Oh NRU, oh NRU where art thou?

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Keith Allies

It seems the prolonged Theo Coetzee, aka ‘Kwaakie’, saga will continue until such time NRU pronounces itself on this unfortunate incident that happened during the South African Provincial Gold Cup club rugby match between hosts Wanderers and the visiting Platinum Rhinos from South Africa.

Does the silence by the NRU simply mean they condone such despicable behaviour by a national team player?

It’s alleged that Coetzee, known in rugby circles as ‘Kwaaikie’ (meaning bad-tempered, angry, aggressive, fierce) called Patric Mulamba, a black athlete from Platinum Rhino Rugby Club, a “swart bobbejaan”- meaning “black baboon”.

I strongly believe this could be a true version of what has happened as nobody has denied the allegation as reported in some local newspapers.

Wanderers did the absolute right thing to slap the foul-mouthed ‘Kwaaikie’ with a two-year ban suspended for one year from all forms of rugby. This means he will only have to sit out one year which is the maximum suspension as per the World Rugby Sanctions Guidelines.

There might be those who think the matter is done and dusted and is now just a storm in a teacup that will just be forgotten as time goes by.

However, it must be noted that ‘Kwaaikie’ is yet to advance an apology to the nation, which I consider if he was remorseful would have been the right thing to do.
Maybe he believes it was the right thing to do to call a black opponent a “black baboon” (if he did utter those words). What made things worse, he even defined the colour of the baboon.

Wanderers has done the right thing by suspending the player whilst apologising publicly for his unbecoming behaviour. I’m damn sure the public appreciate this bold move by the White Stallions and that the latter should not be part of this ongoing saga.

‘Kwaaikie’ should also not be dragged into this debacle again. His silence has said it all. Realistically, I personally think there are people in whom these kinds of attitudes are entrenched and nothing whatsoever would change them.

No amount of educational and awareness programmes will change them. ‘So gemaak en so gelaat staan.’

The only unanswered questions to this unfortunate incident is what action the Swapo Youth League and the Namibia Sports Commission will take against the NRU as promised to the nation.

It must be noted that it was indeed Wanderers that took the courage to suspend the player and not the NRU. Does this now also mean that if a club suspends a player for an offence, NRU would subsequently deem it okay with no further sanctions to be imposed by the NRU? You have set a precedent NRU.

It was also reported by New Era Sport that local rugby pundits (whoever they are) felt that the one-year suspension imposed on ‘Kwaaikie’ by his club, Wanderers, is just a gentle rap on the knuckles considering the severity of the offence. Observers challenged NRU to impose a harsher sanction to deter future would-be offenders. The NRU if it considered the incident serious could have acted and imposed a much heavier sanction.

Now the only matter to this unfortunate incident is: the promised educational and awareness programme that will be implemented by Wanderers. Again, it is the duty of the NRU to implement such programmes, which are binding on all its affiliates.

Swapo Youth League and the Namibia Sports Commission must now prove to the nation that their bite is worse than their bark. Or am I barking up the wrong tree for action as promised?

That the same action must be taken by black clubs against their players and spectators for insulting white players by calling their mothers all kinds of filthy derogative names from under their dresses. These insults must be treated the same as Kwaaikie’s and with the same media coverage, and offenders to be named and shamed as in the case with Wanderers in addressing the racial behaviour of one of its subjects.

It’s also clear that NRU is offering offenders preferential treatment by protecting them at all cost. To put things in perspective: I was charged by NRU for soliciting sponsors for women’s rugby without its approval, “defacing the NRU logo”, awarding medals with the wording Premier League Womens Rugby engraved without the approval of the union.

Well, I pleaded guilty on all charges and was banned from rugby for two years, suspended for one year. My partner in crime Robbie Thompson pleaded not guilty but was given the same sentence. Even though I was the person who dealt with the above matter in consultation with the entire board of women’s rugby, the question still remains why the other members were not charged apart from Mr Thompson. Just wondering if a one-year suspension for racist remarks is the same for what I have done in the interest of the girls.

How serious was this racial discrimination matter actually? Allow me to refer to the ANC vs Penny Parrow case in South Africa. Payment of damages by Penny Parrow in the sum of R150 000 for calling black people monkeys. Also read in Mangope v Asmal & Others 1997 (4) SA 277 (T) 286J-A the view was expressed that if a black person is called a baboon, which is akin to monkey, when severely criticised the purpose is to indicate that the person is biased and of extremely low intelligence. Chow! I don’t rest my case.

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