Matthew The­unis­sen’s let­ter of apol­ogy

CityPress - - Sport -

On May 2 2016, I made a state­ment on my Face­book pro­file which has im­pacted my life and, more im­por­tantly, caused great pain and in­sult to many peo­ple. I hereby ten­der my un­con­di­tional apol­ogy for my be­hav­iour, choice of lan­guage, racist re­marks and man­ner in which I com­mu­ni­cated my feel­ings at the time. To Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula: Min­is­ter, you have made count­less ef­forts and strides in the depart­ment of sport and re­cre­ation to unify South Africa and to up­hold con­sti­tu­tional val­ues that seek to make South Africa the great na­tion that it is. I have no doubt that my state­ment was of­fen­sive and would, de­spite your po­si­tion, have caused you per­sonal pain. There is no ex­cuse for me us­ing the lan­guage that I did and I can only avail my­self to you, your mercy and di­rec­tion as to how I can be­gin to make right the dam­age I caused you. To the peo­ple of South Africa: We have en­dured so much as a coun­try and na­tion that has a rich his­tory of strug­gles and strife, as well as ac­com­pa­ny­ing vic­to­ries and mir­a­cles. South Africa has pros­pered much from the sac­ri­fice of many who have sought to bring to re­al­ity the dream that once ex­isted of a free and equal coun­try, and which dream still holds the at­ten­tion of mil­lions to­day. My words did noth­ing to help nur­ture that dream that South Africans hold dear. In a few sin­gle words, I un­doubt­edly opened up wounds, cre­ated new pain and fed the flames of frus­tra­tion and hate. I am deeply sorry for be­ing an ob­sta­cle to unity and ask that you for­give me. To the Govern­ment of South Africa: Re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion or be­lief, my con­duct is in­ex­cus­able and my state­ments about you are un­founded. I have no idea what it takes to run a coun­try, let alone take peo­ple from an apartheid regime to free­dom. My thoughts are at­trib­uted to a deep lack of un­der­stand­ing and my state­ment was not only dis­taste­ful, but bla­tantly dis­re­spect­ful. I sin­cerely apol­o­gise.

To my fam­ily and friends:

I have been sur­rounded by good­ness and love my en­tire life, which is what makes my be­hav­iour a more dif­fi­cult re­al­ity for you to have en­dured.

What­ever my past ac­com­plish­ments may have been, my re­cent so­cial-me­dia state­ment, which has stormed the minds and hearts of South Africans, has clearly un­rav­elled the im­pact that your pos­i­tive in­flu­ence has made in my life.

I have dis­ap­pointed you and caused hurt that will take a long time to heal. I am deeply sorry and ask that you for­give me. I made the state­ment at the time out of anger and with­out re­straint. While I had made at­tempts to re­move the post once I had calmed down, the dam­age had clearly been done.

In spite of my aca­demic ed­u­ca­tion, there are clearly lessons to be learnt in life that can­not be de­rived from a text­book. I con­sider this to be one of the most valu­able lessons to have learnt and while hav­ing to en­dure the hate and anger from so many peo­ple, can only pray that there will be an op­por­tu­nity af­forded to me one day to make a pos­i­tive im­pact and to prove to many that I am not a hate­ful or in­her­ently “evil” per­son.

I do not con­sider my­self to be a racist, but my words would re­cently dic­tate oth­er­wise. This ex­pe­ri­ence has caused me to take a deep look within me and to re­alise that, in spite of the dam­age caused by me, I can still choose to be an in­flu­ence for the good of South Africa.

I have fur­ther­more learnt the im­por­tant les­son that peo­ple will be quick to judge me by my “ac­tions” when I’ve ex­pected them to judge me by my “in­ten­tions”. The two ideas are not nec­es­sar­ily ex­clu­sive and my ac­tions, hav­ing learnt the hard way, need to fol­low my in­ten­tions.

In con­clu­sion, my words used and the state­ment made by me on Face­book on May 2 2016 is, with­out ex­cuse, sim­ply un­ac­cept­able. I can­not overem­pha­sise the re­gret that I have for hav­ing done so and re­alise that there will be, at least in the near fu­ture, no pos­si­ble way for my words used in this apol­ogy to con­vince you of my sin­cer­ity. I will, how­ever, strive to make ev­ery ef­fort to show you that this apol­ogy is not with­out sub­stance and I will take ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to make amends.

My con­duct is in­ex­cus­able and my state­ments about you are un­founded MATTHEW THE­UNIS­SEN

PHOTO: CHARLES LOM­BARD / GALLO IM­AGES

PEEVED Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula

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