Mzwandile Jacks

Nip fan violence in the bud

2013-04-08 11:57
Mzwandile Jacks (File)
The South African rugby authorities and sports functionaries are again pondering what could put a halt to rugby fan aggression which has taken hold lately.

VIDEO: Fan fight at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

VIDEO: Fan fight at Newlands


This comes after the domestic rugby public was stunned by yet another high-profile act of hooliganism perpetrated by supporters during a rugby match in Newlands recently.

As South Africa staggers from many disturbing and blood-curdling incidents at rugby matches in recent weeks, safety at stadiums across the country has come under the spotlight.

But this amounts to treating the symptoms rather than the cause. I will come back to this point later in the article.

The most ghastly of the incidents happened at Kings Park in Durban, where British tourist, Brett Williams, was murdered three hours after a match between the Sharks and Rebels on March 23.

Trouble began with a stand-up punch-up between opposing fans in the stands of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth last month, when the Southern Kings hosted the Sharks.

Then came what should be an all-time low in crowd conduct when Williams was attacked and murdered by a group of men.

Two weekend's ago, Newlands was added as the latest black mark on the sport, when a female fan was admitted in hospital after a brawl broke out between the infamous "Cape Crusaders" (Cape Town-based supporters of the New Zealand franchise) and Stormers supporters.

Cape Crusaders displayed their real colours with unbecoming conduct that led to Springbok Bryan Habana proposing to acquire one-way tickets for all of them to New Zealand.

But the Durban episode means South Africa is facing an unpleasant ulcer waiting explode.

Experts are not sure if the tightened security or any other tough sanctions may sort out the problem of violence that is plaguing South Africa’s rugby stadiums.

My suggestion would be for Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula to send a strong message to the country’s rugby unions, demanding an independent inquiry into the causes that contribute to a situation in which spectators execute illegal acts of violence.

Acts of violence in rugby matches should not be taken casually. In general, those who perpetrate acts of violence should be deemed worthy of serving time in prison.

It is now time to accept a special law on any violent sport supporter. There have been models that have worked wonders in other countries before.

I am told Britain has found a perfect stabiliser to stadium crowd violence. I was wondering what happened to hooliganism in what came to be known as the world’s capital of concerted violence by sports fans.

In Britain, I am told, entire families now attend soccer matches and soccer is ever growing.

However, take South Africa. Who will request one’s lover or wife to attend a rugby game? It’s just unsafe. As a black fan of rugby, I have never attended any rugby matches in South African stadiums.

I am told some racist white rugby supporters go crazy when they see black fans and none of the other supporters could calm them down.

Many incidents of racism at these games have been emblazoned on the front pages of South African newspapers before. It is sad that Mbalula and his cronies have failed to deal with this problem from the onset.

Some very real judgments have to be taken to nip violent cases - like the one that took place in Durban a fortnight ago - in the bud.

For instance, fans should only able to acquire tickets to rugby matches when they produce their identification papers.

Fines for bad conduct should be very stiff, and very daring escapades punishable with arrest of up to 30 days with a ban on attending sports competitions.

It is now time to deepen responsibility and expose crimes against the law and morality.

In conclusion, all clubs should take a decision to play in empty arenas, which should remain in force until matters have been put to rights.

Mzwandile Jacks is a freelance journalist. Views expressed are his own.

Disclaimer:
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    mzwandile jacks  |  rugby
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