NRU still mum on allegations of racism in rugby
Windhoek – Almost a month has lapsed since damaging allegations of racial abuse reared its ugly head in domestic rugby, but the country’s presiding rugby body, the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU), is yet to pronounce itself on this serious incident that has brought local rugby into disrepute.
Just a few weeks ago, New Era Sport reported extensively on an alleged racial slur towards a dark-skinned rugby player uttered by a Wanderers Rugby Club player, one Theo ‘Kwaaitjie’ Coetzee, during a club championship match in Windhoek.
The Wanderers player is alleged to have called Patrick Mulamba “n swart bobbejaan” – meaning black baboon in Coetzee’s native Afrikaans.
The slur did not exactly go down well with the bulky South African prop, who retaliated in fury and had to be restrained by his teammates, as he evidently wanted to bliksem the perpetrator.
Both NRU and his club, Wanderers, at first appeared to turn a blind eye to the unfolding saga, but were eventually obliged to respond after the influential South West Africa People’s Organisation Youth League (SPYL) demanded an investigation into the alleged racial abuse on the field.
Wanderers acted swiftly by hauling Coetzee before a disciplinary hearing, where he was found guilty of serious misconduct and subsequently slapped with a three-year ban from all forms of rugby.
Yet the NRU has remained quiet as the grave about this stomach-churning debacle, as if pretending that it’s not their baby.
As matters stand, the NRU’s uncharacteristic silence on the potentially damaging allegations is likely – and rightly so – to be interpreted as endorsement and condonement of Coetzee’s behaviour – something that is very much against the spirit of fair play, nation building and reconciliation.
Numerous attempts to engage the NRU on this issue proved futile, as the union appears to have systematically embarked on a total blackout of the government-owned national newspaper.