Steve Komphela was in his element at FNB Stadium's auditorium on Wednesday, waxing lyrical like only he knows how.
Komphela became animated in response to the question of what advice he would give Orlando Pirates’ forward Thamsanqa Gabuza, who is under constant criticism and ridicule from his own fans.
Komphela faced the same challenge in three tumultuous years at Kaizer Chiefs which ended on a violent note, with fans invading the pitch and almost killing a security guard in an attempt to force him out of the club. Komphela sympathises with Gabuza.
He spent almost 20 minutes on the phone speaking to Gabuza on the day Komphela returned to FNB Stadium for the first time since leaving Chiefs and joining Bloemfontein Celtic.
“The biggest challenge with us human beings is to look at what we want to achieve without acknowledging the fact that the other person across is also human,” Komphela said.
“Competition must not bring an element of ruthlessness and irrational actions. What I said to him, taking from my own lessons, was that the media has a huge role.
“They can direct how society sees things. I am not hanging anybody or holding anyone accountable, but just questioning whether we are taking enough responsibility to give direction as leaders.
“I said to Gabuza he must put on a positive filter: Where we come from, the cake flour would have worms, because we come from poverty, you would never understand.
“You know what mom would do? She would take a sift and shake (to remove the worms so that we can use the flour). Have the same lenses in your eyes and ears. See positive and you will act positive. But if you listen to all that is negative, it is going to kill you.”
Gabuza’s eyes had murderous intentions at Peter Mokaba Stadium after playing a ball that Black Leopards’ Thivhavhudzi Ndou directed into his own net.
Gabuza ran towards the Ghost, threw his jersey at them, mockingly clapped, motioned the change sign they constantly direct to him and then stormed off the pitch with 11 minutes remaining before halftime.
Gabuza had reached boiling point, having been ridiculed for his poor return in front of goals. The fans and Gabuza were justified in their actions even though both were wrong.
As paying customers, the supporters have a right to voice their frustration at someone who they feel isn’t pulling their weight.
In terms of goals, Gabuza hasn’t been pulling his weight since he joined the Buccaneers in 2013.
Yes, his physique and work rate are important to the club and will be vital in the CAF Champions League later this year, but on its own, that is not enough to warrant him consistently wearing the Pirates jersey.
That said, the Ghost’s treatment of Gabuza has been shameful and borders on abuse.
The supporters taunted and tormented Gabuza. The 31-year-old snapped and did what he did in Polokwane. It’s understandable, because he is a human being with feelings.
But his conduct was disrespectful to the institution that has paid his salary for five years.
Throwing away the jersey the way he did is tantamount to pissing on the badge that millions hold sacred.
He apologised and from the corny video his team put up, it seems his teammates and the club’s technical team stand by him.
* Njabulo Ngidi is a football writer for New Frame.