Dur­ban’s he­roes’ wel­come for Boks

Tata Madiba would have been proud, says ju­bi­lant res­i­dent


YES­TER­DAY Dur­ban erupted into a sea of green and gold as the Spring­bok Vic­tory Tour took over the city and Dur­ban­ites turned out in their thou­sands to cheer on the na­tional he­roes.

There was an un­prece­dented level of “gees” in the air, with cap­tain Siya Kolisi and his team hold­ing the William “Bill” Webb-El­lis Cup aloft on the vic­tory bus which wound through uMh­langa, Kwa­Mashu, to City Hall, along the beach­front and end­ing at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium.

By early morn­ing, the streets of uMh­langa were packed with fans and Gate­way’s To­tal Sports man­ager, Ri­vashni Harichan­der, said their Bok jer­seys were sold out be­fore the World Cup fi­nal.

Kwa­Mashu res­i­dents roared and sang as the bus drove through.

Wheel­chair-bound Xolani Nz­i­mande car­ried a rugby ball, which the crowd threw around in cel­e­bra­tion. Nz­i­mande said he hoped the Spring­boks would sign his ball, but the team bus did not stop.

“I’m very happy about the Spring­boks’ win; they have done very well and made us proud as a coun­try,” he said.

Zanele Ng­cobo said hav­ing been brought up dur­ing the apartheid era, the win meant a lot be­cause it brought about unity in the coun­try.

“I’m glad be­cause even our chil­dren can now see we have moved on from that era. Look at every­one here to­gether, a black man cel­e­brat­ing with a white man; Madiba would have been proud.” Taxi driv­ers chanted from the top of the taxi rank roof, cheer­ing for the Boks and singing Shosholoza as Kolisi raised the “Bill” in their di­rec­tion.

Phumzile Mpanza said the win was more than just bring­ing the cup home.

“There’s been seg­re­ga­tion in the coun­try, even po­lit­i­cally; our econ­omy is crum­bling. I be­lieve this is go­ing to pick us (up) and raise our spir­its and we’re go­ing to have a joy­ful fes­tive sea­son. I’m look­ing for­ward to 2020,” she said.

Out­side the city hall, strangers be­came in­stant friends as chants of “Siya, Siya” wel­comed the Spring­boks.

“This is unity. This is the real love that we South Africans de­serve,” said Son­de­lani Rest, a pas­tor from In­changa, em­brac­ing Michelle John­son. He added: “I see the black­ness in her and she sees the white­ness in me. It’s just so nice to see this vibe and there’s more to come.”

Betty Beeks, who knew noth­ing about sport and did not have a TV, started tak­ing an in­ter­est in the Rugby World Cup when she heard South Africa was in the fi­nal.

Yes­ter­day she was out­side the city hall “to pow­er­fully wave the South African flag for us all to be to­gether”.

Along­side her were Shirley De­whurst and Ed­mond Rehman, never hav­ing met one an­other but, none­the­less, dis­cussing the sig­nif­i­cance of the win.

Mary Mkhize, with tra­di­tional clay on her face, lifted her hands in ju­bi­la­tion say­ing “ngiya­jab­ula kakhulu (I am so happy)”.

The beach­front was also lined with chant­ing crowds, in­clud­ing Com­rades Marathon vet­eran Arthur Con­nell, 73, who has wit­nessed all three Spring­bok World Cup wins. He said there was a spe­cial at­mos­phere in the coun­try around this win com­pared with those in 1995 and 2007.

“This is hys­te­ria. I have been to all cel­e­bra­tory tours and it’s never been as well at­tended as this. Even young­sters from schools have been let out early to ex­pe­ri­ence this,” said Con­nell.

Dur­ban res­i­dent, Grant Hill, who was in the Yoko­hama sta­dium for the fi­nal against Eng­land, said: “We were out­num­bered by 10 to 1, with the spec­ta­tors, there was just a sea of white all the way around. They were very noisy in the be­gin­ning but when we held them out, it shut them up and they did not sing again.”

Then the team went to lunch with KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala and eThek­wini Mayor Mx­olisi Kaunda.

Out­side the sta­dium was UKZN sciences stu­dent Lunga Makhaye who said he would have to write a sup­ple­men­tary exam be­cause he was so wrapped up in Bok fever, he couldn’t study for the one set down.

“I came here to­day to sup­port the boys and tell them we love them, they’ve done us proud,” he said.

His col­league, Kar­lan Naidoo, said he wrote the exam in an emo­tional state be­cause of the team’s achieve­ment.

“Thanks for the World Cup and for mak­ing South Africans feel proud.”

Tess Gran­tham con­fessed to bunk­ing school to be at the pa­rade: “There was no exam and I wanted to say well done to the team. We’ve waited a long time. It’s brought South Africa to­gether and we’re proud of you.”

A fam­ily drove to Dur­ban from Richards Bay to cel­e­brate.

Eileen, Neil and Iz­i­bella Belcher and Abby Erasmus left the town at 7am and joined the throng in uMh­langa. That was not enough for them and they re­joined the pa­rade at Moses Mab­hida for a sec­ond round of cheer­ing.

“This is a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate,” said Eileen.

In­side the func­tion room, where a me­dia brief­ing was held, was one of the Spring­boks most ded­i­cated fans, Jo­han van den Berg, who was also in the Tokyo sta­dium for the fi­nal. He was just me­tres from where Maka­zole Mapimpi scored his try, putting the Boks firmly in the lead and cre­at­ing eu­pho­ria back home.

“It was awe­some, awe­some, awe­some, I can­not de­scribe it in words,” said an emo­tional Van den Berg.

Dur­ban’s leg­endary Spring­bok, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira thanked the coun­try for all their sup­port, de­scrib­ing it as “over­whelm­ing”.

“It has been in­cred­i­ble to see the num­ber of peo­ple on the streets. This World Cup win is im­por­tant for the coun­try as a whole. You have all been part of the jour­ney,” he said.

Hav­ing an­nounced his re­tire­ment from rugby this week, Mtawarira said: “I’m so grate­ful for the jour­ney I’ve had. This is the way I want to exit and I have made my de­ci­sion with a lot of peace in my heart.”

Zikalala said the Boks had flown the South African flag high.

“We are one na­tion, united,” he said, while Kaunda said: “we are in­spired by our war­riors, our cham­pi­ons, our he­roes”.

The Boks ar­rived in East Lon­don last night for the next leg of their tour to­day.

LEON LESTRADE African News Agency (ANA)

AS THE vic­to­ri­ous Spring­boks ar­rived at the Dur­ban City Hall yes­ter­day, the crowds chanted “Siya! Siya! Siya!” in wel­come. Dur­ban res­i­dents turned out in force, wav­ing their flags, ready to wel­come their he­roes. |

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