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Give Allister and Stick a sporting chance

THE appointment of Allister Coetzee and Mzwandile Stick to the Springbok team represents an opportunity to align rugby with contemporary SA. Let’s not blow it.

Both bring considerable social and political capital. Each has proved himself to be a game-changer. At Western Province, Coetzee showed that you could field a team with eight or nine players of colour and still be the best in the country. In his eight years at the helm, he led the Stormers to the top of the South African conference three times, and won the Currie Cup twice.

Almost half the players in Stick’s Under-19 team, which went on to win the Under-19 Currie Cup, were black, most of them from the Eastern Cape.

Neither came from a culture that privileged whiteness, and they gave the lie to the prevailing wisdom in parts of South African rugby: that black players weaken a team and are the tax you pay to appease the politicians.

Stick grew up in a Port Elizabeth township with a mother who frequently struggled to put food on the table. He attended the local township school, and yet still managed to make it to the top, captaining the Sevens team that won the World Series title in 2008-09.

Coetzee grew up in Grahamstown. He has a vivid memory of watching white boys at nearby Kingswood College play rugby with the best equipment, while he had to walk to the much poorer coloured school down the road. His father died while he was very young and his mother struggled to provide for him and his three siblings.



ALTHOUGH a talented and ambitious scrumhalf, his race precluded him from playing for SA.

Stick and Coetzee reflect the tough life experiences common to the majority of South Africans, and their elevation to the upper echelons of the game must make it seem much more accessible than it has in the past.

Neither has a chip on the shoulder, or sees himself as a victim. Their victory against the odds they were born into shows character and emotional resilience.

These qualities came in handy when dealing with their respective managements.

Stick answered to the deeply dysfunctional Eastern Province Rugby Union, and Coetzee endured eight years of frequently erratic and interfering management under the Western Province Rugby Union.

But the pressures on the Springbok coach, in particular, are way more intense and, without proper support, Coetzee will struggle.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) has done well to appoint Coetzee and Stick. But it now needs to prove that this is not window-dressing. It needs to give their new Bok coach all the resources he needs to succeed. Otherwise, his appointment will be seen to be a cynical one, setting him up to fail.

Similar privileges to those accorded to Heyneke Meyer would be a good start.

Saru forked out substantial sums at the start of Meyer’s tenure to enable him to bring his own management team from the Bulls. He was then allowed to add more coaches, such as breakdown specialist, Richie Gray.

As yet, Coetzee does not appear to be similarly indulged. There is no evidence that he has picked any members of the team announced on Tuesday.

Given that he has already been disadvantaged by being appointed three-and-a-half months late, Saru needs to do all it can to help him, otherwise it risks being accused of not giving the same opportunities to a black coach as it gave to a white, Afrikaans one.

The corporate world should come to the party: any new sponsorship deals should be predicated on better governance, which would include equal opportunity for all employees, regardless of colour.

There has been talk of the Super Rugby coaches forming a Bok “selection committee”. This must be rapidly scotched. Meyer fought for — and won — the right to have ultimate say over selection. Rightly, he argued that if he were to be held responsible for winning every game, he needed to be able to pick his team.

The Super Rugby franchises need to play their part and put petty provincial rivalry aside.

The initiative introduced in Meyer’s term of systematically resting key Springbok players during Super Rugby must be continued.

Super Rugby coaches should also give more players of colour some proper game time to increase the pool available to Coetzee.

Fans need to give the new coaching team the benefit of the doubt. A bit of generosity of spirit would go a long way. Fans, particularly those who flock to Ellis Park for the iconic All Black derbies, should learn the first verses of the national anthem so that we are no longer subjected to the dramatic amplification of sound when English and Afrikaans verses are sung. It’s not that difficult. Make an effort.



DESPITE the autumn chill in the air, there is a sense of spring-time, of new beginnings, about rugby. Unlike Meyer, who looked to seasoned troops right from the start of his campaign, Coetzee will have to start afresh. Most of last year’s team have either retired, are approaching retirement, or are playing abroad.

This should not be a problem for Coetzee, who has proved that he is happy to trust youngsters.

