Johannesburg: A close friend of Gerald Majola has lashed out at the Nicholson inquiry, which has called for the embattled Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief to be suspended and criminally investigated for breaching his fiduciary duties.
Dennis Cruywagen, who calls himself a close associate of Majola, said in a statement that the CSA chief suspected "he was a victim of a hatchet job".
"Majola has been hurt and angered by judge Nicholson`s imputation that there had been criminal intent on his part. Judge Nicholson gave no evidence to back this up," Cruywagen said.
The statement challenged the impartiality of retired judge Chris Nicholson who chaired an inquiry instituted by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula after nearly two years of wrangling inside CSA over huge IPL 2 bonuses, which Majola paid himself and other senior CSA staff.
IPL 2 was played in South Africa due to security concerns around elections at the time in India.
Nicholson`s report last Friday called for Majola to be suspended and disciplined and asked the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to investigate possible criminal charges related to his breaches of the Companies Act.
"(Majola`s) legal adviser (Max Boqwana) has already picked up some inconsistencies in the report," Cruywagen said, adding that Nicholson had relied on the views of witnesses who had long since left cricket administration, some of whom were prejudiced against Majola.
Cruywagen claimed that Nicholson had ignored submissions by Majola and the CSA "because he had seemingly made up his mind that Majola was guilty" (and) also ignored all CSA`s submissions."
A number of current and past board members of CSA testified for and against Majola at the inquiry, the most damning of which was from current chair of the legal and compliance committee, Ajay Sooklal, who said there was no corporate governance at CSA.
Majola himself testified tearfully that he was naive about his fiduciary duties and had merely failed to inform the board in writing about the IPL bonuses.
But internationally recognised corporate governance expert Mervyn King testified that he had led the CSA board through a workshop on corporate governance at which Majola was present ahead of the IPL.
As the CSA board prepared for a meeting on Saturday during which the majority of provincial franchise presidents are expected to call for Majola`s head, Cruywagen said Majola would ask for a three-month leave of absence at a CSA committee meeting next Wednesday so that he could "prepare himself to defend his integrity, reputation, and career."
Cruywagen said Majola could not be disciplined again by CSA, which had acquitted the latter at an earlier internal inquiry.
"To be fair to Majola it`s conceivable that the CSA board must disband and a new one elected if Majola is to be assured of a fair hearing.”
How can the same people who`d acquitted him now be expected to try him again? This is illogical," Cruywagen said.