Another incident of referee abuse took place on the weekend in Daniëlskuil, but this time the abuse turned from verbal to physical.
LAST week, the DFA reported on a senior Northern Cape referee that decided to hang up his boots after 20 years of officiating due to the constant, personal and oftentimes vulgar verbal abuse he had to endure on and off of the field.
That referee noted that he was not the only match official that had to endure such abuse.
Now, as if on cue, another incident of referee abuse took place on the weekend in Daniëlskuil, but this time the abuse turned from verbal to physical.
The assault was so bad, in fact, that the referee that was attacked had to be taken to the hospital.
During a rugby match that was part of the Northern Cape Department of Education’s school sports calendar, Daniëlskuil High School and Kathu High School locked horns in Daniëlskuil on Saturday.
Tempers ran high during the game to such a degree that a teacher from Daniëlskuil High School, Christo Kemp – who was appointed by the Van Druten Refereeing Association to handle the game – as well as a referee from the Griqualand West Refereeing Association, Fires van Vuuren, were assaulted after the match by a mob that allegedly included an assistant coach, several parents and two pupils from Daniëlskuil High School.
According to reports, after the assault, the officials had to be locked in a room by security officials as they had received death threats from the mob. It was only after the crowd eventually dispersed that the security officials escorted Kemp home to collect some clothes before he was taken to hospital to be treated for injuries and received further attention for trauma.
A person close to Kemp, who wished to remain anonymous, told the DFA that the young referee has made it clear that he will not pick up a whistle to officiate a rugby match any time soon … if ever.
The source said it seems obvious that what happened on that day has scared a “soft-spoken, kind, and gentle human being”. By all appearances, Kemp is both emotionally and physically scarred by what happened.
The source also told the DFA that what makes the incident even worse, is the fact that two of the players that allegedly took part in the assault on the match officials are both in one of Kemp’s classes.
A video that was taken of the incident has been widely circulated on social media and seems to show the assistant coach taking a swing at Kemp and then two parents also getting involved in the assault on the referee.
The Northern Cape Department of Education was quick to condemn the incident. Department spokesperson Sydney Stander said they were looking into the matter.
“We are aware of the incident that took place on Saturday during a game between the two schools and confirm that Christo Kemp is a teacher at Daniëlskuil High School and that all the school’s home games have been suspended pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing,” said Stander.
He added that a preliminary report indicates that supporters from Daniëlskuil High School were dissatisfied with how Kemp handled the match and that after the game all hell broke loose when a parent apparently chased and cornered him at the far side of the field, after which the assistant coach allegedly attacked Kemp. Two parents then also apparently got involved and allegedly assaulted Kemp.
Van Vuuren, the Griqualand West referee who was due to officiate in another match, rushed to Kemp’s aid and he was also attacked. In the video, it can be seen how the assailants turn on Van Vuuren as he tries to shield Kemp from the attack.
Van Vuuren spoke to the DFA on Monday, saying that as far as he is concerned, what happened on Saturday was an embarrassment to the game of rugby and a direct attack on the institution of refereeing.
“We receive constant criticism and vulgar heckling on and off the field,” Van Vuuren told the DFA. “Some of us, like myself, have thick skins and can handle a lot of the heckling. But for others, when they walk off the field, they are emotionally drained.”
He further said that many parents, pupils, spectators and even teaching staff have no respect for officials during matches.
He also mentioned that earlier on Saturday he had been excited because he was scheduled to referee the final game of the day involving the Under-17 teams.
“My son was supposed to play in that game and I was going to officiate that game. I felt so proud to be able to blow a game where my son was going to play in, but that did not happen,” said a visibly disappointed Van Vuuren.
Stander, meanwhile, said in a statement that it is alleged that two Under-15 rugby players from Danielskuil High School were involved in the assault on the referees.
In the video, two pupils from Danielskuil High School can be seen kicking the officials, while pupils from Kathu High School can be seen coming to the aid of the officials and escorting them from the field.
According to Stander, the Rugby Association is waiting to receive all the necessary reports, after which the culprits will be subjected to a disciplinary hearing and appear before the Griqualand West Rugby Union.
“The position of the Northern Cape Department of Education is that this behaviour by parents and pupils is absolutely unacceptable. There is no place for this in schools rugby. We are of the opinion that Mr Kemp should file a case with the police so that the accused are held fully responsible.”
The department called on the school and authorities to identify the pupils on the video so that disciplinary measures can be applied as soon as possible.
Van Vuuren said that he is consulting with his legal team to bring a civil claim against the attackers and he will also file a criminal complaint.
According to police spokesperson Captain Olebogeng Tawana, no one has been arrested following the incident.
Tawana added that the police are investigating a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and the investigation is ongoing.