Cape Cobras refute any claims of racial division after alleged incident

Cape Town - The Cape Cobras have dismissed any allegations of a racial division within the Cape-franchise last season following a recent media report this week.

Al Jazeera's David Cox published an article this week that quoted Lions batsman Kagiso Rapulana mentioning an incident in the Cape Cobras camp.

"There was an incident at the Cobras franchise this season where a white batsman was omitted for a black batsman for the first four games and the latter wasn't performing well. He was chosen for the fifth game as well and that's when the white guy lost his temper and said: 'You'd better make use of this opportunity'," Rapulana told Al Jazeera.

"Everyone got involved. Black players stood up for black players, white players stood up for white players. It caused a lot of division within the team. Later in the season, I got a message from the black guy who said he was struggling emotionally and was thinking of asking the franchise to release him at the end of the season."

The player(s) in question are not referred to or mentioned in the story.

On Friday, Cape Cobras chief executive Nabeal Dien released a press release and revealed that the Western Cape Cricket board and players were "aghast by the accusations" and refuted the claim.

The Cape Cobras statement reads as follows:

"Unity is PRIMARY at the Cobras. We have worked hard on this and not a single player in our squad will disagree. False accusations like this are scathing to our team and organisation as a whole," Dien said.

"We call on the journalist and publication in question to retract this article and issue a formal apology," he added.

"We have spent many hours ensuring our environment is inclusive and a healthy space for players and management. After a pre-season venture last season the team returned and adopted the slogan #StrengthInDiversity. It is used in all our social media communication which reflects the unity of our squad."

Cape Cobras captain Dane Piedt also expressed his disappointment at the accusations levelled at the Western Cape franchise.

"It is extremely disappointing. Being the captain of the team, it affects me even more, and on my leadership and the unifying culture we have created at the Cobras. It is really disappointing that someone from outside that has no idea of how our team functions and the camaraderie within the squad had made such comments," Piedt said.

Senior Black African batsman, and a former Cape Cobras Player of the Year, Aviwe Mgijima also addressed the matter.

"I am saddened and upset with the accusations against our squad," Mgijima said.

"The statements in that article are indeed not true. It saddens me that a member of another team would spread rumours and lies about what transpired in our space. 

"I for one do not even remember there being a division amongst us. I really hope we get to the bottom of this and our squad is cleared."

Opening batsman Pieter Malan was equally taken aback with the claims of a racial fraction within the Cape Cobras dressing room.

"We have the most diverse and open-minded squad in the country and these allegations go against everything we believe in at the Cobras. It is insulting and defamatory to say the least. Nothing like this happened in our team environment and he should name his source if he wants to take this story any further," Malan said.