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ZIMBABWE cricket player with a history of disciplinary problems is being investigated for making a racial slur on social media where he referred to black people as “apes.”
Zimbabwe Cricket said it is looking into comments posted on Facebook by batsman Mark Vermeulen.
Vermeulen was responding to a complaint made by black player Prosper Utseya alleging racism in Zimbabwe cricket.
In the post made back in July, Vermeulen wrote that black people wouldn’t have any problems “if we had left them in the bush,” and Utseya might be happier if he was living “in his mud hut.” He referred to black people as “the apes.”
Vermeulen, who has played nine tests and 43 one-day internationals but has been in and out of the team, could face a life ban in Zimbabwe after a series of previous problems.
In 2008, Vermeulen escaped a conviction for arson because of mental illness after setting fire to two Zimbabwe cricket buildings in 2006 in protest at being left out of the team.
The court found Vermeulen had been suffering from serious psychiatric problems since he was struck on the head by a ball while batting in a game in 2004.
Vermeulen was banned from playing in English league cricket for 10 years in 2011 for hurling the ball at a group of fans after they teased him.
He made his return to Zimbabwe’s test team last year after a 10-year absence but has fallen out of favour again.
On Friday, a local newspaper published what it said was an apology from Vermeulen.
In it, Vermeulen said that he had apologised personally to Utseya and had his apology accepted.
Vermeulen also wrote: “I know my comments were over the top and I apologise to all that I have offended. But as a cricketer, it’s how our minds work.”
The Vermeulen matter led to exchanges between former sports minister David Coltart and higher education minister Jonathan Moyo.
Moyo suggested that Vermeulen’s views were widely shared among the broader white community.
“My friend Jonathan was determined to involve me. Racist comments like this are disgusting and retrogressive and need to be condemned,” tweeted Coltart.
“The danger is that some will try to argue that this represents the views of most whites (of) which it doesn’t. Most are appalled by it.”
PHOTO-Left: Mark Vermeulen is struck in the face in 2004 and right, under arrest after burning down the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy in 2006.
Photo: Getty Images/AFP