SA court upholds Cronje~~s life ban

Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2001, 22:20 [IST]
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Pretoria: Former South African captain Hansie Cronje's appeal against a life ban for his involvement in match-fixing was turned down by the High Court on Wednesday, but he was cleared to pursue a career in coaching and the media.The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) banned Cronje for life last November after admitting before a commission of inquiry that he accepted some $ 100,000 from bookmakers and offered other players money to under-perform. Judge Frank Kirk-Cohen upheld the Cronje ban but ruled that the UCBSA was not allowed to prevent Cronje from coaching, sponsoring or promoting cricket at schools not affiliated to it. He also prohibited the Board from preventing Cronje from securing employment anywhere except for the Board itself or its affiliates. The judge ruled that the ban applied to the press box and broadcasting facilities at cricket grounds. Cronje may, however, apply for accreditation to use these facilities and the UCBSA would have to consider it. The judge ordered Cronje to pay half the UCBSA's legal costs for the case, which began on September 26. Cronje was not present at the court and his lawyer Malcolm Wallis declined to comment on the judgment. UCBSA deputy president Robbie Kurz said, "South African cricket now wants to put this firmly behind us, hopefully, and go forward. "We've got a busy season ahead of us - a World Cup around the corner. We want to expend all our energies on positive issues in South African cricket," Kurz said, speaking outside the court. Cronje had appealed against the ban on the grounds it was unconstitutional. But Advocate Wim Trengrove argued, on behalf of the UCBSA, that the ban was not unconstitutional because it was based on the fact that he was a cheat and not on reasons of race, sexual orientation or gender. Cronje's lawyer Malcolm Wallis told the court all his client wanted to do was make a living, referring to Cronje's ambitions to coach cricket or work as a commentator or columnist, but UCBSA ban prevented him from doing so. Wallis said the UCBSA aimed to influence anybody in cricket not to have anything to do with Cronje, quoting UCBSA president Percy Sonn as saying, "If the UCBSA had its way, it would not even allow Cronje to play beach cricket." Trengove replied at the time that the ban did not preclude Cronje from being employed by a third party, and that there was no evidence that the UCB was trying to do so. International Cricket Council (ICC) president Malcolm Gray declared last week at Lord's that even if Cronje succeeded in lifting his ban that would not be the end of the matter as far as world cricket was concerned. "Our point of view is that a life ban means 20 years. Any change to that would have to be ratified by our code of conduct commission," Gray explained.

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