APARTHEID APOLOGIST GARY PLAYER SHOULD STEP DOWN AS CAPTAIN OF THE GOLF TEAM TO BRAZIL OLYMPICS
GARY PLAYER USES MONEY AND PR TO BECOME ACCEPTABLE IN THE NEW NON-RACIAL AND DEMOCRATIC SOUTH AFRICABy Subry Govender
Gary Player was a golfing sensation and there's no doubt about that. He made good not only in South Afrca but also on the international circuits. But should he have been appointed the captain of the South African Golf Team to participate in the Olympic Games in Brazil.
Retired Judge Thumba Pillay, a veteran political activist who has expressed his opposition to Player's appointment, was alo involved in anti-apartheid golf and knew at first hand the goings-on in South African golf during the struggle years.
He knew that during the struggle period, Player never came out against apartheid sport but, in fact, had played a game or two with apartheid monster John Vorster. Vorster and his men were not only responsible for denying the chance to players like Papwa Sewgolum, Vincent Tshabalala and Daddy Naidoo but they were also responsible for banning an English cricket team, with Basil D'Oliviera as a player, from visiting South Africa.
Pillay is also fully aware of the deplorable incidents that took place in 1963 and 1965 when Papwa Sewgolum, after winning the Natal Open at the Durban Country Club, was presented his prize outside the club house in the rain. He beat Gary Player to win this tournament for the second time.
Papwa was not allowed into the club house because apartheid laws prohibited "non-whites" from entering a legacy of colonialism. "Non-whites" were only allowed as waiters, cleaners, and servants. Gary Player was there and he never spoke out at that time.
Pillay was also fully involved during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when anti-apartheid opponents in sport and politics came under the bloody hammer of the repressive forces at that time. Poor Gary Player who was enjoying the limelight of playing and winning international golf events at that time never came out to support the anti-apartheid struggle activists. He never bothered about Hassan Howa, M N Pather, Morgan Naidoo, Norman Middleton, Paul Devadas David, Shun David, R K Naidoo, M N Govender, D K Singh, George Singh, Don Kali, and hundreds of others who were banned, house-arrested, harrassed, persecuted and denied their passports.
Pillay knew that Gary Player in fact had supported right-wing organisations in England and other countries to support the cause of those involved in apartheid sport in South Africa.
THE UGLY SIDE
The ugly story of Gary Player also reminds me of an incident when I was on board an SAA plane, flying down from Johannesburg to Durban in the early 1970s. On board was a son of Gary Player and a host of British tourists.
Player's son got talking to the tourists and I became interested in what he had to tell the British tourists. He boasted about the "good life" in South Africa and spoke about the "boys" and "girls" and "obedient servants" who were working for his father and family.
To me it seemed this was the kind of language that was common in Player's home at that time.
But after 1994, Player quickly realised that circumstances had changed where the "boys" and "girls" and "servants" were now in control and he began to undergo a 360 degree attitude change. It was not out of any commitment to values and principles but because of political changes.
He was even able to use his "PR" personality to get Tata Nelson Mandela to acknowledge him as a great sportsman who did "a great deal for South Africa". Mandela had his reasons.
There are many people like Player who changed their costumes like Hollywood and Bollywood actors and actresses in order to continue to reap the benefits, this time in the new democratic era.
Player was also given new credibility when he was invited by some opportunists to join their development funds. He did not blink an eye-lid to join.
"Money" it seemed could buy anything.
Now the question about whether he should be the captain of the South African golf team for the Brazil Olympics? Like most people I believe that while we should "forgive and forget", I don't believe that Gary Player deserves this honour. This former apartheid apologist should not be given this benefit in our new non-racial and democratic South Africa.
The likes of Middleton, M N Pather, Hassan Howa, Morgan Naidoo, Cassim Bassa, Don Kali and others - whereever they are now - would not be pleased with this development in our post-apartheid South Africa. We owe it to our struggle stalwarts that people like Gary Player should be shown the red card. ends - subry govender Sept 3 2015