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CSA hits back at claims of bias in match-fixing probe

Cricket South Africa has responded to allegations by former Proteas player Thami Tsolekile that its investigation into the 2015 Ram Slam match-fixing scandal was biased.

Former Proteas player Thami Tsolekile. Picture: Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - After former Protea Thami Tsolekile claimed Cricket South Africa (CSA) mishandled the match-fixing scandal relating to the 2015 Ram Slam competition earlier this week, CSA responded on Friday morning giving specifics on the case.

In a statement, CSA said, “Cricket South Africa has noted with concern some of the unfounded allegations in the media by certain of the players banned for their part in the match-fixing scandal arising from the 2015 Ram Slam competition.

Contrary to the allegation that SACA carried out the investigation, the investigation was carried out by CSA’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) under the guidance and authority of retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe, former Judge President of North Gauteng and South Gauteng."

The statement goes on to say that different sporting bodies, as well as investigative units, were involved in the investigation.

“A comprehensive investigation was carried out over approximately 18 months with the CSA Anti-Corruption Unit acting in collaboration with, and with the assistance of, Judge Ngoepe, specialist external lawyers, the ICC, the BCCI, the Hawks and an external digital forensic team. The CSA Board was kept regularly updated on developments pertaining to the investigation.

"At no time did any of the players or their respective attorneys submit that they were coerced into admitting their guilt or signing their Sanction Agreements,” the statement read.

It also said that the players were involved in informing the media of their offences.

“They … [the players] were consulted on, and provided input into, the respective press releases announcing confirmation of the offences to which they had admitted. Audio and video recordings were made of all the interviews with all the participants and now form part of the ongoing criminal investigation.”

On the claim that Judge Ngoepe himself added his voice on the allegation that Thami Tsolekile did not receive any evidence or charges during the investigation, CSA said: “This is not the truth. Mr Tsolekile received a formal charge sheet as is required under the Code. He was also presented with extensive evidence in the presence of his lawyer.”

The investigation was also accused of discrimination, but, the statement said, Judge Ngoepe said: “The allegation that the investigation deliberately targeted black players must also be rejected. Both white and black players were investigated and charged, based on the evidence that was collected and presented.”

“As regards the allegation that Vaughn van Jaarsveld was approached by Mr Bodi and failed to disclose this approach, CSA confirms that both he and Craig Alexander were approached by Mr Bodi and both players reported the matter to SACA and to the ACU as required by CSA Anti-Corruption Code and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Act 12 of 2004). Their possible involvement in the match-fixing scheme was fully investigated not only by the investigating team but also by the Hawks and they were cleared of any wrongdoing.”

CSA’s Anti-Corruption Unit officer, Louis Cole, on the allegations against Robbie Frylinck said: “The allegation of match-fixing during the Champions League by Mr Frylinck was never mentioned by Mr Tsolelike during his interviews with ACU. Both Mr Alexander and Van Jaarsveld reported to the ACU that Mr Bodi had mentioned this as part of his approach.

“Although that relates to a separate tournament outside South Africa and falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it was referred to the ICC ACU for investigation. At no stage prior to the Ram Slam investigation did Mr Tsolekile or any other player provide any evidence to substantiate this claim as required by the Code.

“According to Mr Bodi, he requested Mr van Jaarsveld to recruit Mr Frylinck to participate in the match-fixing scheme. This aspect was thoroughly investigated, including interviewing one of the bookmakers in India, and no evidence was uncovered to support the possibility that Mr Frylinck had been recruited.”