/ 26 October 2007

Boks on a bus bring bliss

Young and old braved the cold and rainy weather in Johannesburg on Friday to gather singing and screaming outside Sasol’s head office in Rosebank to cheer the World Cup-winning Springboks on their victory parade.

The Boks were expected to arrive at team sponsor Sasol’s offices by 1.30pm after the parade left Pretoria earlier in the day, but were delayed by the rain and their open-top bus only drove into Rosebank almost an hour later.

Hundreds of fans waited patiently in the rain for a glimpse of the Webb Ellis trophy.

”Well done, Bokke, you’ve done us proud boys,” said a teary-eyed Faye Young (52) from Edenvale, who added that she has been a rugby fan all her life. ”I am so emotional now, but in a good way,” she said, wiping away her tears with one hand and holding a beer in the other.

Sipho Mbanjwa, in his 30s, described the Springboks as ”the pride of the nation”, saying: ”It’s OK that I am soaking in the rain for the Amabokoboko because they have done so much more for us.”

Sasol employee Shanana Tsokodibane (52) said the atmosphere around the company’s offices had been vibrant ever since the Springboks won the World Cup. ”I remember we had a huge braai here at work on the Friday before the final. Ever since then we are a big, happy, Bokke-supporting family,” she said.

The excitement when the bus carrying the Boks arrived was contagious.

Carla (28), from Kempton Park, said: ”I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I watched the finals at Brightwater Commons [in Randburg] and it was amazing with everyone screaming. Thank you, Bokke for making us proud; we love you lots.”

Alfred Magampa (48) commented: ”I’m very, very happy. I like to see my Bokke win. I watched it [the final] with friends.” Zuko (22), from Rosebank, was also celebrating: ”Congratulations to them and I’m glad they are taking the convoy around Johannesburg.”

Lucia (40), from Soweto, said: ”I’m very proud of them and they must keep up the good work. We are world champions and we are now very much proudly South African.”

Thousands of people in Pretoria turned up earlier in the day for the parade. Central Pretoria came to a standstill with many office workers taking time out to catch a glimpse of the national heroes.

The team on Friday morning met President Thabo Mbeki at the Union Buildings before embarking on the parade. A chorus of vuvuzelas sounded throughout the city as excited fans followed the procession. As the bus made its way down Pretorius Street, many motorists stuck in traffic got out to join the throngs of fans screaming their support.

On the road

The Springboks will be visiting former state president Nelson Mandela on Saturday morning before travelling to Soweto on the last Gauteng leg of their victory parade.

Rugby chiefs said on Friday that the Springboks will tour Soweto as part of the nationwide victory parade after an outcry over a decision to bypass the township.

SA Rugby, already under fire over the lack of black players in the Springbok team, said on Thursday it had decided to strike Soweto off its initial list of venues because of time constraints.

The victory celebrations also include ticker-tape parades through Durban and Cape Town as well as team appearances in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

The Boks on Saturday fly out to Bloemfontein, where activities will include a public reception at Grey College and an appearance at the Absa Currie Cup final match at Vodacom Park.

Visits to the coastal cities of Durban and Port Elizabeth are on the menu for Sunday. The public of Durban will be able to see the team during a parade through the city streets, while Port Elizabeth fans will meet their heroes at the Greenacres shopping complex.

On Monday, in Cape Town, the victory parade starts at the City Hall opposite the Parade. The tour culminates in a symbolic handover of the World Cup trophy by John Smit to Hoskins. Capetonians will be able to attend this ceremony, and entrance to the Newlands Stadium will be free of charge. The estimated time of the handover is 1.30pm.