'I also want to vomit on Bok jersey'

By Angela Quintal

The National Assembly's combative sports committee chair Butana Komphela says he too feels like vomiting on the Springbok rugby jersey and is not going to apologise for his view.

Komphela was reacting to a video clip in the stepped up campaign to drop the Springbok, which shows apartheid-era rugby supremo, Danie Craven, questioned about whether a multi-racial side would also be called the Springboks.

"We, as the Springbok team, would not like to lose our identity, because the Springboks have always been associated with whites, the leopard, again, has been associated with the blacks. No one wants to lose his identity," Craven replied.

Komphela said this was why he believed that the Springbok was a symbol of "white supremacy" and should be culled once and for all.

Craven's infamous comment, and some of the messages posted on websites in favour of the retention of the Springbok emblem, was enough to make him want to back controversial flanker Luke Watson's strong feelings of disgust.

"I also feel like I want to vomit on the Springbok jersey," Komphela said.

On why he was prepared to wear the Bok jersey at the World Cup last year and even wanted to address the squad given his abhorrence, Komphela said that when a South African team went abroad "as a leader of the country you can't demoralise and rubbish them".

However, the Bok remained a legacy of apartheid and needed to be destroyed.

Komphela said he believed there was a witchhunt against Watson, who had already been tried and judged in the media, as well as by some rugby officials before he was even charged, given that Durban lawyer Dekker Govender, had yet to indicate whether Watson should face an inquiry.

Watson is the son of activist and former star rugby player Cheeky Watson, who has been vocal about the need for the emblem to go.

A transcript of Luke Watson's speech on transformation at the Ubumbo Rugby Festival shows that he did not refer to "Dutchmen", although it is claimed he did so in a question and answer session.

His views on vomiting on his rugby jersey also appear to have been taken out of context.

Komphela said comments on television and radio by SA Rugby's head of legal affairs Christo Ferreira was an example of how Watson's case could not receive a fair hearing, if he was eventually charged with a breach of the SA Rugby Union's code of conduct.

Ferreira told reporters if Watson was found guilty, he could face a wide range of sanctions that varied from a reprimand, warning, suspension or a fine of up to R100 000.

Komphela said he had complained to Ferreira, SA Rugby CEO Johan Prinsloo, rugby boss Oregan Hoskins and Judge Lex Mpati, who chairs the union's National Judicial Committee.

Although it was expected that Govender would report back to SA Rugby yesterday, a spokesperson said there were no developments.

A letter written to Govender by Ubumbo Rugby dated October 14, stated that nothing "derogatory or defamatory" was said by Watson when he addressed the UCT based-society 11 days earlier.

Nor could any of what Watson said be construed as racist speech or justify "a disciplinary hearing against this man", the group said.

Ubumbo also asked Govender to "stop badgering and harassing our members".

Govender could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but an Ubumbo executive member, Lelethu Ntontela, said some members were young businessmen "who cannot afford to receive numerous phone calls at their work stations - and this was done".

Ubumbo believed there was something "sinister" in the Watson saga, including the way his speech was unlawfully recorded and reported on. "You will note by the Ubumbo letter that these discussions are always of a private nature. The only one to have ever received media coverage is Mr Luke Watson, therefore the feeling is there is something very sinister here."

Ntontela said reporters were definitely not invited and the society had a fair idea "who the person responsible for this illegal recording may be".

Acting sport minister Ngconde Balfour said last night that, given his acting capacity, he did not have the power to force the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to comply with a sports indaba resolution that the Springbok should go by the year-end rugby tour.

This was Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile's competency, Balfour said.

Moss Mashishi, the head of Sascoc, wrote to Stofile this week requesting a copy of the resolution and also asked for direction on how to handle the issue.




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