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SA Rugby dragged to the Human Rights Commission after fans ridiculed as members of the EFF at Bok Test

11 February 2019 - 10:22 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux says the rugby body is willing to meet with the Human Rights Commission.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux says the rugby body is willing to meet with the Human Rights Commission.
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen

SA Rugby is being dragged to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after a group of black fans were allegedly racially abused at Loftus during the Rugby Championship match between the Springboks and New Zealand in October last year.

They were also ridiculed as members of the Economic Freedom Fighters because of the red jerseys they were wearing.

“We were dressed in unique red special edition Springboks rugby jerseys that were commissioned by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to mark the 25th anniversary of “rugby unity” in South Africa.

"Whilst we were walking towards the Gate 11 entrance‚ an unknown white man pointed towards us and uttered the following words to his friend: “kyk hier‚ hulle is die EFF”.

"The only inference I could draw from the use of the acronym “EFF” is that he was referring to Economic Freedom Fighters‚ a political party.

“As I was digesting this comment and its import‚ his unknown friend pointed in our direction and uttered the following words: “Ja‚ kyk hier die bobbejaan”.

"One of my friends said a banana was thrown at our direction as we walked away but I didn’t see that incident.

"I immediately confronted “unknown white man 2” for calling us “bobbejaan” by grabbing his arm as he was walking past and asked him what he had just said.

“He looked at me bewilderedly and denied having said anything.

"During the course of this confrontation a white woman emerged and dragged “unknown white man 2” away from the confrontation and they left.

"I neither pursued them nor did I pursue the matter any further with the South African Police Service or any official at the stadium.”

Speaking to TimesLIVE‚ Lunga Siyo‚ who is a practicing advocate by profession‚ said the matter is not about the identities of the two white men who racially abused them.

He said he wants SA Rugby to have proper protocols to deal with racial abuse issues effectively in the future.

“It is not about the identities of the people who said those things to us‚ my issue is that SA Rugby doesn’t have protocols to deal with these types of issues‚" he said.

"There are no mechanisms whatsoever and I am saying to Saru that you have to do something about this because the environment at rugby stadiums has become increasingly antagonistic to black rugby fans around the country.”

Siyo also expressed his frustration that SA Rugby never had the decency to acknowledge the letter he sent to the sports body on October 23 2018.

“To this day‚ they never responded to the letter that I sent to them last year and it looks to me that they wanted to sweep this matter under the carpet‚" he said.

"What is even interesting is that SAHRC got Saru’s contacts from me and they (Saru) responded to them (SAHRC).”

On December 14‚ SAHRC acting head of legal services Buang Jones notified SA Rugby that a complaint has been lodged by Siyo and rugby body only responded on January 17 where its chief executive Jurie Roux apologises for the late response.

“We acknowledge receipt and thank you for your letter dated 14 December 2018‚ of which the content had been noted‚" the letter said.

"Apologies for the belated reply but we have been closed for the festive season only having started again this week.

"As we at SA Rugby take these kinds of incidents and/or conduct very seriously‚ we would be happy to meet with the Commission at its offices as soon as possible.

"However‚ the three dates proposed by yourself‚ being 22‚ 23 or 24 January 2019 will unfortunately not be workable for us due to both the President and myself needing to depart abroad that week for World Rugby meetings.

“In light of the above we request if the meeting can be rescheduled to after our return from abroad as both the president and myself wish to be at this meeting.

"One of the following dates are proposed: 1. Monday‚ 11 February 2019; 2. Wednesday‚ 13 February 2019; or 3. Thursday‚ 14 February 2019‚” read the letter that was signed by Roux.