Defend Truth


Standing to account: Why Quinton de Kock shouldn’t be allowed to ‘keep it to himself’


On Friday a week ago, Quinton de Kock scored a masterful 141, contributing to the Proteas’ commanding position, and ultimate victory, in the first Test against the West Indies. After a difficult spell, this innings goes some way to answering his critics. But De Kock, the former Proteas captain and a leader in the team, has other questions to answer.

Jon Hunter-Parsonage is a PhD student at the University of Bristol.

On Thursday, at the start of play, every player involved in the Test took some action in support of the need for racial justice in the world. 

Every player, barring De Kock

Over the past 18 months, South African cricket has in many senses been flailing in the dark. From administrative disasters and missteps to a men’s team that is struggling to match up to past triumphs, to policies on social justice that have vacillated between a wholehearted embrace of calls for racial and social justice and policies that have forbidden players from showing the support that they would like.

For the first Test against the West Indies, in Saint Lucia, the Protea men’s players were allowed to make the gesture that they felt comfortable with in relation to the calls for racial and social justice. The players insist that despite the different actions, the team is not divided

But has De Kock’s lack of action indicated the extent of his support (or lack thereof) for the claims that so many are making in support of calls for racial and social justice? We do not actually know, since De Kock – faced with an option to support racial and social justice, and an opportunity to explain his stance – chose to do neither; not taking action and not explaining, saying only “I will keep it to myself. It’s my personal opinion”

De Kock did speak at length about his convictions, including rhino conservation. So, what is clear is that De Kock’s objection is not to combining sport and politics, but to the kind of politics in question. 

Freedom of opinion

There is much to be said for the idea that the players can take the action that they want to. They do, after all, enjoy the constitutional right to freedom of belief and opinion like the rest of us. 

In one sense, people should not be compelled to do something they are uncomfortable with. In another, perhaps as white people we should feel uncomfortable enough to act in face of the calls for racial justice implicating the patterns of privilege that shape today’s world, that benefit white people and white men in particular. And acknowledging, admitting and addressing this discomfort is important. Ignoring it is arguably part of what produces or allows systems racism to continue. 

But whatever stage they are at, people should take responsibility for their stances, for the actions they choose to take in the face of racial and social injustice in South Africa and the world. This requires, at the very least, openly engaging on these issues, especially when you are a leader and role model for so many others.

Over the past few years calls for racial and social justice have been present in a number of areas of society, including sport. 

Prominent figures from across the sporting world have bravely raised issues of social justice, including South Africa’s Lungi Ngidi, Siya Kolisi and Makhaya Ntini, as well as Marcus Rashford, Naomi Osaka, Lewis Hamilton, NBA players and WNBA teams and players (among many others in South Africa and internationally).

Makazole Mapimpi, for example, risked censure from the Springboks when he decided he could not stay silent about gender violence in South Africa, and commemorated Uyinene Mrwetyana in a match against Japan – something memorably recited by Mapimpi and Rassie Erasmus in the documentary Chasing the Sun. These people – overwhelmingly black – have been outspoken proponents of the need for the world in which we live to be just, for the patterns of injustice to be broken, and for the dismantling of racism wherever it is found – in the sporting world and elsewhere. 

In response, they have been subject to ridicule and abuse, from government leaders down to social media trolls. Teams and players have been booed. All of this indicates something foul at work in our world. Booing calls for racial justice? 


Does it make people uncomfortable?

Much about this needs to change. And one of these things is that it should not be the people who are arguing for greater justice in the world, many of whom already bear a significant and inequitable burden, who need to justify their actions (although they continue to do so, a testament to them). It is the people who decide to take no action who need to justify their actions. It is people who, when given a choice, choose not to act.

It is people like De Kock. 

While De Kock, in his refusal to speak, has spoken volumes, he should be held accountable for more by the game. He should be held accountable by the leaders of the game in South Africa, by Proteas fans and by cricket writers.

