‘BishBosch’ brawl recounted in court

Bingo Ivanisevic leaves the Cape Town High Court after day six. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Bingo Ivanisevic leaves the Cape Town High Court after day six. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published May 25, 2024


Testimonies heard in the Western Cape High Court have lifted the veil on tense rivalries between two of Cape Town’s most prestigious boys’ schools amid a R645 000 damages claim in the civil courts.

More than six years after the dramatic water polo punch-up between learners from the prestigious Bishops Diocesan College and Rondebosch Boys High schools, various witnesses took to the stand in the past week before Judge Judith Cloete to unpack what transpired on the day.

The incident on February 3, 2018, was dubbed the “BishBosch” brawl and saw Ross Stone from Rondebosch Boys High School being punched by Bingo Ivanisevic of Bishops during a water polo match.

Graphic images provided by Stone’s legal team show the bloodied teen who underwent surgery after his teeth were bashed into his gums and a bone was cracked. One of his teeth was recovered from the bottom of the swimming pool.

In his claim, Stone’s legal team submitted a breakdown of the claim which included medical expenses incurred as a result of the attack, future medical expenses and general damages.

Stone’s lawyers are also holding Bishops responsible for the damages, stating that as the attack occurred on their premises they were liable for damages along with Ivanisevic.

In responding papers, the legal team for Bishops admitted that Ivanisevic attacked Stone but said after the incident they imposed sanctions as stipulated by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (Fina) and instituted disciplinary processes against him.

Bishops has requested that if the High Court found that Ivanisevic was liable for the damages that he be held liable on his own.

In his responding papers, Ivanisevic said he believed that at the time of the incident he was drowning. He claimed he was being held underwater and punched and that he swung a “reactive punch” in the direction of Stone, who was not present at court.

He said the punch by Stone resulted in air being forced out of his lungs and he swallowed water. Ivanisevic said Stone’s actions had placed his life at risk and could have caused serious injuries.

During the trial both former learners took the stand along with employees from each school.

Judge Judith Cloete raised her concerns about the obvious tensions and questioned why a culture of “goading” was allowed during sports matches by not only learners but by parents.

She revealed that in the evidence before her it was found that the bad behaviour of children and parents at the matches were commonplace and included learners from Rondebosch hissing at Bishops pupils while Bishops learners threw coins in the swimming pool and made such comments as “Your mother works for my father”.

In his testimony, the Head of Sport at Bishops, Warren Wallace, was confronted with a plea statement by Ivanisevic who said the management of both schools had failed to bring the spectators under control before the match.

The atmosphere was that of a “gladiatorial spectacle” which, he said, prompted the alleged attack by Stone.

Wallace told the court that during water polo matches the crowds were allowed close to the pool and he had always placed himself near the pool to prevent any fallouts.

He admitted that the crowds get loud and took “digs at each other” but said it was not out of hand or volatile as described by Ivanisevic.

Wallace told the court that there were incidents at other water polo matches where a Bishops parent was involved in a punch-up with a parent from another school.

He also told the court that a report compiled by popular water polo coach Fiona Viotti after the incident was what spurred the decision to proceed with disciplinary action against Ivanisevic.

“It was an unpleasant incident that was being spoken about at the school. It was my decision to institute disciplinary action. There was no need for support statements because the punch happened. I led the investigation with other members of the disciplinary committee.”

Wallace said the school’s disciplinary committee was not at liberty to question Ivanisevic about the pending criminal charges but said he had no idea in what capacity Viotti acted when she apologised, and whether she was apologising on behalf of the school.

He said there was antagonism by Rondebosch learners against Ivanisevic.

“There was always a provocation towards Bingo to get him to react . There was a history.”

During earlier testimony by Bishop’s tutor, Angus Firth, he admitted that the behaviour of children and parents at sports matches was “part of the culture” which he said the schools had tried to correct over the years.

Weekend Argus