On September 7, 2020, it was reported that Orlando Pirates Football Club midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend Nokhupiwa Mathithibala.
In response the club has noted the incident with an apathetic two paragraph statement in which they indicate that they “cannot comment further except to say that we condemn all forms of violence, especially violence against women and children”.
South Africa’s femicide rates are disturbingly high. In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that the interpersonal violence death rate for womxn in South Africa was 12.5 per 100,000 womxn- a figure which is five times worse than the global average of 2.6.
For a club of Orlando Pirates’ stature, half hearted condemnation of Mr. Lorch’s deplorable actions is simply not enough.
In August the club swiftly subjected Mr. Lorch to its internal processes after he was found to have breached the club’s protocols. It is therefore shocking that the club’s response to a gender-based violence allegation is so apathetic, demonstrating that the club does not take GBV seriously. Mr. Lorch must be subjected to the club’s internal disciplinary processes.
As one of the biggest clubs in South Africa Orlando Pirates needs to lead by example and demonstrate that they are on the side of survivors of abuse.
Earlier, the PSL entered into a memorandum of understanding with the SA Police Service (SAPS) to stand against crime and particularly gender-based violence (GBV).
For this reason Sonke also calls on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to establish clear standard operating procedures on how to ensure that players accused of any form of abuse are disciplined and held accountable.