IOL Soccer writer Njabulo Ngidi shares his thoughts on Safa backing Danny Jordaan after he was accused of rape.
In a hastily organised press conference on Thursday, the SA Football Association (Safa) went from talking about supporting their president Danny Jordaan amidst a case of rape opened against him to talking about the strides they have made in empowering women. 

It was terribly distasteful and ignorant   looking a lot like a racist who makes inflammatory remarks and then turns around to argue they aren’t racist because they have four black friends. Safa’s head of the Ethics Committee, Poobalan Govindasamy, read the statement from the organisation that revealed their support for Jordaan despite singer and former ANC MP Jennifer Ferguson opening a case of rape against the Safa president.

Five months ago Ferguson accused Jordaan of raping her in Port Elizabeth in 1993. On Tuesday last week she formally opened a rape case against the Safa boss. 

Govindasamy said the organisation supports Jordaan because “every person, with no exception, is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law”. He then went on to suggest that Ferguson has ulterior motives for opening the case against Jordaan by questioning her timing, an insensitive accusation that has been thrown at every woman who has accused a powerful man of rape.

“We note that there has been, over a period of six months, a large scale of media attacks on our president,” the statement reads. “But on a more equitable and fair process the complainant, Ms Jennifer Ferguson, has only now referred her complaint to a forum that can deal with the matter in terms of the laws of the country and our constitution. We further note the worrying tendency of a trial by the media outside of our established legal structures created to deal with matters of this nature and the rights of women in general who have been abused Our president is on record that he denies the allegations of the complainant, Ms Ferguson, as announced by the media in October/November 2017, four days before our constitutional congress. He further denied all allegations as announced in the media on 20 March 2018, which is four days before our scheduled elective congress. We note, very importantly, the complainant’s recent version which is significantly different from her 2017 October/November narrative.”

Safa president Danny Jordaan has the backing from the soccer body after he was accused of rape. Photo: safa.net

Safa’s defence of Jordaan and their statement didn’t come as a surprise to me. I knew he wouldn’t step down from his post while he bids to clear his name, especially with the upcoming elections where he seeks to win a second term. 

The soccer body should have done the right thing by ordering him to step aside while the matter is heard because rape is a huge problem. Govindasamy is right in that people are innocent until proven guilty but as the head of the ethics committee he must also understand the moral ground Safa must take. 

Safa aren’t the only people who have handled this case badly. Jordaan’s challenger Ace Ncobo is guilty of using the matter to score cheap political points, saying on record that Safa is “led by people who are hell-bent on raping its statutes”. Those words were carefully chosen with these accusations hanging over Jordaan. It was terribly insensitive.

The sideshow from the Safa elections should be a Damascus moment for South African football to clear a lot of the rot in the game by becoming more transparent, accountable and fighting the scourge of sexual harassment that women in the industry have to deal with. It starts by doing the right thing from the people in power and holding their own accountable. 

This isn’t written to suggest that Jordaan is guilty or innocent on the accusations levelled against him. But because of the seriousness of rape, he shouldn’t be in the position he holds while he tries to clear his name. 

As men this episode should inspire us to stop turning a blind eye on sexual harassment because we are the perpetrators and the people who have the power to stop it. This reminds me of the rape advert Oscar-winner Charlize Theron appeared in in 1999, in which she said: “People often ask me what the men are like in South Africa. Well, if you consider that more women are raped in South Africa than in any country in the world, that one out of three women will be raped in their lifetime in South Africa, that every 26 seconds a woman is raped in South Africa, and perhaps worst of all, that the rest of the men in South Africa seem to think rape isn’t their problem, it’s not that easy to say what the men are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there.”


Saturday Star

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