Martin Afrika spent more than 20 years in a Cape Town gang
Thank you for sending us your comments.
The debate is now closed but a selection of your views are published below.
Panorama: More Than Just a Game
was broadcast on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday, 1 March 2010.
In the UK, you can watch the programme
I felt compelled to write in after watching the Panorama special on football. I was fortunate to attend the Homeless World Cup tournament in Milan last year whilst supporting a young person from the project I work at. I met Martin and his team from South Africa and have to say they were the most inspirational, highly motivated, pleasant men I have ever met. Martin in particular was wonderful. Always polite, offering support to other teams and generally making people feel comfortable in their surroundings. One memory I have, that will stay in my mind is when South Africa were beating Japan some 18-0. The commentator asked for support from the audience and I looked at the South African team, the managers and substitutes, and they were all cheering for Japan. Now that is fantastic sportsmanship. I wish Martin all the best and would love to have an update on how he is getting on in rehab.
- Helen Woodland
I just want to say that I was really upset by yesterday's Panorama programme. While I appreciate the issues raised I felt that the reporting was biased. The problem faced by those black South Africans are not so dissimilar from those faced by Britons in the UK. Many people in the UK have drug or drink addictions and they are never shown in that light on TV...instead we show the sane picture of the UK to the world. I challenge Panorama to depict something positive or encouraging about Africa to report on. As a part of the BBC, Panorama has a duty to inform and enlighten the public....please show all sides to the coin.
There is a way out of drugs - you need something to live for - not everyone from the townships has to be a gangster - I am a fellow South African who has been through the drugs struggle.
- Kate Woodward
There used to be something called serious journalism, and Panorama used to be pretty good at it. But tonight's little number -- I dunno. Does lecturing a scarcely recovering addict on camera, before the eyes of the world, about the probability his child is being neglected and is therefore already 'doomed' constitute decent, responsible journalism? Does giving him a camera, thus almost guaranteeing he'll use again, constitute responsible journalism? Okay, maybe he'd have used again anyway. If one allows for an interview style that owed more to rehab counselling than to investigative journalism, there were, even within the terms the film set itself, some thin, fragile little stories of trying to walk away from gangsterism and addiction. I think there's a fine line between doing something that illuminates terrible suffering, and doing something that actually makes it worse. I am from South Africa a million years ago, and critical of the democratic government's abandonment of what we used to call the masses. Were the abandoned people served by tonight's farrago? I don't think so. And you won't do anything else in South Africa for years to come. What a shame.
- Jenny Morgan
I have recently moved from South Africa (Johannesburg). Although SA is a dangerous place, I would like to point out that not everywhere is like what your show described. Every country has its 'no-go-zone', and so does South Africa, you just need to be careful. I think that the soccer World Cup is a great opportunity to make money from the tourists. But by watching this episode, (if I'd never been there) I wouldn't want to go there. I think you should have evened it out by putting some of South Africa's good points in too. So people could see that although the country has many problems, it is a wonderful country for the World Cup to take place.
- Clair (age 15)
I'm originally from Cape Town and know all about growing up in a racially divided country and struggling through school to get a proper education. I must admit I thought the programme tonight was quite uninformed and did not appreciate the ill-informed questioning of the presenter to the drug induced children on the programme. There are various reasons for gangsterism and illiteracy in Cape Town's black townships and 'coloured' communities, which are two different worlds altogether. The racial divide has spawned different cultural experiences which is not quite easy to get to grips with if your research is not accurate. I'm so frustrated to see gangsterism in Cape Town featuring for the umpteenth time on the BBC. Is it not time to show the world a positive view as well? There is so much more to Cape Town and SA that the world is not aware of but all they see is poverty and drugs caused by racial policies, political selfishness and a shameful colonial past. The ANC has done nothing to improve impoverished lives in SA despite being able to attract billions into the country this year. Why don't you interview the young new generation who do have a success story to share or focus on a generation of professionals spread around the globe who were educated in SA through harsh times and now teach, doctor, consult, invent an inspire nations around the world? I know about the UK's support for our freedom but I have not seen a positive uplifting programme on SA in the last decade. Please improve your research and get a more representative view from a variety of South Africans. I wish SA all the best for its biggest show yet after the rugby world cup in 1995 and hope the ANC can ensure the safety and enjoyment of a global invasion! Viva Cape Town viva!
- Donovan Beukes
I've just watched your programme about drugs in South Africa. I'm going to the World Cup in June. I'm very excited about it but I'm getting fed up with all the negative publicity being given out. I realise that we need to be careful when we're out there but is it necessary to be quite so negative about it. Will you be doing a similar documentary about drug users in London in 2012. I think not! So what was the point of the programme. Couldn't you have chosen a more positive theme to balance up the dark side such as how the country is moving forward and how it is looking forward to the World Cup. Let's get things in perspective!
- Jon Reed
I only caught the last 15 minutes of the programme, and I am saddened that after the long struggle for freedom, South Africa's peoples are, like Dede says, letting themselves down. I've only been twice for a short time, and I have an affinity with South Africa. The country is so beautiful, the people are so generous...how can they forget in such a short time what the struggle was for/about? Having shown the troubled country would it be possible for programme makers to return and work with achievers of South Africa from small communities who really make a difference and show us the beauty.
Although I thought that this programme was interesting and very revealing I question the decision to return Martin Afrika to the gangs that he came from and think that this was irresponsible at least. After broadcasting his escape from drugs is it not heartless to return him to the world he had almost escaped? The result was no means surprising and as a result of your reporter's fear to enter some of the most dangerous areas of the city you have subjected this experience to someone who the MylifE Foundation have spent years trying to reform. Although you might think that this is a way to reach the heart of the issue I advise more caution in these areas rather than an attempt at sensationalism. I hope that you will have a greater attention to the wellbeing of those involved in future. Nonetheless I appreciate your broadcasting of the issue
- Niall Anderson
I found this an utterly facile programme. Is Cape Town the only major city in the world with street children, drugs, and a gang culture? Ever been to South London? Ever heard of Kingston, Jamaica, with twice as many murders as South Africa? Any acknowledgement that the murder rate in South Africa has been falling consistently for several years? So what is the message of the programme? That somehow a nation like this isn't fit to host the World Cup? That somehow a nation that was "freed" from apartheid should be doing better? I can't see what the point was - apart, perhaps, from wanting to feed the paranoia about South Africa in advance for the World Cup. Or to give a subliminal message that you can't let black people run their own country? Go on, tell me: WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS PROGRAMME?
- Steve Murphy
I have just sat and watched in horror your program on the drug problems facing young people in South Africa but took some solace and happiness from the football which seemed to improve their lives so much. It was with huge shock that I learnt at the end of the program that your producers sent Martin Afrika with a camera back into the drug dens he had fought so hard to be rid of in order to make the program. What kind of opportunistic, self-serving, irresponsible, exploitative journalists are you? Would you send a rapist in to a victims support group or a paedophile into a nursery school? These extreme examples are no different whatsoever to sending a former drug addict back into those circumstances. Whether or not Martin agreed or even offered to do this is irrelevant, to allow him to do so simply in order to shock middle England is unacceptable and disgusting.
- Gary P Marriner