HELD ON: 07-06-2000


OPENING ADDRESS BY COMMISSIONER: Good morning. I would like to welcome you all to what has become known, for some or other reason, as the King Commission. I suppose if it had been held in England it would have been called a Royal Commission, but this is as close as we can get.

A particular welcome to two Ministers of the Cabinet who have graced us with their presence. They are the two concerned Ministers, the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Mr Ngconde Balfour and the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development, Dr Penuell Maduna. Additionally, we welcome the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Bulelani Ngcuka and also I believe they are here, to the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation of the National Assembly and the Standing Committee concerned with the same portfolio, of the National Council of the Provinces. The Commission, as you know, has been ordered by the President, Honourable Thabo Mbeki and certain terms of reference have been stipulated which govern the functioning of this Commission.

Very briefly, for those of you who may not be totally conversant with what this Commission is about, let me paraphrase for you the first three terms of reference which are those which require the Commission's immediate attention.

The first concerns the disclosures made by Mr Hansie Cronje, relating to a payment of some several thousand

American dollars which he admittedly received, I think I can say, earlier this year during the course of the triangular cricket tournament between South Africa, England and Zimbabwe.

The second subject is whether during the period 1 November 1999 to the 17th of April 2000, apart from what I had just mentioned, any member of the South African cricket team or team official, received or was promised payment of any amount of money or any other benefit in relation to his functions as a member of the South African cricket team or as a team official. Then following upon that, certain more specific avenues of enquiry.

The 1st of November of last year coincides with the commencement of the England tour to this country and the 17th of April is the date of the termination of the South African leg of the South Africa/Australia one day international series.

The third issue involves the question as to whether a proposal was made to the South African cricket team during its tour to India in 1996, that it forfeit or otherwise influence the result of a cricket match and thereupon, or thereafter, certain more detailed questions.

The Commission is under something of a time constraint in that in terms of the reference, I am required to produce an interim report by not later than the 30th of this month. May I say in that context that lest it be thought that the proceedings to date have been unduly delayed, that has not been the case. A very great amount of preliminary and preparatory work has been done, notably by the members of the Commission's staff.

The investigation is a continuing process, and it will in fact continue during the hearings of the Commission. Now, the sittings will be in public, unless in my discretion and if I consider it necessary or desirable, that any portion of the sitting, the evidence of any particular person, should be held in camera, in other words with the exclusion of all those other than the legal representatives, I am empowered in terms of the Commissions Act to make a direction accordingly. I do not see that as happening frequently, if at all. I shall certainly ensure that as far as possible, the proceedings will be held in public.

The language of record of the Commission, will be English, but if there is any witness who feels more at home in one other language, either an official language of the country or, although this is unlikely, a foreign language, that person or his legal representative should make that known to the Secretary of the Commission, Mr John Bacon, and arrangements will be made for an interpreter.

I think it is necessary that I should emphasise that this is not a court of law, more particularly it is not a criminal prosecution. It is a Commission of Inquiry with a two-fold purpose

- first of all to ascertain whether and to what extent there has been malpractice involving members or officials of our cricket team, our national side and,

- secondly, having made those factual findings, and insofar as may be necessary, to make suggestions and recommendations so as to ensure that there is not a repetition of whatever it is that has occurred, or any other form of malpractice.

The procedure will, despite the fact that I have made

it clear that this is not a court of law, will follow very much the lines of court proceedings. There will be examination of witnesses by their legal representatives and if a particular witness is not legally represented, that witness will be led by the Leader of Evidence, Adv Shamila Botohi from the Staff of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Durban.

Witnesses will be here under subpoena, that does not mean that they come reluctantly and in fact, I had earlier on when this Commission was announced, indicated that I would use the power of subpoena sparingly, but on reflection it occurred to me that for the sake of good order, all those whom the Commission would wish to hear in oral evidence, should be subpoenaed. So do not draw any wrong conclusions from the fact that that has occurred.

It does also mean that witnesses, persons who have been subpoenaed, are obliged to attend these proceedings, not all of them have to be here all the time, arrangements will be made with their legal representatives to ensure as far as possible, that they are little inconvenienced.

They have certain rights, certain privileges attached to the giving of testimony, I am not going to go through all of those, they would have been told that by their lawyers. I need to stress what one might describe as the negative aspect of giving evidence before this Commission, because in terms of Section 6 of the Commissions Act, 8 of 1947, again I paraphrase - anyone who refuses to be sworn or to make affirmation, to give evidence, or anyone who having been sworn or having made an affirmation, fails to answer fully and satisfactorily any question lawfully put to him, and I emphasise lawfully, or fails to produce any book, document or object in his possession or custody or under his control, which he has been summoned to produce, can be found guilty of an offence under the Commissions Act and liable to a fine or to imprisonment or to both. I don't see that happening, I don't see the necessity arising and I sincerely hope it won't, but it is as well to bear that in mind.

Now members of the public and I hope that by the public this will be taken further than beyond, and beyond the confines of this hall, who feel that they have anything relevant which they could usefully contribute to the Commission, are invited to make contact with Mr Bacon, who is as I have said, the Secretary to the Commission, on his cellular number, 082 9288 687. There is also a possibility of what I believe is known as a "hotline" being established in terms of which that sort of information can be conveyed, not desirably but if necessary, under the cover of anonymity. Details of that, if indeed the arrangement is made, will be furnished in due course.

Now there are a few no-no's - no smoking please in this hall, either during the sittings or at any other time; no cellular phones while the Commission is in session, either calls to be made or received; no TV cameras or still cameras to be used whilst the Commission is in sitting and no recording devices are to be used. This is all in the interest of the smooth operation of this Commission. Those are my decisions at this stage, they are open to amendment. If I can be persuaded that it will not be deleterious to the sitting of the Commission, that one or other of those particular injunctions should be altered or watered down.

Finally, may I say this, there appears from what I have been reading in the newspapers and hearing in the audio media, there appears to be a perception that this Commission should somehow or other be used or regarded as an instrument of revenge, a vehicle for some sort of witch-hunt. This is quite emphatically not so. I am going to be conducting an inquiry with the purpose as I have indicated of, in the first instance, ascertaining the truth. Any legitimate steps that may be taken which will assist in that objective, will carry my concurrence and my support.

Having said that, I am going to take what I trust will be a relatively short adjournment which will enable the gentlemen operating the TV cameras to pack them up and we will recommence as soon as we are ready. I anticipate it could take perhaps at the outside, half an hour.

The Commission will now adjourn.


Related Links:

Cricinfo's Coverage of Match-Fixing Allegations