Altaaf Kazi (second left) expressed remorse for his grub act the last time Australia toured South Africa.
Altaaf Kazi (second left) expressed remorse for his grub act the last time Australia toured South Africa.

Shamed official in SBW mask scandal now SA tourism chief

A man who brought shame and embarrassment upon South African cricket two years ago with the infamous Sonny Bill Williams mask scandal is now selling the virtues of South Africa to the world.

Former Cricket official Altaaf Kazi, who expressed regret at being photographed posing with fans wearing masks designed to insult David Warner during the 2018 tour, is now working as the GM of Communications for SA Tourism.

 

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The Daily Telegraph can reveal Kazi was back to watch Warner's return to Africa over the weekend as a fan - respectfully turning up at The Wanderers on Johannesburg on Saturday morning.

 

Altaaf Kazi (second left) expressed remorse for his grub act the last time Australia toured South Africa.
Altaaf Kazi (second left) expressed remorse for his grub act the last time Australia toured South Africa.

 

There was no hint of any masks, and his decision to attend Warner's comeback is symbolic of a thawing out in relations between the two cricket rivals and of an apparent desire to move on from those unsavoury times that were such a blight on the game.

St George's Park in Port Elizabeth, the ground where the SBW masks were brought in two years ago, hosts Australia's second Twenty20 on Sunday night - with ground staff telling The Daily Telegraph that security would be vigilant on removing SBW masks and stamping out offensive behaviour in the unlikely event it rears its head again.

Kazi was remorseful in the wake of his part in the ugly incident - admitting at the time it was "one of the worst judgment calls I have made", before he ultimately resigned from CSA.

 

David Warner and Steve Smith are back in the country for the first time since the ball-tampering affair.
David Warner and Steve Smith are back in the country for the first time since the ball-tampering affair.

 

Cricket South Africa's connection to the mask furore which disgracefully attacked Warner over his wife Candice, caused tensions to explode between Australia and South Africa, and fed directly into the Sandpapergate scandal that was to follow a week later.

The Daily Telegraph has been told that Cricket Australia chairman at the time David Peever threatened to suspend the tour before the Cape Town Test, if South Africa didn't sack Kazi, and the other official who posed in the photo with mask-wearing fans - Clive Eksteen.

The pair were promptly stood down.

Kazi declined to comment when contacted by The Daily Telegraph on Sunday, but it's understood his resignation from CSA was driven by political agendas within the organisation rather than as a direct fallout from the mask photo.

 

Crowds have been surprisingly respectful to Australia and Warner so far on the current tour.
Crowds have been surprisingly respectful to Australia and Warner so far on the current tour.

 

After inadvertently making Australian cricketers feel South Africa was the most hostile place on earth, he is now promoting the country's charms as one of the world's tourism treasures.

Eksteen is still involved in a protracted legal battle with CSA over trumped up charges of another kind, and also declined to comment when contacted.

Australia were blown away by the respectfulness of the South African crowd for Warner and Smith's return to action at Johannesburg on Saturday morning.

South African network Supersport - central to the candid camera sting of Cameron Bancroft during the sandpaper Test - flirted with the idea of revisiting the incident with a TV special during this series.

 

The personal nature of the abuse levelled at the Warners in 2018 contributed to a toxic atmosphere.
The personal nature of the abuse levelled at the Warners in 2018 contributed to a toxic atmosphere.

 

However, it never got off the tarmac because South African commentators and players canned the idea, adamant it was time to move on.

"So far in South Africa it's been a fantastic experience," said Australian vice-captain, Alex Carey.

"For myself, it's my first time over here playing cricket and the crowd was really respectful (in Johannesburg).

"The South African players were respectful, and there's been nothing to suggest otherwise moving forward.

"It felt like another game of cricket out there and two teams going at it, but the crowd I thought really respectful.

"I haven't see anything different from (Smith and Warner). They're fantastic cricketers, fantastic blokes as well."



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