The two pilots who also perished in the crash failed to follow procedures for a "missed landing approach", Cape Town high court judge Siraj Desai said Monday at the conclusion of an inquest into the crash.
"The complacency of the pilot in command was surprising and ... the co-pilot failed under the circumstances to do what a reasonable pilot would have done," Desai said.
"It is the court's view that the death of the deceased Wessel Johannes (Hansie) Cronje was brought about by an act or omission prima facie amounting to an offence on the part of pilots (Willie Meyer, 69, and Ian Noakes, 50)."
Cronje, a former national cricket captain and sporting ambassador, died at the age of 32 when a light plane in which he was travelling crashed into mountains near the coastal town of George in bad weather on June 1 2002.
An earlier inquiry by South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority said the crash was the result of pilot error, bad weather and technical defects in the Hawker Siddeley 748.
At the time of his death, Cronje was facing possible criminal charges after having confessed before a commission of inquiry to accepting money from bookmakers and gamblers during his tenure as skipper.
The inquiry, chaired by a judge, heard that he had offered money to two team mates, Henry Williams and Herschelle Gibbs, to under-perform in one-day international tests.
Cronje consistently denied having fixed any matches, and apologised for the hurt he caused, but was banned for life from playing or coaching.
Widely admired as a clean-living and wholesome sportsman, Cronje was widely reviled for his self-confessed greed.
But at his funeral two years later mourners described him as a kind and virtuous man who had erred.
"Although he made a mistake, he was still the same old Hansie. A kind, loving husband, an honourable man and a genuine friend," his widow Bertha said at the time.
Cronje was a member of the South African cricket squad from 1992 to 2000 and captained the team for the last six years of that period. He played in 68 test matches, 53 as skipper.
He led his country to victory in 71 percent of the one-day internationals he captained and 51 percent of test matches.