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Judge Nicholson opens Cricket SA probe to journalists

Staff Reporter, Sapa-AFP

After barring journalists from attending the probe into Cricket SA, Judge Chris Nicholson has changed his mind and opened the inquiry to the media.

Judge Chris Nicholson, who is overseeing the ministerial probe into the affairs of Cricket South Africa (CSA), “has changed his mind” and agreed to open the inquiry to journalists after finding a larger room to accommodate the proceedings.

Ahead of testimony from auditing firm KPMG, which had issued a report containing damning allegations of mismanagement and corruption against CSA’s chief executive officer Gerald Majola, Nicholson had ruled that proceedings be recorded in camera and that the media not be allowed to cover the testimonies.

Sports director-general Alec Moemi said this was to ensure “the smooth process of the inquiry” but that transcripts of the proceedings would be made available daily to both media and the public on the sports department’s website.

However, lawyers representing the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), had been assured the probe would be opened to the media, according to a sport24 report on Wednesday.

Making room
“Judge [Chris] Nicholson informed me that the reason that he didn’t allow journalists access was that the room wasn’t big enough,” Dario Milo of Webber Wentzel told the website.

“He has given [Sanef] the undertaking ... that a bigger room will be found and that the inquiry won’t proceed until the journalists can be accommodated.”

Manase Makwela, spokesperson for Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, said the inquiry committee had heard a presentation by KPMG on Wednesday, but the remainder of the oral reports would be open to the media.

“The judge [Chris Nicholson] said today the media were not allowed in, but he has changed his mind, and they will be allowed in from tomorrow,” Makwela said on Wednesday night.

According to the inquiries schedule, KPMG director Nosisa Fubu; service group leader for risk consultancy, Herman de Beer; Bruce Thornton, an associate director at KPMG risk consulting and senior manager Anne-Mari Klein gave evidence on Wednesday.

A KPMG audit report into allegations against the cricket body contained serious allegations of misconduct by CSA boss Majola.

Majola, together with other members of CSA are alleged to have received bonus payments totalling R4.7-million for South Africa hosting the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2009 following security concerns in India.

These bonuses were not reported to the cricket body’s remuneration committee as required. According to the KPMG report, Majola had personally pocketed R1.8-million.

It found that Majola had breached several sections of the Companies Act in negotiating the quickie-deal to bring the IPL to South Africa.

‘Smooth process’
Moemi said that he wanted to encourage members of the public with information to come forward. He said the rest of the schedule included “the usual suspects, if I can use that term”, and included former CSA remunerations committee chairperson Paul Harris, who has been critical of Majola’s role in organising the IPL to be hosted in South Africa in 2009.

Majola and his adversary at CSA, deposed president Mtutuzile Nyoka, are also likely to give evidence at the commission, as will the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee chair Tubby Reddy. The round of interviews is expected to last until December 7 according to Moemi.

He added that a “review” of the committee’s work would then follow and expressed the hope that the findings could be published by December 17.

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