Will be held to account by the Proteas team leadership? The identity of some of these leaders, and their own history, is important. 

Accountability and leadership

Amid the ongoing administrative disaster that constitutes Cricket South Africa, two high-profile people who hold significant power and influence, certainly in relation to the men’s team, are Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher. These men have expressed their rhetorical support for calls for racial and social justice. Indeed, Smith has knelt in support of greater racial and social justice in the world. And their actions in relation to De Kock need to reflect their commitment. 

Though we are not merely the sum of our pasts, the role that these men played in the experiences of Ntini and so many other players of colour, in their feeling of alienation and exclusion from the Proteas team, is pertinent. These two men need to show their commitment to the justice that they have expressed support for. They need to be accountable, and to hold the players accountable. 

Breaking down barriers that have ruined lives, that continue to ruin lives, is not some game. But the games we play can play a role in these battles, sports stars included. If we believe in accountability (and, goodness knows, many people in South Africa who do not support calls for racial and social justice love to talk about accountability, emphasising what they appear to think is a lack of accountability that only appeared in post-1994 South Africa – an outrageous position, on so many levels), we should hold all of our public figures to account for their actions, particularly sports stars, for what they do on the field. 

Interestingly, around the world, some sports stars and teams have not chosen to kneel, and have provided clear reasons – including that they view kneeling as an empty gesture, and are committed to structural reform. The Scottish football team was one of these, opting to “stand against racism”. This week, they reaffirmed their commitment to racial and social justice, with their captain, Andy Robertson, saying they will “kneel against ignorance and in solidarity”. The need for accountability and transparency was answered by the Scottish team. 

Sport in South Africa has played a significant role in perpetuating the privilege and priority given to white people in the country. Many argue it still does. Seeing the influential cricketers of today take steps to address ongoing racial injustice, symbolically and, hopefully, through other, off-field actions, is an important step. De Kock, and other players who chose not to take steps, should at the very least bear the same onus as the sports stars who have knelt and stood up for social justice, in South Africa and elsewhere. De Kock, and those like him, including many of South Africa’s rugby players, must be accountable for their actions. DM/MC


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  • Coen Gous says:

    So this student, from Bristol England nogal (as if it is some some kind of yet another British title, such as Lord (bestowed to only ONE), prince, sir or only God knows how many titles they have, as it the title give them the right to be a superior human being, especially coming from a country that introduced colonialism to the world, and in the process, destroyed it) has suddenly became the expert in what individuals should and should not do, especially in South Africa. At the time of writing this comment, I have no idea of whom this student is. Is he South African? Or is he British?
    Now lets get back to facts, mr. wanabee Lord of Bristol. Where did it all start? I followed this on live TV , right from the beginning.
    BLF started because some idiot of a White policeman MURDERED a black civilian in the US. Nothing new, because in that racist country, the biggest on the planet, amplified by a dictatorship of a President, filthy rich, filthy womaniser, white policemen kill Black civilians virtually everyday. But this one was different. George Floyd was killed in full view of TV cameras, and the black populatilon reacted. This became the biggest protest in American history, and the BLM movement started, and then, because of massive TV coverage, moved all over the world, and rightly so. An the so called knee bending thing started. But here in little South Africa, with virtually nobody in the country knowing anything about George Floyd, suddenly got embroiled in this thing.

    • Brendan Daly says:

      Well said Coen. Can we not just let our sportsman make their own constitutional choice and respect that? We cannot even hold our politicians and leaders to account over criminal acts and yet we want to impose ourselves on our sports stars. This sort of drivel is uncalled for DM.

