We have become too used to our sport stars dying in crashes
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The picture of a young woman dressed in mourning clothes while laying wreaths and lighting a candle at the crash scene where Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana player Motjeka Madisha died at the weekend said it all. Road accidents cause untold suffering to the families of the deceased.
While the outpouring of shock and sadness was swift, it was all too familiar. We have become too used to our athletes dying in crashes. The carnage has become a quintessential South African story – a daily occurrence that shocks us only when it involves a prominent person or many people.
Madisha’s death came fresh after that of his teammate, Anele Ngcongca.
Their death should remind us about the importance of educating our athletes about life skills and how to handle the pressures of fame. This was the overriding message of Dr Irvin Khoza, the PSL boss, at the memorial service of another fallen soccer star, Gift Leremi, in 2007.
“I wonder as a sport, as an industry, we failed Leremi, and whether we are continuing to fail many young South Africans who give their best years to soccer,” Khoza told the mourners.
“As administrators, we are obliged to provide the young men who play our sport at the highest level with the opportunity and the means to learn the life skills that will ensure they are successful, not only on the field of play but also outside the four white lines. I do not believe we have done so in the past, but we must do so now.”
Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe and the then Gauteng Sports MEC Barbara Creecy expressed the same view.
Has has anything been done since then? Year after year, as we head into the festive season and Easter holidays, we are subjected to hard talk rhetoric by politicians warning of tough law enforcement actions. We are fed stats and facts on road fatalities. Yet, there are no concrete plans to reduce them. There are usually fewer consequences for the transgressors. It is high time the government stops the political grandstanding and makes it a priority.
However, the government cannot be taking the blame alone. We, road users, are inflicting pain on ourselves and our families and those of fellow road users, through our irresponsible actions. Too many of us are not obeying the rules of the road. We need to get real about the carnage and realise there are dangers lurking in disregarding the rules. It’s about time.