Helen Zille on ‘racist’ rugby video: 'Context is everything'

07 October 2019 - 09:48 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille.
Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille.
Image: Business Day/Trevor Samson. File Photo.

Former DA leader Helen Zille has weighed in on a “racist” rugby video that made waves on social media at the weekend. 

On Friday, the Springboks' 49-3 Rugby World Cup victory over Italy sparked a racial debate in SA after TV cameras caught six white players appearing to exclude the team's winger, Makazole Mapimpi, from their celebrations.

Mapimpi, who initially looked to join the group, walked away, looking dismissive. 

Sunday Times reported the clip also did not show Herschel Jantjies and Malcolm Marx joining the group moments later.

Some social media users, including Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mzwandile Masina, suggested Mapimpi was excluded for racial reasons.

However, TimesLIVE reported that Mapimpi said he'd seen the video and provided clarity on what happened.

Speaking in isiXhosa and English, he said: “Basically what happens after each game is that we shake hands with the opposition. As we were completing the handshakes, the bomb squad was coming together to do their call or chant.

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“As I was walking towards them, I realised that they were about to do their call and that I wasn’t part of it, so I decided that I needed to move away.

“I wasn’t part of it, but there was nothing wrong there with what they were doing. We are united as a team.”

Zille weighs in

On Twitter, Zille said Mapimpi's explanation illustrated that “context is everything”.

“The optics of this video were awful — but here Mapimpi explains why the bench 'bomb-squad' was celebrating on its own, and why he — as a 'main player' — was legitimately not part of the bomb squad,” she said.

The party that promises 'One South Africa for All' has been accused of all talk and no action. The DA has found itself in multiple sticky situations, garnering criticism from all sides. Herman Mashaba, Mmusi Maimane and Solly Msimanga are some of the DA leaders who have found themselves in hot water. From illegal tender claims to an alleged Steinhoff-sponsored SUV. Many have questioned the DA's leadership and DA-led municipalities as they shift from one controversy to another.