Trio of South Africa legends accused of racism in bombshell report

While English cricket has been enveloped in its own racism scandal stemming from Azeem Rafiq 's allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire, South African cricket has also been confronted with some uncomfortable truths.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) commissioned the Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings on racial discrimination within the game earlier this year and the commission has now produced a final report.

In the report, ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza concluded that previous CSA regimes and cricketing legends AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher had discriminated against players based on their race.

All three have captained their country during their respective careers, while Smith is currently South Africa's director of cricket and Boucher is their head coach.

Ex-South Africa spinner Paul Adams testified at the hearings that he was nicknamed "brown s***" during his time with the national team and that Boucher was among those who referred to him by the moniker.

In response, Boucher admitted signing a song which included the slur and apologised for his actions, saying he "deeply regrets and apologises for the part I played in joining in with my team-mates in singing offensive songs or using offensive nicknames."

The report concludes that Boucher's response to the allegations showed a "lack of sensitivity and understanding of the racist undertones" and that he is "apathetic towards diversity and transformation."

Smith, meanwhile, was implicated in South Africa's decision not to select Thami Tsolekile as Boucher's replacement behind the stumps following the latter's retirement due to injury.

Tsolekile was Boucher's number two at the time, but the decision was made to give makeshift wicketkeeper De Villiers the gloves instead.

Smith was South Africa's captain and, along with the CSA and selectors, is accused of failing Tsolekile and showing "clear signs of systemic racism".

The report states: "The decision of the panel was totally irrational and showed clear signs of systemic racism.

"CSA, Mr Graeme Smith and some selectors at the time really failed Mr Tsolekile and many black players of this time in many ways."

De Villiers was accused during the hearings of putting pressure on selectors to not select Khaya Zondo during a 2015 ODI series against India when he was captain.

When JP Duminy suffered an injury ahead of the final match of the series, South Africa parachuted Dean Elgar in to play ahead of Zondo.

Elgar had to be flown in early ahead of the Test series, while Zondo was already part of the ODI squad.

Former national selector Hussein Manack told the hearings: "If Khaya was the back-up batter, we needed to play him. The coach and captain were not happy with me.

"We had a discussion and I got back to the selectors and said do we play Khaya or not? There was some disagreement but the majority of the decision was that we said Khaya should play.

"The captain [de Villiers] was not happy. An hour or two later I got a call from the CEO and he said he just received a call from the captain who said he is not happy with the team.

"I went to the CEOs room and I got the distinct impression that the captain was very unhappy to the extent that, reading between the lines, I thought there was going to be some sort of fall out if he didn't get his team.

"I thought he was going to pull out of the team and threaten not to play. The words were not said but that's the impression I got."

When asked if he felt Zondo's omission was racially motivated, Manack said it was "difficult to escape that view" but admitted De Villiers did have "some cricketing reasons".

The report concludes that "Mr de Villiers unfairly discriminated against Mr Zondo on racial grounds".

De Villiers has refuted that assertion on social media, writing: "I support the aims of CSA’s Social Justice and Nation Building process, to ensure equal opportunities in cricket.

"However, in my career, I expressed honest cricketing opinions only ever based on what I believed was best for the team, never based on anyone’s race. That’s the fact."

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