that Smith was “racially biased towards black leadership at CSA” and that his appointment of Boucher as head coach in 2019 in place of Enoch Nkwe “equated to unfair racial discrimination.” However, the 41-year-old has now been acquitted of racism by an independent arbitration board.

In a statement, CSA stressed that the conclusions of the SJN report were “preliminary findings” and revealed that the arbitrators found “no substantive evidence” that Smith engaged in racial discrimination.

The governing body stated: “In the award, Adv Maenetje SC and Adv Bishop have stated that:

1. There was no evidence to conclude that Mr Smith was involved in racial discrimination against Mr Thami Tsolekile in the period 2012-2014;
2. There was no evidence to conclude that Mr. Smith was racially biased against black leadership at CSA; and
3. There was no evidence on which to conclude that Mr Smith’s appointment of Mr Mark Boucher to coach the men’s Proteas team in place of Mr Enoch Nkwe in 2019 amounted to unfair racial discrimination.

In a statement of his own, Smith called the allegations “baseless” and said: “I’m grateful that my name has finally been cleared. I have given South African cricket my best as a player, captain and administrator for the last 20 years.

“So it was extremely difficult for both me and my family to hear these unfounded allegations of racism. It has been exhausting and distracting, not least because South African cricket has also gone through a well-publicized rebuilding process that has required a great deal of attention.

“I’m just delighted that we’ve now gone through a robust arbitration process before independent, objective judges and that I’ve been fully vindicated.” Smith gave up his position as Director of Cricket last month.

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