Two under-13 team players withdrawn after claims of birth-certificate tampering
Two Motherwell cricket coaches have been implicated in a scandal involving the alteration of birth certificates so that older children qualified for a younger age group in the provincial team.
Although the investigation is centred on two players, The Herald is aware of at least three – two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old – whose birth certificates were allegedly tampered with.
EP Cricket Amateur manager Tono Mle said Motherwell Cricket Club coaches Sizakele Ngam and Sakhumzi Siyo had both been accused of involvement in the tampering, resulting in the investigation and an impending disciplinary action.
“EP Cricket came to learn of these alleged activities when the EP Youth Cricket Board requested that it assist in the investigation,” Mle said.
“The investigation has been concluded and now proceeds to the disciplinary hearing, which will take place on [Thursday].”
According to Mle, two players have been withdrawn from the EP under-13 team due to altered birth certificates, since the allegations came to light.
“EP Youth Cricket have given EP Cricket two cricketers to investigate,” he said.
However, three Motherwell families have told how their sons have suffered as a result of the alleged fraud.
When a reporter visited the area, the three boys were playing cricket in the street and appeared gutted by the claims.
The father of one 14-year-old was angered that his son’s dreams – and possibly his future – had been destroyed.
“My son was very excited about being selected by EP Cricket and going on tour, but when the news broke that their birth certificates were forged, it really hit him hard,” the man, 52, said.
“I was shocked when he told me what had happened.
“But what angered me even more was that these coaches [allegedly] told him to take the blame for this if anyone asked – which implies that at his age he is already committing fraud.
“That is not how I raised my boys and my worry is the stigma that is going to follow him now going forward.”
The father, who receives a disability grant, said his son’s selection would have created many opportunities for the teenager.
“These coaches made so many promises to me after the capping ceremony in October, but of late they have been very quiet – until we found out what actually happened.
“It is very disappointing and what they [coaches] fail to understand is that you are killing a South African child’s dream.”
He said that before attending the capping ceremony at St George’s Park, his son had gone around asking children in the neighbourhood for a primary school uniform, on the alleged instruction of the coaches.
“I noticed on the day that he wore a primary school uniform and [when] I questioned this, he told me the coach told him to wear it,” the upset man said.
“I initially thought it was fishy, but I was so overwhelmed by my child’s successes that I ignored it.
“Looking back, I should have said something – now I am very disappointed in myself.”
An aunt of the other 14-yearold said the family was disappointed in the coaches.
“Our children love cricket and they are good at it,” she said.
“I am not OK with this because I believe it could have given him [her nephew] a better future.
“I am upset that the coaches have not been here to tell us what happened. “They have wronged our children and now they are just quiet about it.”
The mother of the 15-year-old said her son’s school had notified her that the documents they had received stated that her son was born in 2004, but his year of birth on his original birth certificate was 2002.
“My son played for EP Cricket last year as well and we constantly saw the coaches, but this year, nothing,” she said.
“I didn’t know what was going on until the school alerted me.
“This is such a bad situation for my son because it would have meant a lot for him, and he is doing so well at school-level cricket.
“They [the coaches] must answer for what they have done and the damage they have caused our children.” Motherwell Cricket Club assistant coach Siyo denied the allegations and said he was shocked when he heard the birth certificates were falsified. “I don’t know anything,” Siyo said. “They [boys] gave their birth certificates and we handed them over to EP Cricket.
“I was shocked when we were told about it as well, because we had no part in it. “We didn’t tell them they must take responsibility because they told us they were younger than they are.”
Motherwell Cricket Club head coach Ngam said he had also been notified by EP Cricket about the forged birth certificates, but insisted he had had no part in it.
“I have heard about this but I am still waiting for further feedback from EP Cricket and I am not sure when that will be.
“I was not involved in anything and I don’t know where this could have come from.”
Motherwell Cricket Club president Dumaphi Nomoyi said he was disappointed by the alleged shenanigans and that neither of the coaches had been suspended pending the outcome of the hearing.
“These coaches do not report to us, they report to EP Cricket,” he said.
“We are working hard to promote the standard of cricket in Motherwell, but this is a very bad thing and it worries us.”
Mle confirmed that EP Cricket was responsible for paying the coaches’ salaries.
Cricket SA (CSA) Hubs coordinator David Mokopanele said the organisation was aware of the investigation, but referred queries to Mle.
He also did not want to comment on whether CSA would have to review the EP under-13 team’s victory at last year’s national tournament.
However, EP Cricket’s Malcolm Roberts said the victory would not be affected as a different under-13 team had taken part in the tournament.
The motive for the alleged tampering is still unclear.
Mle said there were no incentives offered for coaches to deliver a certain number of provincial players.
“There is no specific criteria [in terms of numbers]. However, there is an expectation that coaches must produce cricketers,” he said.