TELFORD VICE, Hobart
FIRST came the crowd at the WACA, then Dean Jones, then Greg Ritchie, and now this: “Hashim Amla terrorist”.
Those were the words believed to have been daubed on a fence near the South African team’s dugout at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Saturday, the first day of the second test against Australia.
This ugliness can be added to the list of instances of racism that Australians have inflicted on South Africans in recent years.
Happily, swift action has been taken. The suspected culprit, a 24-year-old man from the farming town of Longford almost 200 kilometres to the north of Hobart, has been banned from attending any official cricket match in Australia for three years and been summonsed to appear in court.
“Tasmania Police identified the person of interest through CCTV and witnesses in the area,” A CA spokesperson told reporters.
“CA takes a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour at any of our matches, which includes racial vilification.
“Our message to any fan attending a match is that if you display anti-social behaviour you will be removed and risk being banned from any cricket match across Australia, as well as police action being taken.”
The South Africans seem to have been satisfied that enough has been done.
“We have been informed that the man has been formally charged and has been handed a three-year ban from the stadium,” team manager Mohammed Moosajee said.
“From our point of view it is disappointing and disconcerting because this is not the first act of racial vilification we have received while touring Australia over the years.
“It is unacceptable. There is absolutely no place for racial stereotyping and such offensive acts in society, let alone in sport.
“We thank CA and the authorities for dealing with the matter in a swift, professional and stern way and for carrying out the full might of the law.”
Former South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini will know just how Amla feels, having complained of racist abuse from the crowd at the WACA in Perth in December 2005.
Amla himself is no stranger to this kind of boorish behaviour. In August 2006 former Australian batsman Jones called him a “terrorist” while he thought he was off-air while working as a television commentator during South Africa’s tour to Sri Lanka. Jones was fired.
On South Africa’s last tour here in 2012-13, another former australian batsman, Ritchie, told Islamophobic and racist jokes in a speech at the Gabba to members of the Brisbane Cricket Ground.
Exposure of Ritchie’s racism in the press cost him his public speaking career.
The upside is that many Australians have offered their support and condemnation in the wake of these instances of uncivilised behaviour.
As one Aussie said of Ritchie four years ago, “Ah, mate, he’s just a bloody boofhead.”
Another offered this pithy observation: “Australians find it very difficult to be patriotic without being racist.”