Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has apologised for incorrectly accusing a Springboks fan of wearing an old South African flag around his shoulders at the Rugby World Cup game against Wales over the weekend.
Lesufi had tweeted a screenshot of several fans in Springboks shirts and wigs, saying: “That flag, unfortunately is spoiling it! This team @Springboks belongs to all of us. Let’s avoid hurting each other unnecessarily. #StrongerTogether.”
Many people were confused because one of the fans was actually donning the new South African flag. The red and white colours were visible below his waist, while the black, yellow and green colours were draped over his left shoulder.
Twitter users called out Lesufi for spreading fake news, sowing division and lowering the mood after a win against Wales. Some shared photos with different angles or live footage to show Lesufi he had made a mistake.
One user, @vgnaidoo, said: “It’s the post 1994 flag. Check out other tweets that illustrate this. Unnecessary outrage. Lets (sic) enjoy the day.”
Another, @MissPalulu/PalulusKitchen, said: “@Lesufi, if you look carefully, you’ll notice that it is a South African flag hanging on the gentlemen’s (sic) shoulder. I know we are a highly sensitive nation but on this one, I don’t think you are correct.”
Even Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the international relations and cooperation department, weighed in: “These are patriots my leader. That’s our flag!”
Lesufi apologised on Sunday evening: “Sincere apologies fellow South Africans [.] the initial angle was completely wrong! Let’s celebrate the team’s win @Springboks Forward with social cohesion. We are better together than divided! Apartheid flag divides South African flag unites! Slaan hulle die volgende week!”
The Springboks face off against England in the World Cup final on Saturday.
– Compiled by Jenna Etheridge.