‘Let justice be served though heavens should fall …’
On 19 October 2012, Advocate Karel Tip SC delivered his historic sanction in the matter between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and its CEO, Gerald Majola. It was a much-anticipated judgment.
Bernard Matheson, my attorney, had alerted me to its release. Matheson wasn’t just my lawyer, he was a great friend. His support and guidance had served me, at the worst of times, when very little else could. Much as this is my story, it is also his, since with his wisdom he lit the way for me in this journey from its beginning till the end.
I had known ‘Benny’, as I often referred to Matheson, since 2005 when my second stint as Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) chairman began. He had assisted me with a legal matter that my predecessor, the late Judge Mohamed Jajbhay, had left uncompleted. In 2009, he was employed, at Gerald Majola’s instigation, as CSA’s legal consultant.
Within moments of meeting him, I knew I was in the presence of a great spirit. He was humble, extremely eloquent, and possessed a penetrating intelligence. A bond of deep friendship quickly formed between us.
Before I met Matheson I was largely unfamiliar with legal procedure. With his massive presence in my corner, my life soon revolved around the law. I witnessed how an experienced lawyer builds a case.
I observed with interest his obsession with detail – how he fastidiously pored over facts, sifting what was material from what was not. I was fortunate to have Matheson on my side. The very vigour with which he threw himself at my case, to the exclusion of his own work, was flattering.
IN THE DISCIPLINARY ENQUIRY between: CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA (Employer), and GERALD MAJOLA (Employee)
On 17 October 2012 I delivered written findings on the charges that have been brought against Mr Majola. I found him guilty on all nine complaints.
It is now necessary for me to determine a fitting sanction having regard to those findings, the interests of CSA, the interests of Mr Majola (to the extent that I am able to, given that he withdrew from these proceedings on 10 October 2012), as well as the relevant legal principles.
As I listened to the Karel Tip findings, I felt numb inside. There was very little to celebrate. From the beginning, Gerald Majola’s leadership carried the seeds of its own demise. He seemed to have too many accounts to settle. I doubt he fully understood the seriousness and complexity of the issues at hand.
I believe he regarded his appointment as CSA’s CEO as his right, rather than a privilege. Once power went to his head, the writing was on the wall. That the Indian Premier League (IPL) saga had been allowed to drag on for so long, and sunk the reputation of the game so low, had been a tragedy.
I also found it anomalous that the CSA board had instituted (in May 2012) disciplinary proceedings against their CEO, since in my opinion they had in the most disreputable manner tried to smother the allegations of corruption against him.
In defending and gratifying their belligerent CEO, some of the directors had become confederates in his misconduct. I believed then, as I do now, that it was not just Majola who should have been on the dock, but also some of the CSA directors.
These were the final conclusions of Advocate Karel Tip:
While acting as CEO for CSA and in the context of a contract that he had concluded on behalf of CSA, Mr Majola negotiated large bonuses for himself and Don McIntosh, as well as lesser bonuses for the CSA staff. In so doing, he wittingly placed himself in a situation that constituted a manifest conflict of interest. To satisfy his fiduciary duties, it was required of him that he should first have obtained the authority of the CSA board to negotiate these bonuses and for them to be retained by himself and the other beneficiaries.
A HILL OF FOOLS
‘Ah, Doma, Doma,’ the old man muttered repeatedly to himself. ‘That ghost of Doma, the country of my youth, once mighty and prosperous and now prostrate and dead. I do not know if I want to go back there, neither in words nor in thought. They tell me that the name has now been changed, but that will surely not erase the memory of what happened there.
‘I must take you back to the land of riches and poverty, and of vice and virtue. For Doma always existed in these two forms, or rather like two dogs, one vicious and the other loving. You never knew at any one time which of these two sides you’d come across.’
I stood mystified as I looked at the old and feeble man. As he started to talk I had no idea just how enthralled I would be by his sad and romantic story. It was obvious he was dying. He lay on a grass mat inside a stone house. It was very dark inside. The only light came from a coal fire that crackled and glimmered in the gloom.
The room was hot and stuffy – in fact it was an inferno. From the glow of the fire I could see his wrinkled features, his papery brown skin and his long and curly white hair and beard. He was a tall man, with broad shoulders, and a wide boxy and hairy chest. His brawny arms were to his side.
My eyes were drawn to the heavy bronze bracelet around his right wrist. Was this a sign of rank or station? Was this a symbol of a former life of privilege and grandeur? Had he been a soldier, or was I in the presence of royalty?
His breathing was laboured, his face sweating and his brown eyes half closed. He was old and ailing, and looked like a crumbling and dilapidated ruin. Next to the large and heavy wooden door lay an old dog.
It was a black mongrel, indifferent, indolent and drowsy; another ruin that, like its master, was slowly crawling to its grave. The sickly smell of homemade brew filled the air. I stood next to the door, staring at him in that decrepit condition with undisguised dismay.
‘You must please sit down and listen. It has been a while since I had a visitor. My own infirmities have prevented me from travelling to see friends and loved ones.’ He stopped for a while and looked at me, and then continued: ‘I have prayed that I could see you again before I go. You have no idea what your visit means to me. I got word of your marriage, and pray the gods will bless your union. I have always thought of you. Your memory always brought a fresh fragrance to the smell of my decaying life.’
