What was supposed to be a peaceful cycling race for a good cause ended up in a disciplinary hearing and a court case. This after Luthando Kaka, South Africa’s first black cyclist to race abroad professionally and to lead a cycling club, was called a k*ffir.
While taking part in the Dis-Chem Ride for Sight race in Boksburg last month, Kaka was verbally abused in a racist rant by fellow cyclists when he stood up for a young black cyclist, Siyabonga Somchiza, who had been forced off the road by Chris Jooste.
Jooste allegedly tried to run Somchiza off the road after he refused to go past him. Immediately after that, another cyclist, Dusty Day also hit Somchiza and pushed him completely off the road.
It was at this point that Kaka felt he had to intervene. He allegedly told Day to stop taking advantage of the young man and that his behaviour was unacceptable. This angered Day, who later called Kaka a k*ffir.
When Kaka told Day that he would report him to Cycling SA, the white cyclist told him that if he reported him, he would make Kaka’s life miserable.
Jooste and Day have been suspended by the cycling body.
Kaka’s lawyer, Themba Mthethwa, says the cycling body later also suspended his client.
“I can’t understand why [Kaka] was also suspended, which is why we decided to take the matter to the courts,” he says. Initially, when ordered by the court to lift Kaka’s suspension, Cycling SA refused to do so. The court ultimately forced them to lift the suspension.
The matter has now also been referred to the South African Police Service and the Human Rights Commission.
“The interesting part about the case is that the guy who was pushed by the other cyclist is a young boy from a township cycling club from Khayelitsha. So what they are basically saying is that township people shouldn’t participate in cycling races,” Mthethwa says.
He adds that a great deal of transformation is still needed to level the playing field in cycling.
Cycling SA says the case has been handed over to the disciplinary commission, pending the investigation of the incident. The investigation’s findings will apparently be released tomorrow.