Se­folosha’s fight for jus­tice pays off

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NJAB­ULO NGIDI

THE story of how Thabo Se­folosha missed the NBA’s first match be­tween Team Africa and Team World two years ago in Jo­han­nes­burg is that of tragedy but he tri­umphed none­the­less.

Se­folosha’s in­clu­sion to Team Africa would have been a no-brainer. With a South African fa­ther and rel­a­tives in Mamelodi, he would have been play­ing a match at “home” for the first time in his pro­fes­sional ca­reer. But an act of po­lice bru­tal­ity robbed him of that op­por­tu­nity. It prob­a­bly also de­nied his team, then At­lanta Hawks, of a ti­tle run as they were cruis­ing in the Eastern Con­fer­ence. After a stab­bing in a club that Se­folosha and his team­mates were at in April of 2015, the po­lice shut it down.

As they evac­u­ated it, five of them vi­o­lently forced Se­folosha on the ground. He broke his leg and ended his sea­son. The po­lice claimed that he didn’t co- op­er­ate de­spite video ev­i­dence show­ing oth­er­wise. They ar­rested him for dis­or­derly con­duct, re­sist­ing ar­rest, and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice. An in­censed Se­folosha re­jected a num­ber of plea deals, and took on the sys­tem. He won and the city of New York paid him $4-mil­lion (just over R53-mil­lion) to set­tle the law­suit.

“I learned from the whole sit­u­a­tion and ev­ery­thing that hap­pened,” Se­folosha said at Tick­et­pro Dome yes­ter­day, the venue of this af­ter­noon’s match. “But I think that it showed who I am more than it shap­ing me”

Se­folosha con­tin­ued, “I de­cided to take on the sys- tem be­cause it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t do any­thing. For them to la­bel me and put charges on me, it wasn’t right. You hear about it (po­lice bru­tal­ity) a lot. Things have to change. But there is a lot of im­prove­ment to be made.”

Se­folosha’s case caught global at­ten­tion due to his sta­tus and wide- rang­ing po­lice bru­tal­ity in the USA that has re­sulted in a num­ber of black peo­ple be­ing killed and the per­pe­tra­tors in uni­form walk­ing free. The 33-year-old’s up­bring­ing spurred him to fight. As a son of a black man, Pa­trick from Pre­to­ria, and a white lady, Cris­tine from Switzer­land, he would have been born a crime in 1984 had his par­ents not fled apartheid South Africa.

Se­folosha is glad that the whole or­deal is in the past as he has a lot to look for­ward to. He has a new home in the form of Utah Jazz. But this af­ter­noon he will fi­nally lead Team Africa against Team World at “home”.

“This is spe­cial,” he said. “I am look­ing for­ward to be­ing in front of a South African crowd and play­ing a great game. It’s go­ing to be great fun.”

Thabo Se­folosha

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