Johannesburg: South Africa`s sports minister on Friday named judge Chris Nicholson to lead an investigation into a bonus scandal that has tainted the country`s national cricket body for more than a year.
Nicholson, a high court judge in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, will head a committee to investigate allegations that Cricket South Africa (CSA) staff members received improper bonuses totalling 4.7 million rand (USD 596,000, 432,000 euros).
"The committee will meet every day for the next month. They will work day and night to conclude this particular matter. As I said before, I want this done by Christmas," Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said at a press conference.
"We are not interfering with anybody`s business and we are not disbanding anyone. We need to get to the bottom of this matter," he added. "We can`t leave this matter unattended to when so many people love cricket."
Nicholson is known for dismissing corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma in 2008, saying there had been political interference in the investigation against him.
The decision was a catalyst in forcing then-president Thabo Mbeki to resign, but the ruling was later overturned by a higher court, which said Nicholson had overstepped his authority.
The charges were ultimately dropped, clearing the way for Zuma`s rise to the presidency in 2009.
Two senior treasury officials will join Nicholson on the CSA probe.
Their investigation comes after CSA`s board fired president Mtutuzeli Nyoka for the second time this year for insisting the organisation take action on the bonus payments to chief executive Gerald Majola and other staff.
An independent audit by accounting firm KPMG said Majola secretly got four separate bonuses totalling more than four million rand for the hosting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in 2009.
But CSA`s board has consistently backed him over Nyoka despite the auditors` finding that Majola broke South Africa`s Companies Act on four occasions.
The feud between Majola and Nyoka, one-time friends and former teammates, has made CSA the target of public and media criticism and seen it struggle to find sponsors for two of the three major domestic competitions.
First Published: Friday, November 04, 2011, 21:18