Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has apologised for suggesting that a Springboks fan had adorned the apartheid flag during South Africa’s World Cup semifinal game against Wales on Sunday.
Lesufi tweeted a photo earlier on Sunday showing the fan with the South African flag draped around his shoulders.
From the angle of the image, a section of the flag appeared to show the colours orange, white and blue. This led Lesufi to mistakenly assume that it was the apartheid flag.
He wrote, “That flag, unfortunately, is spoiling it! This team @Springboks belongs to all of us. Let’s avoid hurting each other unnecessarily. #StrongerTogether.”
However, many of his followers pointed out that he had got it wrong. Some shared other photos and videos to prove that the fan had adorned the current South African flag.
A few hours later, Lesufi acknowledged his mistake and tweeted, “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!”
He accompanied his apology with images that confirmed that he had indeed got it wrong.
Mzwandile Masina deletes tweet
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina was apparently the first to tweet the image and express his “outrage.”
He wrote, “More reasons I have no business in supporting this team, which some supporters still carry old apartheid flag.
“Shame on this barbaric display of this apartheid flag when democracy has embraced all South Africans [sic].”
Masina has since deleted the image. Unlike Lesufi, however, he has not yet issued an apology.
The Springboks advanced to the final of the Rugby World Cup after defeating Wales 19-16.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that he will travel to Japan to support the team in the final against England on 2 November.