CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA has today banned four players for attempted match fixing, saying they breached CSA’s Anti-Corruption Code for Personnel (“the Code”). The banned players – who have admitted contraventions of the Code – are Jean Symes, Pumelela Matshikwe, Ethy Mbhalati and former Test wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile.
The banning of these four players follows lengthy investigations and the previous imposition by CSA in January 2016 of a 20-year ban on former Proteas, Lions and Titans player Gulam Bodi after Bodi had admitted charges of contriving or attempting to fix matches in the 2015 RAM SLAM T20 Challenge Series.
Bodi acted as an intermediary for international betting syndicates, approaching certain players with a view to engaging in fixing activities during the competition.
Jean Symes, an all-rounder formerly contracted to the Lions, has been banned for 7 years for – amongst several things – failing to disclose a payment which was given to him to procure a breach of the Code; and knowingly providing false information to investigaters.
Pumelela Matshikwe, a bowler formerly contracted to the Lions, and Ethy Mbhalati, a bowler formerly contracted to the Titans, have both been banned for 10 years (Matshikwe having 3 of his 10 years suspended) for – amongst several things – receiving a payment or incentive to fix or contrive to influence improperly a match or matches in the 2015 RAM SLAM..
Thami Tsolekile, the former Proteas wicketkeeper and former Lions captain, has received a ban of 12 years for – amongst several things – contriving to fix a match or matches in the 2015 RAM SLAM;and destroying evidence that was relevant to the investigation.
CSA said today that to the banned sportsmen’s credit, “all of these players eventually admitted their misconduct and co-operated with the investigators.
“They have also shown remorse for their actions. Importantly, each of them has indicated a willingness to engage in anti-corruption education to assist us to prevent this kind of conduct in the future.”
The players have issued apologies to CSA, their families, friends and teammates (see below).
The investigation involved many months of painstakingly gathering evidence and co-operating closely with the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit as a result of the international nature of match fixing activities.
The investigators have also engaged with the South African Police Services, the Hawks and independent forensic experts during the course of the investigation.
Commenting on the bans, CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said:
“It is our stated position that any form of corruption in the game will be dealt with severely. We will leave no stone unturned and we will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the game.
“Corruption is a very serious matter and for this reason we have devoted extensive time and resources to fully investigate every shred of evidence. We are still finalizing certain aspects of the investigation.
“Whilst there has been no evidence to suggest that an actual fix in any match was carried out, these players all participated in material discussions about match fixing.
“In fact, they all went further and accepted, or agreed to accept in the future, sums of money which they knew or ought to have known was given to them to partake in activity that would amount to a breach of the Code, or bring the game into disrepute.
“Our attitude towards any form of corruption is clear and hence why we have imposed such firm sanctions.”
The four players have accepted the bans which will come into effect on 1 August 2016.
Apologies from the Banned Cricket Players:
Commenting in response to the ban, Pumi Matshikwe said: “I would like to apologize to my family, friends, the public who are fans of the game of cricket, my team mates, Gauteng cricket, Lions cricket and especially to Cricket South Africa for my actions. I feel ashamed and I deeply regret being involved. I understand that I have to take responsibility and I accept the punishment that CSA has imposed on me. I am truly sorry.”
Ethy Mbalati endorsed Matshikwe’s comments: “I would like to extend my sincere apology to both Cricket South Africa as well as the public for my involvement in this. I made a bad decision which I will regret for a very long time. I would like to do all I can to prevent other players finding themselves in the difficult situation I now find myself in.”
Jean Symes likewise expressed his regret. “I deeply regret that at the end of my career, a career that I have devoted to the sport of cricket, my clubs, teams and fellow players, I have conducted myself in a manner that amounts to a contravention of the ethical code of conduct of Cricket South Africa. In hindsight, I would have conducted myself differently. I regret any hurt or inconvenience that I have caused my team, my fellow players, my family and friends and specifically Cricket South Africa,” said Symes.
The ban prevents the players from participating in, or being involved in any capacity in, any international or domestic match or any other kind of function, event or activity (other than authorized anti-corruption education or rehabilitation programmes) that is authorized, organized, sanctioned, recognized or supported in any way by CSA, the ICC, a National Cricket Federation or any member of a National Cricket Federation.
As certain final aspects of the investigation are still to be concluded, neither CSA nor the ICC will make any further comment in respect of the matter.
Source: Cricket South Africa (http://cricket.co.za/)