The manner in which these words were spoken was so gentle and in a voice so refined. They had the most powerful effect on me.
I sat down, as if in a trance, and listened transfixed. The words that came out of the old man’s mouth reverberate in my soul to this day. When they were spoken, there was nothing I could do but listen.
I had grown up in a home of storytellers. This was the main form of my education. Traditions, history and customs had been passed on to me in this fashion. I had listened to the many tales, which were mostly riveting embellishments of the past. I had listened to both sober and drunken versions of truth.
There were obviously some alterations to these stories, errors often deliberately made. Lives were transformed, societies deftly altered, and the story modified with each passing year.
Kindness was shown to some characters, while others were sullied. Faces were beautified and others defaced and mocked. The storytellers of my people were like artists: they were continually chipping off bits here and adding others there.
The man lying on the ground now was probably no different from the rest. Could there possibly be any resemblance between his story and real events?
But I had always enjoyed a good story. With each tale my life seemed to change, and people whom I had never met and places I had not visited before became a part of my existence. With each fable and legend, the mystery of my life seemed to gradually untangle. Also, my imagination had grown, and later began to wander from the dusty and narrow vista of my youth into the kingdoms I heard about through stories. But I don’t remember being quite as intrigued as I now was by the words of this old man called Anday.
In his unique fashion, Anday made every word he uttered meaningful and every character unforgettable. The land and the people he spoke about were more real, and more luminous, than the house around us. What followed was more than just a story, but a full testament of my origins, and the life of the old man.
Extract courtesy of Picador Africa.
I SPEAK TO THE SILENT
On a rainy day in my fifth year in prison, I received a note from a Mr John Smith. He wanted to meet with me. I could see the ocean, dark and brooding. The waves undulated as if excited by the falling rain and the clouds hung low and menacing. I was deep in thought, my mind swirling with sad memories. I had received similar requests before. At first they would send a sudden gust, a ripple of excitement, through my body. Later, they became a source of annoyance and irritation.
A young coloured warder brought the note to me. He was very polite. He must have been new. Politeness was rare in prison. The warders mostly believed that to handle animals effectively you must be one yourself. I was consequently terrified of them. Their moods ranged from indifferent to callous, and their behaviour, from strange to downright wicked. The prison jungle that was our home could pollute the mind and soul of even the most decent human being. Some of the warders enjoyed using their batons.
Indeed, much of their authority lay in their willingness to use these weapons. Sometimes they used other prisoners, the most violent, to do their dirty work. The collusion between the prisoners and officials made prison life not only unsafe but also unpredictable.
‘This is yours, meneer,’ the young warder said demurely, as he handed me the neat blue envelope. Like all the mail we prisoners received, it had been opened. Even though my long stay in prison had earned me certain privileges, privacy was not one of them. I read the letter from John Smith with absolute indifference. I did not realise that it marked the beginning of one of the most intimate relationships of my life.
Perhaps, I thought, it was from one of those lazy reporters looking to rehash an old story for tomorrow’s headline. Or was it a student from the university, seeking to impress his professor with an assignment teeming with ghoulish details? Or some idiot simply curious to know what I looked like?
Prisoners have a lot of time on their hands. Often, they welcome visits, even from fools, just to break the monotony. However, I was fortunate and had received many visitors during my prison stay. I was, after all, the famous prisoner – or rather, the infamous murderer of Raymond Mbete; ‘Comrade Ray’, as many called him.
Comrade Ray had been strangled to death. Someone strong – and I am strong – had put his hands around Mbete’s scrawny neck, firmly and long enough to squeeze the life from it. When the police arrived, they found him dead with his face submerged in his own vomit. Like most people who die in this fashion his pants were urine-soaked and soiled.
A fitting finale for a monster. A man as devoid of scruples as of morals.
Mbete was, however, the people’s hero. Blind idolatry was the curse of my people.
I remember the day of the judgement. It was a hot summer day. Not that this meant anything to me, because it was the day on which my fate was decided. I had slept poorly for several days and felt tired, almost indifferent to the scene around me. There was not a single empty seat inside the courtroom, the crowd a mixture of political activists with slogans branded on their shirts, and the merely curious. People even sat on the floor. The heat inside the courtroom was intense, though all the windows were open.
Outside was a surging, chanting mass of humanity, angry and animated in their quest for justice – or was it lust for blood?
‘Intambo – the noose!’ The call rang out repeatedly.
My people were begging for my blood, in a manner similar to the Roman crowds in the Colosseum of old. They were begging Caesar to raise his hand and give the signal for my execution. Caesar, in my case, was the Judge Boschoff. He passed the sentence without sympathy.
‘You have been tried before this court and found guilty of premeditated murder. You have been charged and convicted of the cold-blooded murder of an innocent man, a father as well as a husband. What goes on in the hearts and minds of men like you, I cannot divine. You are a viper in human clothing. Your vile deeds are a black stain on our community. I therefore sentence you to spend the rest of your life in prison.’
Extract courtesy of UKZN Press
“I hope you have enjoyed reading these extracts from my books. If you would like to buy a copy of Deliberate Concealment, A Hill of Fools or I Speak to the Silent, click HERE to go to my ‘Buy – Books’ page for a few suggestions of where you can purchase it in bricks-and-mortar bookshops.” MTUTUZELI NYOKA