Stick is something of a specialist in turning rookies into stars, given his track record with the Eastern Province Under-19s.

Transformation, which is viewed as a burden by Meyer, will come naturally to Coetzee.

At the Stormers, Coetzee displayed the ability effortlessly to forge racially and culturally diverse teams. Boys of colour were given every opportunity, but so were white players. Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers, Eben Etzebeth flourished in his time, as did Siya Kolisi, Scarra Ntubeni, and Nizaam Carr.

There is a good chance that, with Coetzee and Stick at the helm, the sense of marginalisation that has plagued black Springboks will be a thing of the past. Under Meyer, Afrikaans was used for team talks, which was alienating for black players. The new Bok set-up hopefully will better reflect our diversity of languages.

Stick’s Under-19s also brought a vibrant culture from their Eastern Cape schools — with traditional isiXhosa war and struggle songs borrowed from their elders.

Some infusion of this into Bok culture could only enrich it.

• McGregor is author of Springbok Factory: What it Takes to be a Bok, and a visiting researcher at the Institute for the Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town.

*This column first appeared in Business Day


Oscar Pistorius due in court today for first time since Constitutional Court rejection

Behind the DoorOscar Pistorius is due in the Pretoria High Court today for the first time since he lost his final application for leave to appeal his murder conviction.

The case is expected to be formally postponed to June for sentencing proceedings.

The double-amputee athlete must be sentenced afresh after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) last year overturned his culpable homicide conviction for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and replaced it with a murder conviction.

Pistorius‚ 29‚ shot Steenkamp‚ 29‚ through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on February 14, 2013.

He said that he had fired the four shots believing that an intruder was hiding behind the door and his and Steenkamp’s lives were in danger.

The Constitutional Court last month dismissed Pistorius’s application for leave to appeal to that court against the SCA ruling.

Pistorius has not been seen in public since that decision.

He is out on bail of R10,000 and has been living at his uncle Arnold’s luxury home in Waterkloof‚ Pretoria‚ ever since his release from prison in October last year.

He had served about a year of the five-year jail term imposed on him before being released under correctional supervision.

The state or the defence may ask for alterations to Pistorius’ bail conditions now that his attempt to appeal his murder conviction has failed.

Pistorius’s current bail conditions allow him to leave his uncle’s house between 7 AM and noon. He is not allowed to travel beyond 10km from his uncle’s house.

The Office of the Chief Justice announced last month that Pistorius’s sentencing proceedings have been set down for June 13 to 17 after agreement between the state and defence lawyers and Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba.

Source: TMG Digital

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The recovery of Africa's philosopher-king - A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo Mbeki by Adekeye Adebajo

A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo MbekiNew from Jacana Media, A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo Mbeki by Adekeye Adebajo:

Mbeki was a complex figure, full of contradictions and paradoxes: a rural child who became an urban sophisticate; a prophet of Africa’s Renaissance who was also an anglophile; a committed young Marxist who, while in power, embraced conservative economic policies and protected white corporate interests; a rational and dispassionate thinker who was particularly sensitive to criticism and dissent; a champion of African self-reliance who relied excessively on foreign capital and promoted a continental economic plan – Nepad – that was disproportionately dependent on foreign aid; and a thoughtful intellectual who supported policies on HIV/Aids that withheld antiretroviral drugs from infected people, resulting in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.

Mbeki is the most important African political figure of his generation and a dominant figure in South African politics for 14 years. A pan-African philosopher-king who spent two decades in exile, as president of Africa’s most industrialised state, he set out a sweeping vision of an African Renaissance.

As a key liberation leader in exile, Mbeki was instrumental in his party’s anti-apartheid struggle. During the South African transition, he helped build one of the world’s most respected constitutional democracies. As president, despite some successes, he was unable to overcome South Africa’s inherited socioeconomic challenges, and his disastrous Aids policies will remain a major blotch in his legacy. He will, however, be remembered more as a foreign policy president for his peace-making efforts in Africa and in the building of continental institutions such as the African Union and Nepad.

This book seeks to rescue Mbeki from South African parochialism and to restore him to a pan-African pantheon.

