The good that came from a lot of bad!


Who would have thought that a mere four days after ‘It’s Coming Home’ stopped being sung in England when the Euro 2020 Cup went to Italy, something else came home in South Africa, writes JOAO DA MATA.

They were chickens that indeed came home to roost when their government’s almost three decades of misappropriation of funds along with systemic corruption, theft and lawlessness came to a head. Locust-like looters were in full confrontation with brave community members and the security forces. Social media swiftly delivered the news and images to the world.

However, as with crashes on the motorway, the demand for bad news seems to far outweigh the craving for good news. The purpose of today’s extra Newsletter is to tell you some good stuff.

I’ll be leaving some names out, not by choice but there are way too many to mention, but I also don’t know all the good people that have come together during this crisis.

Our wonderful sport of horse racing has many issues, however when the chips are down it’s amazing how racing’s people rally together.

The IRC’s Laura De Haast, along with Rocky Agrella and Wayne Agrella, between them organised a two-ton rescue package of food and essentials to be delivered to Kwazulu-Natal. Mike De Haast used his logistical expertise and guided the delivery via roads that had been without traffic for many years. The IRC and the Viljoen family’s farm Fiddlers Green, and the surrounding areas needed supplies.

Matthew Sham of New Turf Carriers (photo of Sham family above) and Diane de Kock put their heads together to do a similar thing, using (and risking) the New Turf Carriers trucks. But people rallied to their assistance and got it done.

Gold Circle’s tireless Warren Lenferna has been out on patrol with his local Neighbourhood Watch every night, and, knowing Warren, I’m sure that if there were quiet moments he would’ve convinced a few other fearless members of his community to come horse racing when things are back to normal.

The IRC-sponsored Jason Gates is also part of his neighbourhood’s watchmen- and women in Pietermaritzburg. When we spoke today, Jason was checking himself into hospital after a skirmish last night. He got hit across his back whilst forcing would-be looters to think again.

MEN OF ACTION, COME WHAT MAY!  Mike de Haast and Warren Lenferna.

I know those good stories because the people responsible for them are close to me. The best news of all, however, is that through these dark days the people of South Africa have come together like the brightest lighthouse in the world, which was most encouraging and a shot in the arm for the embattled country so often characterised by disunity.

Neighbours that have never spoken are standing guard overnight, airlines are delivering food to KZN, taxis are barricading and protecting malls and other assets. People of all colours, economic backgrounds and social standings have joined hands to stand up as ONE.

In the past it was ‘easy’ to see the difference in the South African factions, but this week, when the nation had to stand together as a nation or see it all fall dreadfully apart, they didn’t hesitate to join hands.

Now, it’s about right and wrong and because there have been so many, many wrongs over the last few decades the people of South Africa are pretty much saying ‘No Más, No Más!’, (Spanish for ‘No More’) an expression that the majestic Sugar Ray Leonard claimed he never heard Roberto Duran say at the end of round eight of their boxing match in New Orleans, back in 1980.

I’m roughly 12,000 kms away in the UK, strategising the IRC’s horse racing involvement in SA, and tonight I am excited. I’m pretty sure that the powers that are pulling the strings in SA have heard the cries of ‘No Más’ from the people this time, unlike Sugar Ray. With signs of a strong and united front coming to the fore against criminality, I foresee a better future for the country and by implication for its horse racing industry.

Be safe all of you, stay vigilant, stay together, stay strong and keep telling and showing them enough is enough!

Thank you to all the Heroes.  -IRC.


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