CAPE TOWN – Following complaints from South Africans on social media, the Westpac Stadium management asked the spectators who were displaying the apartheid-era South African flag at the Springbok-All Black Test to remove it.
The old ‘driekleur’ was shown on television in the 64th minute of the epic Rugby Championship clash in Wellington, which the Springboks won 36-34 to record their first victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009.
But the sight of the flag – hung over the wall at a player entrance – saw social media kick into action.
“Our attention was bought to the flag via South African fans on social media,” Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon told New Zealand website Newshub.
“We didn’t initially recognise the flag, but with some quick reference checking, we were able to ascertain that it was the pre-1994 South African flag.
“We understand the flag is from the apartheid era and offensive to many South Africans and as a result, we asked the patrons to remove it.”
Harmon added that no further action was taken against the spectators.
“We’ll take further advice for future events, but our assessment at the time was that the flag was not illegal, but had potential to cause offence,” he said.
“We acted appropriately when it was brought to our attention.
“We’ve had flag protocols for many visiting teams and events over the years, but this particular one has never been brought to our attention.
“Now that we know what it is, we’ll be more vigilant for it in the future.”
Well done Tony Johnson. There is no place for such people. 👏🏾👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/uWsim6LbjZ
Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa expressed her unhappiness with the flag being flown on Monday.
Her spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga told IOL Sport: “Naturally the Minister is disappointed by people who are hellbent to take us back to the hurtful dark days of apartheid.
“As a nation, we have moved on, and that is best reflected in the Springboks team, where it’s starting to reflect the demographics of our nation.
“We should celebrate the Springboks victory and build on it to create social cohesion amongst our people.
“The Springboks brought collective happiness in the middle of difficult economic times for our nation, and that is what sport is supposed to do.”