About the author

Adekeye Adebajo is Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town, and Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. A former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, he is the author of The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War and editor of Africa’s Peacemakers: Nobel Peace Laureates of African Descent. He is a columnist for Business Day (South Africa) and the Guardian (Nigeria).

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Betrayed by a friend and sold into human trafficking in Joburg: Grizelda Grootboom's Exit!

Exit!Presenting Exit! – the story of Grizelda Grootboom’s life of prostitution and her ultimate escape from it all:

How does one enter an 18-year hell of drugs and prostitution? Through one of the world’s most evil and least-known criminal networks; human trafficking. Grootboom was one such victim, betrayed by a trusted friend and sold into the syndicate.

Click on the link below to watch Grootboom talk about her life experiences:

YouTube Preview Image

Hers is not a one dimensional story; Grootboom offers us a layered South African narrative. Filled with complexity and painfully honest in its telling, we begin to understand the hopeless resignation that envelops so many women forced into this position. If you have been molested from the age of nine, if your whole life has been a never-ending story of poverty, family abandonment and dislocation, then when you find yourself trapped in the worst possible situation, the only way out seems to be to resign yourself to your plight.

But Grizelda found an Exit!

Right on time, the book arrives as government’s new national strategic plan for HIV prevention, care and treatment for sex workers is announced in March 2016. This is an issue that Grizelda deals with in her book.

About the author

Grizelda Grootboom is an activist against human trafficking who supports fellow survivors undergoing rehabilitation. She is currently working at Embrace Dignity, an NPO based in Cape Town. It is part of a growing global movement working to restore dignity for all people by advocating for law reform and public education to address commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

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Book Launch: I'm the Girl Who Was Raped by Michelle Hattingh

I'm the Girl Who Was RapedMichelle HattinghThe Book Lounge and Modjaji Books are proud to invite you to the launch of a courageous book, I’m the Girl Who Was Raped written by Michelle Hattingh on April 28th. Michelle will be in conversation with writer and gender activist, Jen Thorpe.

Modjaji and The Book Lounge are donating R20 to Rape Crisis for each book bought at the launch.

That morning, Michelle presented her Psychology honours thesis on men’s perceptions of rape. She started her presentation like this, “A woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read …” On that same evening, she goes to a party to celebrate attaining her degree. She and a friend go to the beach; the friend has something she wants to discuss. They are both robbed, assaulted and raped. Within minutes of getting help, Michelle realises she’ll never be herself again. She’s now “the girl who was raped”.

This book is Michelle’s fight to be herself again. Of the taint she feels, despite the support and resources at her disposal as the loved child of a successful middle-class family. Of the fall-out to friendships, job, identity. It’s Michelle’s brave way of standing up for the women in South Africa who are raped every day.

Many people think middle class women are magically immune to rape or that if they are raped their easy access to the resources they need will be everything they need to recover completely. A book that discusses the cross cutting nature of the pain all women must feel when a man rapes them can only be welcomed in a time when communities across South Africa struggle with high rape rates. Kathleen Dey of Rape Crisis

More about Michelle
Michelle Hattingh was born in South Africa in 1988. She attended school in Port Elizabeth and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Stellenbosch University. She went on to do her Honours in Psychology at Cape Town University and now lives in Cape Town. Michelle works as senior online content producer at Marie Claire SA. Her work has been published in Elle SA, Marie Claire SA and the Mail & Guardian. I’m the Girl Who Was Raped is her first book.

I'm the Girl Who Was Raped
Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 28 April 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge, Corner of Roeland and Buitenkant Streets, Cape Town CBD
  • Guest Speaker: Jen Thorpe
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of Leopard’s Leap wine and snacks
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, +27 21 462 2425

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The day I was asked to shop my comrades for high treason - Extract from Fordsburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer

Published in the Sunday Times

An edited extract from Fordsburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer by Amin Cajee, as told to Terry Bell (Cover 2 Cover Books)

Fordsburg FighterThe words echoed in my head: “You are guilty of high treason and the penalty is death.” I froze. Terrified. It was September 1966; I was 24 years old. I was in Kongwa, an ANC camp in Tanzania.

