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Boucher’s dropped charges: like everything in SA, it’s ...


Boucher’s dropped charges: like everything in SA, it’s complicated

We need to examine what this incident and the exoneration of racism-accused Brackenfell High really say about SA


Imagine you are accused of being a racist. You are a public figure and the racism accusation takes off like an uncontrolled wildfire across all media - social, print, web and broadcast. The accusation becomes fact in the public mind before you can down your morning coffee. Wherever you go, you feel like the word “racist” is branded onto your body with a capital “R” like they do with cattle on farms. Your personal and family life is ruined, and it seems your professional life is about to go under as well.

Your name is Mark Boucher, the national cricket coach, and the charges are brought by one of the most administratively inept organisations in the history of sport, Cricket SA (CSA). More than a year later, CSA announces that “there is no basis to sustain any of the disciplinary charges, including charges of racism” and that the board has “formally and unreservedly withdrawn all of the charges”. The main reason for the withdrawal seems to be that cricket player Paul Adams decided not to testify against his former teammate whom he accused, with others, of singing derogatory racist songs about coloured cricketers like himself in the dressing room during their playing days. Regardless, the damage is done.

Now imagine you are a public school. Somebody charges the school with organising a whites-only matric ball in 2020 and, with images posted all over social media, a feeding frenzy results. The school is racist, shouted black pupils on the inside and political activists on the outside. Ever the opportunist, the EFF marches on Brackenfell High School a few times, creating a tinderbox of racial tension at the gates. The courts prevent the school from interdicting the EFF from protesting near the school. “Fists fly,” read the title of a disturbing YouTube video as black protesters and white parents climbed over each other...

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