Citi Run loses sponsor over racism… Windhoek Harriers left with egg on the face
The ugly face of blatant racism so prevalent in the corridors of many a domestic sporting discipline has again reared its despicable head.
Short on the heels of racist taunts hurled at a visiting South African rugby player during a provincial club rugby match in Windhoek a fortnight ago, Namibia woke up to more shocking news of serious allegations of blatant racism.
The dust is yet to settle in the much-debated racial slur directed at dark-skinned South African Patrick Malumba, who was the target of alleged unprovoked racial abuse by his Wanderers counterpart, Theo Coetzee, also known as ‘Kwaaitjie’ among his circle of friends.
Strangely, his employers, Wanderers, tried to pour cold water on the debacle, apparently aided by the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU)’s half-hearted interest in this matter.
Despite the NRU and Wanderers’ main sponsors, FNB Namibia, showing no intention to intervene in these damning allegations of on-field racism, the incident has opened a can of worms, with others who have also fallen victim to racial abuse at other sporting events in the past coming forward to speak out.
Some of the affected victims are demanding that stern action be taken against the perpetrators of racism. Local socialist Hans Manhke spoke openly about an unpleasant episode that unfolded during the annual Nedbank Citi Run in July.
Manhke’s spouse, Tuulikefo Veronika, was subjected to horrendous racial abuse during a road race staged under the auspices of Windhoek Harriers, a subsidiary arm of Ramblers Sports Club. The matter was brought to the attention of principal race sponsors Nedbank Namibia for prompt intervention in an effort to seek a remedy for the racial malady.
In response, Nedbank said it condemns all forms of racism, adding that as a responsible corporate entity, it would never condone any action that infringes on any person’s humanity, and as such deplored the circumstances that gave rise to the complainant, who was aggrieved by a member of the race organisers.
“We wish to extend our formal apology to you and your family and friends for the maltreatment you were subjected to at an event that Nedbank Namibia has had a proud association with during the last two years.
Windhoek Harriers were subsequently informed that the conduct of their member is unbecoming of the ethos that Nedbank Namibia stands for. Furthermore, Nedbank expressed dismay at the conduct of the individual in question and immediately severed its relationship with the race logistics organisers.
“Nedbank Namibia does not tolerate any insults of any nature to patrons of our events and has, therefore, severed our relationship with Windhoek Harriers in light of the experience that we had,” the bank said in a statement.
It has since emerged that Nedbank has refunded the complainant’s entry fee for the race and confirmed that the accused person, one Susan Gordon, has since resigned from Windhoek Harriers.
This is not the first time that a local sports code loses a key sponsorship over allegations of racism. Cricket Namibia was in October 2013 also stripped of its lucrative annual MTC sponsorship of N$2,5 million over serious allegations of racial prejudice in team selections.