"We forgive him because he said sorry," du Plessis said on Thursday ahead of third ODI in Centurion. "He has apologised and taken responsibility for it. It is out of our hands and ICC will have to deal with it now."
Sarfraz was caught on the stump mic making a seemingly racist comment towards Phehlukwayo. The incident happened in the 37th over of South African innings in the second ODI at Kingsmead. Phehlukwayo inside-edged the third delivery of the over to deep fine leg for a single. As he ran off to the non-striker's end, Sarfraz was heard on the stump mics saying: "Abey
This literally translates to: "Hey black guy, where's your mom sitting today? What prayer did you ask her to say for you today?"
Immediately after Sarfraz' comment, commentator Mike Haysman asked Ramiz Raja: "What's he saying there, Ramiz?"
"Difficult really to translate that," Ramiz replied. "It's a big long sentence."
In the post-match presentation, Phehlukwayo, the player of the match, seemed relaxed about having been the target of several comments by Pakistan players. "It was good chat," he said.
Following the uproar on social media, Sarfraz issued an apology on Twitter, claiming his words “were not directed towards anyone in particular and he certainly had no intention of upsetting anyone”.
The ICC has reportedly received a report from match referee Ranjan Madugalle and is currently considering the matter.
"When you come to South Africa, you have to be very careful when you make racial comments," du Plessis said. "I am sure he didn't mean it like that but he has taken responsibility and we will have to see what the outcome of that is going to be. This is not something that we take lightly as a team, but the fact that he apologised straight away means there is regret on his part. We can forgive but that doesn't mean we brush it under the table."
Phehlukwayo has made no comment on the incident, and du Plessis suggested that he had not noticed the comment at the time - the language barrier meaning Phehlukwayo did not understand what was said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board has regretted the incident in a statement issued late Wednesday following Sarfraz’ apology.
“The PCB expresses regret over the remark made by their captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and picked up by the stump mic during the second ODI against South Africa in Durban," read the statement.
"The PCB neither endorses nor supports any comments that have the potential to cause offence, and firmly reiterates their zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments made; in whatever context.”
The statement further read that the Board is confident that the incident will not have any negative effect on the series.
“The PCB is confident that this incident will not affect the series, which has been played in great spirit with some excellent performances from both sides.”