Bring back the death penalty? Kallis should let those who are better qualified speak for the collective of the country

2013-01-18 00:00

WHENEVER I bested my mom or siblings in a debate, I was always reminded about my strengths and weaknesses and the issues I should debate about.

It was often a sick feeling for me, which bordered on intimidation. I found my intelligence counted for nothing when my age and size were against me.

Fortunately, the value of real debate was never lost on them and it was a way for them to ensure that I didn’t retreat from my opinions, but rather that I walked away with more knowledge rather than with petulant rejection and the mandatory throwing of toys out of the cot.

The death of a prominent figure can stir the best and worst of emotions, but in the maelstrom of warped thinking, the ability to keep calm and think rational thoughts is of the greatest importance.

When I heard about the brutal murder of John E. Commins while I was covering the New Year’s Test against New Zealand in Cape Town, the first thing that went through my mind was a picture of the sturdy and successful Western Province number three whose international career was limited to just three Tests.

I later found out that he was the father of Donne Commins, who is an excellent player agent, and that it was his uncle who had also donned the blue cap.

But what was really interesting was Jacques Kallis’s tweet about crime, which reads: “Thoughts and prayers with @DonneCommins and family. Something really has to be done about the crime in this country #deathpenalty.”

I thought it to be a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking but equally double-sided message as to how selective sports personalities and society can be. I couldn’t agree more with the South Africa Cricket Magazine when it once said our cricket would have been well and truly stuffed if it hadn’t have been for him. The ambiguity of his tweet hit home to me in more ways than one.

Losing a parent or a family member to a violent crime is not something I would wish on the worst of my enemies, not that I have many.

Crime is a very sensitive matter and one our government has yet to find a way to deal with, but as a cricketer the last thing you want to shout about is the death penalty in a country where the same modus operandi was used to exterminate opponents of the apartheid regime.

With the police system dysfunctional, hamstringing an overburdened criminal justice system, there would be many cases of the innocent going to the gallows, and it goes against the basic constitutional right to life.

I admire Kallis’s guts in tackling an issue that is getting less and less attention

Cape Town does harbour the most vicious gangs in the country and is home to the most dangerous township in the country, Nyanga. I neither heard nor read anything about that; nor did I hear any complaints about the racial composition of the team he plays for.

When Solly Tyibilika, a professional of the same standing, was shot in cold blood in Cape Town, the silence was deafening.

There are players of colour, but the issue of full representation and equal opportunity is the skunk smell that will refuse to go away.

That is for another day.

Kallis is South Africa’s greatest cricketer and replacing him would be a monumental task, but for now he should let those who are more qualified to deal with the country’s social issues handle and speak for the collective of the country, not for a minority group.

Just as they don’t prescribe how he should bat, bowl and field, Kallis should do the same.

It’s called respect.

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