Skipper defends Vernon’s tweet

2013-02-14 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South African captain Graeme Smith yesterday defended opening bowler Vernon Philander’s right to call for the reintroduction of the death penalty in South Africa.

Responding to public outrage at a spate of rapes and murders, including one in the small Western Cape town of Bredasdorp, Philander tweeted: “Sickening to hear all the rape-murder cases taking place at the moment. Bring back the death penalty and see how these numbers drop.”

The Proteas captain said: “Grown men have opinions on different matters in life.

“We spend a lot of time together so many things are discussed.

“There has been a lot of campaigning around rape and murder and sorting out the crime in South Africa.

“As role models in South Africa, we want to be a part of putting that right.

“Obviously Vernon needs to chat about his opinion, but all of us know our responsibility.

“There are regulations from ICC [International Cricket Council] and CSA [Cricket South Africa].

“We know we can’t speak on DRS [decision review system] or umpiring, but when it comes to guys’ opinions on life, their future and their families and what they believe in, in the country, I don’t see a problem.”

Smith, meanwhile, voiced his sympathy for nine first-team cricketers from King Edward VII School in Johannesburg, his old school, who were victims of a lightning strike on Tuesday.

Five of the boys were kept in hospital overnight and two were reported to be in a critical condition.

“I grew up in Johannesburg and I know how lightning can be a scary thing,” said Smith.

“I have a relationship with the school and the first cricket side was something I played a part in for a long time.

“I will keep in touch and find out what is going on and maybe try to visit the guys when we go to Johannesburg.”

The boys were pulling a cover on to a pitch when lightning struck the field.

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