DA opposes murderer in Pumas team

The Democratic Alliance has lambasted the Mpumalanga Rugby Union (MRU) for including a convicted murderer in the Vodacom Pumas rugby team.

It is a “tragedy” that the leadership of the MRU is “unable to see just how wholly inappropriate its decision” to include Gert van Schalkwyk (22)—one of the infamous “Waterkloof Four”—in the starting line-up for the provincial team, DA spokesperson Donald Lee said on Thursday.

Rugby is a high-profile sport in South Africa, and its players—like so many other sportspeople—are considered role models by fans throughout the country, both young and old.

“The MRU’s decision to include in the Pumas side a man who has been convicted and sentenced for his role in kicking, stabbing and beating a homeless man to death thus sends a worrying message to the public and to sports fans alike about the kind of men that we are encouraging them to look up to,” Lee said.

The DA strongly opposes politicisation of sports in South Africa, and has always maintained that political interests should play no part in the selection of teams at representative level.

However, decisions like these make sporting codes vulnerable to government intervention, in this instance with some justification.

“We therefore call upon the MRU and its president, Hein Mentz, to demonstrate the union’s prudence and ability to act rationally by making a public commitment to the effect that Van Schalkwyk will not be allowed to play in any future matches for the Mpumalanga side,” he said.

Christoff Becker, Frikkie du Preez, Van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt are waiting for a court appearance to hear an appeal against their conviction.—Sapa

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