South Africans can't believe it; and won't believe it
By M.S. Prabhakara
CAPE TOWN, APRIL 7. If the reaction in a radio talk show this afternoon is
any guide, the India-South Africa relations, and perhaps even this
country's relations with Australia, may be in for a rough time.
The bombshell from Delhi hit the country a little before 1 p.m. The radio
news programme, One'o Clock Live broadcast at 1 p.m. during weekdays, led
with the news that the Delhi police had issued an arrest warrant against
Hansi Cronje, captain of the South African team, and had indeed already
arrested a non- resident Indian on charges of being involved in illegal
match fixing. (The news broadcast at 2 p.m. reported that arrest warrants
had been issued against four South African players, three of whom are in
the team selected to play Australia.)
The boss of South African cricket, Ali Bacher, and Hansi Cronje had denied
the charges, the news anchor said. However, though the practice of
carrying live interviews on the radio are deeply entrenched and is indeed
a routine feature even in respect of insignificant developments, neither
Cronje nor Bacher was put on the air.
The half-hour talk show devoted entirely to sports on Fridays followed at
1.30 p.m., and not surprisingly, was entirely devoted to this news.
Virtually every caller spluttered with rage that such a thing (`a load of
bull', `a load of garbage' and the like) could at all be said about Hansi
of all persons, an icon of South African sports if ever there was one.
Rather more interesting was the seeking after the `motive' and the
`source' behind such a sacrilegious suggestions.
Leading the list of villains was mysterious forces in India (`you know
their pedigree', said a caller, though another admitted that India, having
won the ODI series, had no reason to plant such a story), closely followed
by conspirators from Australia, out to demoralise South Africans before
the three- match one day Internationals due to be played in this country
from next week.
One caller suggested that the Ambassador of India should be summoned to
explain the conduct of the Delhi police. Another, taking recourse to
physiognomy, said that even a casual look at Hansi's face when he was
losing should convince anyone that he would never ever throw a game, not
for money, nor for love, not for anything.
Central to all these perceptions, plainly articulated by one caller, is
the deeply held conviction that unlike others South Africans always played
for pride, never for money. They are beyond temptation of even the biggest
In the exceptionalist perception of themselves cherished by South Africans
across race, class, gender and other barriers, they are not like anyone
else in the world. Others might engage in such grubby activities like
match fixing; but not our boys.
The reality in this country, with its history of theft and greed and
organised dispossession of the majority of the people even unto their very
identity and citizenship, is that anything that is not bolted and riveted
down gets stolen, as Mr. Ken Owen noted in a recent column.
Such rage, with so few facts yet available, suggests that the sports
loving people of this country are perhaps protesting too much, too soon.