    • Coen Gous says:

      Sportman, such as Quinton de Kock, had to decide whether he should take the knee or not. He decided against it for personal reasons, Personal, to do with racism or the like. Each member of the team, after team meetings had to decide for themselves what to do, on a matter that happened in the US, when the clown Trump was still in charge. So what is the story here in SA.
      Simply check the statististics. More Black civilians are killed (or murdered if you wish) in South Africa by Black police officers than Blacks killed by Whites (police or no police) in the US.. So now what? As the knee thing applies White to Black, what if it is Black to Black. A new slogan? Like BLMTSB (Black lives matter to some blacks), and because the knee down is already taken by BLF, lets create a new one, like lying on your back kicking your legs.
      Mr. student, sir, lord, or whatever you want to be called, you have no idea what social justice is. In fact, whilst we at it, ask your darn Queen, future King, Current Prince, Future Prince or whatever, why the did they not bend the knee when a beautiful, charming girl named Megan married a prince nogal, called Harry. No, they rediculed her, insulted her. Why? Because she is Black. In fact actually only something like a quarter black. But, according to the British, you, thats OK, but South African cricketers mjust bend a knee when whites in this country are a mere 10% of the population. But when a white person gets killed by a black person on a farm (or anywhere else), million of Blacks celebrate (EFF and BLF), and cheered along. It is called social justice
      Mr Wannabee student of Bristol, I really don’t care whom you are, what shit you talk, or what title you have. But to me, just me, you are just a in nobody who want to create fame for himself, not knowing a what social justice means in the first place
      I applaud Quinton, as I applaud Kagiso, Lungi, Rassie, Dean and all the others, plead with you not to get caught up in the vicious world of politics. Have your believes, like any other human being on this planet, but that should be a private thing. You are representingv my country, your country…our country. That is incredible. And I for one, admire you, salute you, whether to run, swim, …or bend the knee or nor. The action of that is not what is important, it is what you think….that is what is important

      • jcdville stormers says:

        Agree totally,this is the wokeness kak that is stuffing up the world.The proteas have sorted themselves out.Individual choices are respected,while staying unified as a team.When you are not allowed to express yourself in a way that echoes your opinion,it becomes slavery to wokeness(the biggest lot of kak )Wokeness is fifo psychology, see things our way or we will harass you till you conform to how we see things.Sport builds bridges,but sport must be sport,politicizing sport takes the sport out of sport.

        • sally pickering says:

          I totally agree with you Jcdville. ‘Wokeness kak’ – great description! Never mix murky politics with good clean sport.

  • John Buchan says:

    Never argue with a woke: their opinion and law is as sacred and on par with Newton’s third. There are a million reasons, none of which make sense that we should all blindly follow their ideals and at the slightest disagreement, un-wokes are then cancelled, immediately labelled racist or homophobic (their go to or default insults) and many, many more. When confronted with truly dedicated wokes, my suggestion would be to merely smile and wave politely.

  • Johan says:

    Stop bullying De Kock.

  • Darrin McComb says:

    Mr Hunter-Parsonage, I think the thing you are failing to realise is that QDK is intentionally making a statement as well as highlighting the “Trial by Media” problem faced by so many people in the spotlight these days. The South African context differs significantly from the world context in that we have come from a period of atrocious racism in apartheid only to usher in exactly the same through our Employment Equity and Black Economic Empowerment laws that are prevalent in the work place which will be re-enforced in society with George Orwellian anti-discrimination laws in the pipeline. These laws not only discriminate directly against white people but also people of colour ! The laws propagate discrimination not eliminate them!

    It would not surprise me if QDK’s W was in fact a signal that “White Lives Matter As Well” but that the Rhino conservation he is talking about is the White Rhino which is steadily becoming instinct in South African population. While we are at it, I would love a set of laws passed where journalists could be held to the same sanction as they propose for the people they harass unfairly through the media. Freedom of expression takes many forms with silence being one of them. A lesson Mr Hunter-Parsonage would be well served to re-familiarise himself with before he picks up the pitchfork and joins the angry mob.

    • Charles Parr says:

      Well said.

    • jcdville stormers says:

      Point in case is Naomi Osaka,the tennis player she was there to play tennis and nothing else.The proteas are actually there to play cricket.Why must every sportsman of note be dragged into things outside there sphere.Point in case Billy Vunipola,he stated he will not bend the knee,as it goes against his Christian belief.