And I was going to die.

The man who spoke those words was Joe Modise, a senior representative of the ANC, a movement which, we were often told, should be regarded as our mother and father.

We were all South Africans a long way from home, families and friends, frustrated fighters stranded in a foreign country and totally reliant on the ANC. The movement had control over every aspect of our lives.

I had no idea what would happen when my name was called out in the camp and I was escorted into a room to stand before a tribunal.

Looking severe, Modise informed me I was being charged with high treason: with the help of a foreign power, I and others had plotted to overthrow the leadership of the ANC. The other accused were friends of mine – “Pat” (Patrick Molaoa), who had been an accused in the Treason Trial; “Mntungwa” (Vincent Khumalo); “Ali” (Hussain Jacobs); and “Mogorosi” (Michael Thomolang). They were to be tried separately and the penalty we all faced was death.

I remained mute, staring blankly ahead, my mind racing and unable to make any sense of the charge. The other four panel members – “Paul Peterson” (Basil February), Boycie Bodibe, Chris Hani and Jack Gatiep – looked on impassively as Joe informed me there were witnesses to a meeting at which this plot had been hatched. They had given evidence that we had all been in touch with the Chinese embassy in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.

This was insane. I blurted out: “You are not serious, are you?” But they were. They were charging us with having established links with the embassy, 240km to the southeast, in Dar, when we were restricted to the camp and village, without postal, let alone radio, communications.

Chris emphasised the seriousness of the charge, with Boycie threatening me with very serious consequences, among them execution in various brutal ways. I denied that I had been involved in anything treasonous and asked who the witnesses were and if I could question them. The request was refused.

It was then that I was thrown a cynical lifeline by “Paul Peterson”. He addressed me in a friendly way, telling me that “all this can be sorted out”. What I had to do was to confirm that “Pat” and “Mntungwa” had initiated the scheme.

I realised then that the whole charade was really about “Pat” and “Mntungwa”, who were apparently seen by Joe as a threat at a time [of] much jockeying for power and position. Both were well known in the movement in South Africa and had considerable support in the camp. Unlike Joe, they had top positions in the ANC before it was banned.

They had initially been sent for training in China. But now China and the ANC’s main backer, the Soviet Union, were at loggerheads.

When I refused to agree, the panel threatened me with serious consequences. My death sentence, I was told, could mean being taken to a game park where I would be left for wild animals I was frightened, but I couldn’t help them, and said so. An order was given and I was marched out and locked in a tiny windowless room.

I realised that I had been dragged into a bitter power struggle that seemed to be based on language lines – between isiXhosa speakers from the Cape and isiZulu speakers from Natal. There had also been an incident weeks earlier involving 29 members of the “Natal group”. Although Modise was from Johannesburg and a Setswana speaker, he had allied himself with what was referred to as the “Cape group”.

The incident that triggered my trial was referred to as Operation 29 because that was the number of Natal comrades who had mutinied by taking the camp’s only truck.

Late one morning at the end of August 1966the Natal group had boarded the truck and left the camp at high speed. There was pandemonium, with the commanders running around. At least an hour passed before the camp was calm again.

Jack Gatiep, one of the commanders, addressed us. He at first told the story in a matter-of-fact way. Dar es Salaam had been informed and the Tanzanian authorities alerted.

But then Jack’s language and mood changed. These men, he said, were traitors and deserters, enemies of “the people of South Africa”. They had been planted by the South African security forces. They would be caught and dealt with without mercy. This rhetoric seemed to inflame the mood of some of the comrades and Chris Hani led the charge, calling for the death penalty.

As we heard later, the truck was intercepted at a Tanzanian army roadblock near Morogoro. It was about 4pm when the truck trundled back into camp, with the 29 mutineers in high spirits, singing freedom songs. They disembarked, formed ranks and stood to attention, waiting for instructions. The rest of us stood watching the spectacle.

Rubin stepped forward from the ranks of the Natal group.The reason for taking the vehicle, he said, was to convey their grievances to the leadership in Lusaka. For years there had been no serious attempt to move the struggle south and into South Africa. What they had done was to highlight their frustration at the inaction of the leadership.

