David Becker tells SJN he feels sorry for players banned in match fixing saga

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David Becker tells SJN he feels sorry for players banned in match fixing saga
© Provided by Independent Online (IOL)

Johannesburg – Ex-ICC legal head David Becker told the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings that he felt sorry for the hardships the players banned for their role in the match fixing saga five years ago have endured, but that those players had to take responsibility for their actions.

In lengthy testimony that started on Wednesday and concluded on Thursday, Becker outlined how the four players who’d testified at the SJN about the match fixing investigation had lied and called on the Transformation Ombudsman, Adv Dumisa Ntsebeza, to deem their allegations as unfounded.

Becker had taken Ntsebeza and his assistants through the process of the investigation step by step, in an attempt to prove that the players’ assertion that they were targeted because of their race, was false.

ALSO READ: Advocate Ntsebeza ’uncomfortable’ with match fixing saga being raised at SJN Hearings

On Wednesday, in his testimony about Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was banned for eight years for his role in the scandal, Becker highlighted numerous instances in which Tsotsobe lied while under oath.

During his testimony in July, Tsotsobe also broke down crying, saying that the outcome of the investigation had caused reputational harm and loss of income.

“I am sincerely sorry that Mr Tsotsobe and his colleagues have had to endure the hardships of these bans. This would not have been easy, I can accept that,” said Becker.

ALSO READ: SJN Hearings: Black players implicated in match-fixing were set up by ’intermediary’ Gulam Bodi

“It was reputational damage that Mr Tsotsobe did to himself, it wasn’t Cricket SA that did that reputational damage to him. He seems to blame everybody else but himself unfortunately, even making insinuations against his own lawyers, suggesting indirectly that they didn’t do a proper job.”

Becker and Louis Cole, the head of Cricket SA’s Anti-Corruption unit, who conducted the investigation, were stopped by Ntsebeza and his assistant Sandile July, on a few occasions, questioning the relevance of their testimony regarding the match fixing. Ntsebeza highlighted concerns about how the testimony related to the SJN’s Terms of Reference.

“I’ve given a very detailed affidavit and just as we were meticulous, thorough and integrous in our investigation, we have been meticulous, thorough and integrous in responding to these allegations,” Becker said near the end of his testimony.

ALSO READ: Match-fixing probe was not racist, CSA’s anti-corruption head tells SJN Hearings

Becker explained that it was “very unfortunate,” that the investigation which was praised by the ICC for its processes and outcome, was “tarnished, due to the opportunistic claims of a few people. I find that very disappointing.”

Becker pointed to reconciliation in the context of the match fixing saga, saying it is my “sincere hope that these four individuals (Tsotsobe, Alviro Petersen, Ethy Mbhalati and Thami Tsolekile) would take a leaf out of Pumelela Matshikwe’s book.”

Matshikwe was banned for 10 years, three of which were suspended, for his role, with Becker stating on Wednesday that initially, Matshikwe hadn’t been honest with investigators and that he made serious mistakes. “But he put up his hand, came clean, he was sincere, remorseful, genuine, authentic, he didn’t make false allegations of coercion and threats, five years later.”

ALSO READ: SJN Hearings: Parts of Ethy Mbhalati’s match-fixing testimony not true, says lawyer

“He has redeemed himself. He’s gotten involved in education (about match fixing). He’s restored his reputation somewhat. I admire him for doing that. I implore you, to speak to these individuals and refer them to Pumi Matshikwe, so they might redeem themselves and restore their reputations.”

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