Sports minister Mthethwa would back creation of platform to investigate racial discrimination in rugby

29 July 2021 - 13:36 By mahlatse mphahlele
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Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The department of sport would back the creation of a platform to investigate racial discrimination in rugby similar to the transformation hearings that have held the nation spellbound as bombshells continued to be revealed in cricket in the past few weeks.

The nation has sat on the edge of their seats as Cricket SA’s (CSA) Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings‚ led by respected Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and established to investigate racial discrimination in the sport‚ heard horrific stories of the past and present from players and officials.

Some of the black cricketers who have shared stories of discrimination and racism in the game under oath at the SJN hearings include Paul Adams‚ Roger Telemachus‚ Aaron Phangiso and Thami Tsolekile.

Asked by TimesLIVE if rugby should follow suit and openly address long-standing allegations of discrimination and racism in the sport‚ the department of sport said they would support such a process.

“If SA Rugby‚ like CSA‚ initiates a similar process‚ the minister (Nathi Mthethwa) would support it‚” a written response from the department on behalf of Mthethwa read.

TimesLIVE asked SA Rugby if they would be willing to start a similar process and invite former players to come forward and share stories of discrimination‚ but the response was very short.

“We’ll not be making any comment”‚ was the curt response from their spokesperson.

The department of sport said Mthethwa supports the ongoing SJN hearings and understands the general feeling in the public that rugby must follow the same route taken by cricket.

“The SJN hearings were initiated by the previous CSA board and the minister (Mthethwa) supports that decision. General feelings are usually not enough of a basis for sport decision-making.

“The minister hopes that actionable‚ sustainable and time-bound solutions will follow the ventilation of the problems.”

Mthethwa said he was satisfied on the progress of transformation‚ mainly in cricket and rugby‚ even though there is still a long way to go in reaching the targets.

“The road is long but we are making progress‚ furthermore‚ transformation in sport will be influenced by transformation within society. The minister established the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) specifically to monitor progress made by national federations on transformation.”

Former CSA director Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw‚ who was instrumental in the establishment of the SJN hearings‚ said SA Rugby must establish their own hearings voluntarily.

“I think all the sporting federations‚ especially SA Rugby given their history‚ need such a process. And also it will be good if they are open to it and they do it voluntarily. The CSA process should be used as a test case because I hear in 2018 there was a transformation indaba with recommendations and they ended there and nothing has happened.

“If recommendations are there and they are not implemented‚ maybe the whole thing can be upgraded to a commission. With a commission there is no way you can’t implement if they say you must implement.”

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