In an unprecedented move in South African cricket, 20 players have been banned for three years each after being found to have been involved in racist abuse and violence.
In addition, two other players were┬ábanned for 10 years each after being found to have been the chief culprits in a violence-ridden match in Durban on November 27 this year.
The president of the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union, Dr Logan Naidoo, said the players belonged to two first division clubs in Durban -- Reservoir Hills Crimson and Crusaders.
Crimson are made up of players of Indian origin while the Crusaders players are mostly white. An investigation found that the Indian players had been subjected to racial abuse and one of them, Akesh Kisoonlal, was involved in a skirmish with one of the opposition players, Tim Dunk.
The Indian players are reported to have been told: "You coolies don't come into our area and take a chance, we will wipe you out."
Another comment was: "This guy is so black he should be playing for the African Warriors (a development team)."
Kisoonlal and Dunk were banned by the disciplinary committee for ten years each, five years of which were suspended provided they were found involved in another incident again.
"The disciplinary committee has taken a bold decision and the union members have done a sterling piece of work in this instance," said Dr Naidoo.
"It is an indication the union will not tolerate this type of behaviour and clubs will have to take full
responsibility for players. It is also a stern warning to all other clubs that transgressors will face a similar fate."
A Crimson official, Dilip Hariram, said they were shocked at the decision against them because their players had only reacted to racist remarks made against them.
"We have taken the findings very seriously. We have not heard of two clubs facing the same sentence. One is the transgressor, the other is the innocent party. We believe the union has not considered the issue of racism, which sparked off the problem," he said.