South Africa skipper Faf du Plesiss, who has been convicted of ball tampering twice, admits he harboured suspicions about how Australia gained so much early reverse-swing throughout the Test series.
Cricket Australia (CA) has slapped Steve Smith and David Warner with one-year bans, while Cameron Bancroft has been suspended for nine months for his role in the Cape Town cheating scandal.
Smith and CA, who conducted a formal investigation into Bancroft's scuffing of the ball with sandpaper, are confident it's a one-off instance of ball tampering.
Du Plesiss was repeatedly asked whether his side suspected Australia were tampering with the ball at other points in the ongoing Test series.
"I thought so, yes," du Plessis told reporters in Johannesburg.
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"This series the ball has been reversing quite a bit.
"We thought there was no way the ball can go so early.
"It's just unheard of for a South African series, with the ball to go this much."
Du Plessis nodded his head furiously in the Proteas' changerooms during the third Test when footage first emerged of Bancroft's misdeed.
"It's harsh for people to judge when they don't have evidence," he said, back-pedalling somewhat.
"I can sit here and say what I think - but without having real evidence of it, I think it is unfair.
"Whether it was really good skill in trying to bounce the ball in the right places to get it roughed up, or whether it was someone working the ball.
"We try to do the same. We try and get that ball to talk as much as possible, but I think we certainly don't walk around with sandpaper in our pocket."
Du Plessis only has the deepest of sympathy for Smith, who repeatedly broke down in front of cameras while apologising to the nation on Thursday.
Smith and du Plessis formed a bond with during their stint as Indian Premier League teammates.
In 2016, du Plessis thanked Smith for his support during 'mintgate' and sent the Australian star a message that noted "he gained a lot of respect from my team".
Now the tables have turned, with du Plessis suggesting Smith is being harshly treated in several senses.
"You don't want to see the guy going through that stuff ... he's one of the good guys and been caught in a bad place," du Plessis said.
"I did send him a text ... I sent him a message of support.
"He appreciated the message. There's a lot of respect between the two of us. He's a good leader for Australia.
"I feel for the guy ... I feel sorry for Steve. I have compassion for what he's going through."