  • Charles Parr says:

    Let’s let it be. If anyone wants to herd us they’ll find it like herding cats. Impossible. And Coen, it’s not good at our age to let our blood pressure get so high. (Sorry, I can’t do a smiley face here)


    How on earth did this article by a woke UK University student get published here in South Africa? Castigate Quinton if he actually does something racist, not because you think he’s racist. Stick to your beliefs Quinton. By the way, wonderful century – watched every ball. Isn’t that what Quinton is in the Windies For!

  • Sara Gon says:

    The writer is imbued with the false notion that support for ‘Black Lives Matter’ is support for justice and equality. People may argue that it’s support for the idea, not the movement. They’re fooling themselves: the slogan is the movement and the movement is illiberal and totalitarian.

    Ngidi should find a way to distinguish his support for an idea from a very controversial movement. Make no mistake, in the current climate a white player is very brave not to support a political statement, even if supposedly they had a choice.

    The situation in South Africa is way too complex and nuanced to, one and a half years later, continue taking the knee in supplication. If fans had been let into stadiums I have no doubt the gesture would have ended because many will feel alienated or disagree with whatever it is the players are signalling. And it won’t be because the fans racist but because they are offended by the woke implications.

    • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

      Well said Sara.

    • Zavier Haddad says:

      Yeah, have to agree with Sara on this. The whole opinion piece is built on the mentioned false premise. Perhaps QDK is in disagreement with one of the other things they stand for or perhaps he was persuaded that he couldn’t support some of the racist things their leaders have said about white people or “whiteness”. Anyhow its for him to decide to share his reasons or not. Its all a bit Orwellian for me.

  • John Bestwick says:

    What a plonker. And i mean this saintly author.

  • John Cartwright says:

    Gosh, the young man has certainly pushed some sensitive buttons!
    Do black lives matter, or don’t they?

  • Abel Appel says:

    I agree fully. Quinton de Kock was way out of line. in our country, which is as divided as ever, prominent personalities such as Quinton de Kock, must take a stand for justice and condemn racism unequivocally. If he does not then he cannot be part of the National team.

  • John Cowing says:

    Good for you Quinten De Kock, that’s why you are who you are, a talented cricket with an attitude, who is Jon Hunter Bollocks anyway, tosser

  • Johannes Nel says:

    Thanks to biased and small minded journalists such as the author of this article and the pathetic puppets who support the BLM movement on the sports field I no longer watch or support any rugby or cricket. This saves me many hours of precious time and a substantial amount of money. I will always be grateful to BLM and the weak-kneed BLM supporters.

    • Coen Gous says:

      Johannes, understand your sentiments. But to me, the last year and a half has been the emptiest since I was 4 years old. I guess you do support soccer, even the national team, who loose more games than the tiny country of Liechtenstein with a population of 37,000

  • Alan Paterson says:

    OK Jon, I do actually agree Black Lives Matter. But do LGBTQI Lives Matter? Uyghur Lives Matter? Rohingya Lives Matter? Possibly (unlikely) White Lives Matter? Or do they all matter less than Black Lives Matter? Probably, otherwise taking the knee would then not suffice and all sportsmen (sorry sportspersons) would have to contort like pretzels before each game. Better maybe to have a small symbolic statue (representative of BLGBTQIUR Lives Matter) to topple before the event? Oops, forgot, statue toppling is so last year. Jon, PhD student, may I ask your subject? Advanced wokeness? So many questions, so many acronyms.

  • Malcolm Mitchell says:

    Another foreign person with a chip on his shoulder. Keep politics out of sport! Also why does describe himself as a PhD student? Perhaps an inferiority complex since there is nothing about having a doctorate which gives him the right or even knowledge to shoot his mouth off about SA sportsmen. I know that doctorates only show that you know a lot about very little, as I have two doctorates.

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