Though he agrees with the right to free speech, and he feels it is important to have compassion for pain caused in the past, former Springbok prop Ollie le Roux says he does not support the Black Lives Matter movement.
While athletes and governing bodies in most sport codes had backed the BLM stand, which had swept the globe in recent months, there was controversy at the weekend after some South African players did not take a knee before English Premiership rugby matches.
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa said he had asked SA Rugby to address the matter, though he noted the players were wearing t-shirts which supported BLM.
“One must look at the values under which BLM started, and it’s a political venture, which I personally don’t like,” Le Roux, who played 54 Tests for the Boks between 1994 and 2002, said yesterday.
“But people’s freedom of speech should be respected, and in our constitution there’s room provided for the freedom of association.”
In reaction to the ongoing cry for an end to institutionalised racism, hundreds of current and former elite South African athletes and multiple national federations had voiced their support for BLM.
Le Roux, however, formed part of a fringe ‘All Lives Matter’ group which called for other allegedly marginalised groups to receive similar support.
Though government said it was still attempting to balance the playing field and provide equal opportunity, 30 years after apartheid rule was abolished, Le Roux claimed white South Africans had also been targeted in some areas, insisting there was pain caused on all sides.
“I think a discussion must be held to fully understand the black pain, but the other side of the coin is the farm murders which have caused a lot of white pain, and the Anglo Boer War (between 1899 and 1902) where houses were burned down,” Le Roux said.
“If we can get to the point where we can understand one another’s pain and suffering, then there will be a lot more compassion.”
While transformation was an ongoing concern in SA sport, according to an independent government body which was monitoring its progress, Le Roux felt the BLM movement threatened to cause further division.
“I think BLM is burning more bridges than what it builds,” he said.
“I think everyone has the right to express their views, but I think we must agree that all lives matter while having compassion all-round for other races and their pain of the past.”
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.