CAPE TOWN – South Africa as a nation has moved on from the old apartheid-era flag, and the Springboks have shown what can be achieved with their victory over the All Blacks.
That was the sentiment of Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa to IOL Sport on Monday in response to a request for comment on the old SA flag being flown at the Boks’ Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks at the weekend.
Siya Kolisi’s team did the unthinkable by beating the world champions 36-34 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday, which was the Boks’ first win in New Zealand since 2009.
But the unsavoury sighting of the old ‘driekleur’ drew fierce criticism on social media and from New Zealand rugby commentator Tony Johnson afterwards.
“To the people who brought that flag into our stadium: Either you get rid of it, or you think about going and living somewhere else. That flag is a symbol of a regime that no longer exists. And if you believe in what that flag represents, well, I’m not sure we want you in this country,” Johnson said.
“You’ve caused so much embarrassment to people in South Africa. It is a really bad thing that you have done.”
Well done Tony Johnson. There is no place for such people. 👏🏾👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/uWsim6LbjZ
Xasa’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga told IOL Sport on Monday: “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.”
The Boks arrived back in Johannesburg on Sunday evening.
They will take a break for a few days before gathering in Port Elizabeth next Sunday, ahead of their clash against Australia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on September 29, where after they take on the All Blacks in Pretoria on October 6.