Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS
Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS

The jostling for the Cricket SA board positions took a nasty turn at the weekend as members turned on each other after Border Cricket president Simphiwe Ndzundzu accused his Gauteng counterpart, Anne Vilas, of racism.

Ndzundzu made it to the final list of nominees to serve as a non-executive director on the board at the organisation’s annual general meeting (AGM) to elect a new chair‚ president and directors on Saturday.

But reports soon emerged that the Border Cricket boss had been accused of gender-based violence that left one woman with a broken arm. A knobkerrie-wielding Ndzundzu allegedly attacked a colleague at his home and assaulted the colleague’s elderly mother‚ leaving his sister with a broken arm‚ according to the reports.

Vilas‚ the newly elected president of the Central Gauteng Lions (CGL)‚ reacted to the reports of the gender-based violence levelled against Ndzundzu.

She wrote to the Cricket SA board‚ acting CEO Kugandrie Govender‚ company secretary Welsh Gwaza and members council highlighting her concerns with the allegations against Ndzundzu.

“I am concerned that the press are reporting that one of the members up for an election as a non-independent director [Simphiwe Ndzundzu] at the AGM is facing an investigation for assault‚ after allegedly breaking into the home of and assaulting another Border official and his family members‚” Vilas wrote.

“I am quite surprised that nobody has‚ in the circumstances‚ raised the eligibility of him to stand for elections at a time when Cricket SA publicly professes its support for the anti-violence campaign against women.”

Vilas said on Monday that she has “no comment at this stage” and committed to responding through another letter on Tuesday.

Ndzundzu hit back with a letter of his own dismissing the allegations against him as “gossip and rubbish” while also placing a racecard on the table.

“Part of what we should be careful of as we journey together is character assassination through gossip and unvalidated reports.

“Cricket SA is an international organisation that cannot afford to entertain such unsubstantiated reports‚” said Ndzundzu.

“Election time is always critical for any organisation and Cricket SA is not immune to that‚ so matters of this nature will always come up. If I was Anne Villas I would have asked the obvious question as to ‘why now?’

“We were not surprised ... as that’s the mandate of such people to put every black man’s name in dirt.”

Ndzundzu said Vilas could have made contact with him privately instead of writing to the board and management. He admitted on Monday that there was a “scuffle” and a woman was involved but said he has not been charged though a case was opened against him.

“I can say without any reservations that the reports (of gender-based violence against me) are uttermost rubbish, hence I have not wasted my energy to respond to those.”

Ndzundzu said he deserves the courtesy of being presumed innocent until proved guilty and accused Vilas of double standards and racial bias.

“There are two principles in law that are key, Anne and CGL‚ audi alteram partem and everyone is innocent until proven guilty. These principles should be applied against everyone and the skin colour of that person should not be the deciding factor.”

Ndzundzu questioned why the Gauteng cricket boss has never written to denounce the widespread allegations of racism and discrimination from past and current players.

“You now want to act as a heroine on this matter‚ double standards don’t work Anne.”

Ndzundzu ended his letter by quoting American poet‚ memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelo.

“It can’t be that everything that’s right is white, and we have an obligation as a collective to change that perception that is being planted by the media and people like Anne Villas.

“I am reminded of Maya Angelou when she says ‘You may write me down in history‚ with your bitter‚ twisted lies‚ you may trod me in the very dirt but still‚ like dust‚ I’ll rise.’”

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