Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has received support from former rugby greats for his stance on the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has received support from former rugby greats for his stance on the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

‘A dire absence of dignity’: Saru Sacos Legends stand with Lungi Ngidi

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Jul 15, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – The Saru Sacos Legends have expressed their support for Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi, adding that the struggles experienced by black sports people – even in a democratic dispensation – have “vindicated our perspectives as non-racialists”.

The legends, made up of a number of former rugby players who featured in the non-racial South African Rugby Union teams during apartheid, have long felt that a number of their top players have been deliberately sidelined as rugby players, coaches, administrators and experts in the media due to their anti-racism stance – in the past and present.

Another group of more than 30 black former Proteas and a number of local coaches also voiced their support for Ngidi this week.

Now, following criticism of Ngidi by the likes of former Proteas players Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar – after the tall SA fast bowler said he wanted the current team to discuss Black Lives Matter – the Saru Sacos Legends feel that the unity process in cricket and sport in general have been trampled upon by the likes of Symcox and Dippenaar.

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“Our organisation has always had as one of its objectives to strive for justice and equality for all this country’s sportspeople. This would focus on ensuring that all those rugby players who plied their trade or are plying their trade receive equal opportunities,” the legends said in a statement.

“We have always maintained and seen evidence that this has not always been the case. Our perceptions have now been vindicated in the aftermath of Lungi Ngidi’s call to honour the ‘Black Lives (Matter) Movement’ and the subsequent negative responses by certain former Protea national cricket players, Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar.

“Our magnanimous spirit to forgive the past injustices and build a new society was completely brushed aside, made so apparent in the outbursts by the likes of Pat and Boeta, unrepentant and undiminished by our continued plight.

“They are symptomatic and part of a band of former beneficiaries of our continued marginalisation that sit behind the microphones and media desks punting the only sporting narrative of the pre-democratic era, which excluded the majority population.

“We are witnesses to how the sacrifices and history of the non-racial fraternity are deliberately kept out of the mainstream South African sporting history.

“Our noble non-racial history should have had the pre-eminent position in this country, but alas, it does not even feature despite our constant protestations and which does not reflect well on our democratic leadership.”

The Saru Sacos Legends are made up of former players who featured in the non-racial SA Rugby Union teams during apartheid. Photo: History of SARU Rugby on facebook

The legends added that a portent of things to come for non-racial sports people was when former rugby president Louis Luyt took President Nelson Mandela to court in the late 1990s to contest the announcement of a commission of inquiry into allegations of mismanagement and nepotism at the SA Rugby Football Union (Sarfu) – a case which Mandela won in the Constitutional Court following an appeal against a Pretoria High Court judgment in Luyt’s favour.

“We should have already seen the signs when even the great Nelson Mandela was dragged to court by an unrepentant Louis Luyt. We should have taken note of such unbridled, covert racism amidst the veneer of nation-building and reconciliation, which are now also coming to the fore in the utterances of these two former Proteas,” the Saru Sacos Legends said.

“The responses to our requests is to ‘move on’, ‘the past is the past’, ‘playing the race card’ and all the while, the exclusive Springbok history of yesteryear’s apartheid past is continually rammed down our throats – even the hated rebel cricket and rugby tours get a look-in.

“Is this not a gesture and articulation that our (the disadvantaged) history and contributions do not matter, that your sacrifices do not matter, that ‘Black Lives do not Matter’?

“Symcox’s ‘what nonsense is this’ and Boeta’s unrepentant stance shows callousness, lack of a common humanity and a dire absence of dignity bordering on a deeper personal inborn mentality of superiority which is solely based on skin colour.

Pat Symcox and other former Proteas objected to Lungi Ngidi's stance on the #BLM movement. Cartoon: Bethuel Mangena/African News Agency/ANA

“The support on social media by a coterie of selfsame personalities to their utterances is demonstrative of a group of people who have been socialised on a staple diet of racism. They have not shrugged off the yoke and mentality of our unjust past.

“So, we stand firmly and squarely behind Lungi Ngidi’s call, as we believe ‘All Lives Matter’ only until such time as ‘Black Lives Matter’ to the same extent, which it does not, as evidence abounds and are made pertinent by the likes of Pat and Boeta.”



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