The SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) yesterday condemned in the strongest terms allegations of racial abuse against a visiting South African athlete.
The nasty incident happened during the ill-fated South African provincial club rugby Gold Cup match between the hosts, FNB-sponsored Wanderers, and Northam Platinum Rhinos in Windhoek last Saturday.
At the centre of the storm are serious allegations of racial abuse unleashed against a dark-skinned player, Patrick Malumba, who formed part of visiting South African outfit Platinum Rhinos.
The bulky prop reacted angrily to a racial taunt when he was apparently branded a “swart bobbejaan” in Afrikaans (‘you black baboon’) by the sharp tongue of his opposite number, one Theo Coetzee, apparently also known as ‘Kwaaikie’ among his friends.
The altercation saw Malumba, Coetzee and his sidekick Ruhan Kristhof get involved in a serious scuffle, but since it was Malumba’s second caution in the game, the bulky prop’s further interest in the match was unfortunately summarily abbreviated.
In their statement issued yesterday, SPYL said: “It was with shock that we read… in New Era newspaper a story on the sports page with the heading, ‘Black Baboon slur leaves sting in the tail’ accompanied by the sub-headline ‘Wanderers victory taunted by accusations of racism’.
“SPYL, as representative organisation of the majority of progressive Namibian youth, deems the report of racism, as reported in New Era, very seriously.”
The statement issued by SPYL secretary for information, mobilisation and publicity Neville Andre Itope further says the allegations, which remain just that, deserve thorough investigation by both Wanderers Rugby Club and the Namibian Rugby Union and warrant appropriate action, if need be.
“As per article 3 (1) of the SPYL constitution, we, the leadership of SPYL, cannot remain silent when allegations of racism rear their ugly heads, more so at a time when the country as a whole is working hard to ensure social cohesion and progression. We need to take on racism, just as we equally combat other social evils in our society.”
Failure to publicly address the allegations by Wanderers and NRU would be a craven abdication of their moral and national duties, he alluded.
In conclusion, SPYL strongly urged the sports authorities to ensure that Namibian sport codes do not tolerate racism of any kind, adding that all forms of racism should be nipped in the bud once and for all.
Approached for comment on the issue and what the country’s sports governing body’s stance is, chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) Joel Matheus promised to respond, but never did. Despite numerous attempts to reach him afterwards, his mobile phone went unanswered.
Further attempts to solicit feedback from the club’s principal sponsor, FNB Namibia, proved equally futile, as several calls to one of the institution’s communications officers, Revonia Kahivere, drew nothing but blanks.