The commanders, having bayed for their blood, were at a loss as to how to handle the situation. Eventually, they simply dismissed them after telling them it was not the end of the matter; they would be tried for mutiny.

As we waited for the next move from the commanders, the atmosphere in the camp was extremely tense. Groups were coalescing and seen to be meeting at different locations late into the night. My friend Omar and I kept a low profile.

As we hoped, it was only a matter of days before some of the top leadership arrived in Kongwa. Acting ANC president Oliver Tambo came along with ANC and SACP leaders Moses Kotane, JB Marks and Moses Mabhida, a major ANC figure in Natal. With them were Mzwai Piliso, Mendi Msimang and Joe Modise.

Meetings were held with the commanders, but JB Marks also made a point of talking with the rank and file. He wanted to know when and where things had started going wrong. We felt comfortable with him: he was easy-going and approachable.

After two days of these talks an assembly was called. Oliver Tambo stood up to address us, and what he said took us completely by surprise. He did not mention any of the issues that had resulted in the so-called mutiny — the poor conditions in the camp, the low morale and the frustration at being kept in limbo. Instead, he launched a scathing attack on the group that had taken the truck. He said a panel of judges would try the group for mutiny.

He added that what had happened was a serious crime against the people of South Africa and could not go unpunished. Tambo concluded that he had other important business to attend to and was leaving with the rest of the leadership for Dar es Salaam.

On the morning of the trial we were marched into the hall. There were more than 400 of us in Kongwa then and we crammed into every available space, leaving room at the front where there was a table and four chairs for the panel of judges.

With the exception of Joe Modise, who took the chair, [all the judges] were isiXhosa speakers from the Cape: Chris Hani, “Paul Peterson”, Jack Gatiep and “Zola Zembe”. Modise, in his opening statement, repeated Tambo’s words, but stressed that the assembled comrades would be given the opportunity to have their say. So began what looked like the beginnings of a tragi-comedy as apparently hand-picked members, particularly from the Cape, were called on to make contributions. In each case these comrades expressed outrage and demanded the death penalty, suggesting the “mutineers” be either shot or hanged.

During the lunch break a group of us decided that we had to make our voices heard. We could not allow what was a show trial choreographed by Joe Modise to go unchallenged.

When we reassembled, one speaker after another stood up to state that what the Natal group had done was to highlight not only the frustration we all felt, but also the many broken promises of the leadership. The deterioration in the health of a number of comrades also featured prominently. Comrades pointed out that they had felt for a long time that it was better to fight and die in South Africa than to rot in a country thousands of miles away.

Even those speakers who conceded that the manner in which the protest had been carried out was not right noted that they saw no other option because there was no access to leaders, who rarely appeared.

Two and a half hours later the panel retired to offices to consider the evidence. We were surprised at the leniency when the sentence was announced: the accused were effectively confined to barracks – confined within the perimeter of the camp – for two weeks. Morale seemed to soar and I think we all thought things were about to change gear and we would be heading south to start the liberation war.

It was not to be.

A week after the trial, at around ten in the morning, I was sitting in my tent when I heard shouts. As I stepped out of the tent flap I saw about five groups, each comprising about three or four men, brandishing sticks and knives, running from tent to tent and attacking other comrades. I was joined by Omar and “Mntungwa” and we were moving away from the area when we were accosted by comrades with knives and sticks.

The attack was merciless and all I remember was blocking everything they threw at us with my arms.

I was bleeding from my head and nose where the sticks had landed and there was a stab wound in my hand, the result of a blocked knife attack. Victor helped me to the clinic. “Mntungwa” was being carried, bleeding heavily as he had been stabbed in a number of places. He was clearly the main target of the attack and was hospitalised. I had 10 stitches to my head and several to my palm.

The next morning Joe Modise returned to a camp riddled with paranoia and fear and heavily armed factions. With his return came the announcement that another tribunal had been set up. And this was the occasion on which I was sentenced to death – and offered a reprieve, but only if I would effectively confirm a similar sentence on good friends and comrades.

Cajee will be at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

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