Butana Komphela has claimed that Nelson Mandela was not a supporter of the Springbok emblem.
In 1996, after Mandela had played a role in unifying the country along with the World Cup-winning Boks a year earlier, he backed the Bok emblem to stay. The National Sports Council wanted to replace the Bok with the King Protea, and Mandela reasoned this would only cause conflict.
“There is a real possibility that if we review our decision and accept the Springbok for rugby as our symbol, we will unite our country as never before,” said Mandela.
Komphela, the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport, has claimed however that before the World Cup Madiba didn’t back the Bok.
“It is a known fact that even Mandela himself allowed the team to use the Springbok emblem for the World Cup only as they had already made orders for the kit bearing the Springbok,” said Komphela.
“He simply did not want to rock the boat before the big event; he even told the rugby captain at the time [Francois Pienaar] that they must not forget that the Springbok should go,” Komphela said.
If Komphela’s claims are true, it simply goes to show how a world-renowned leader such as Mandela changed his stance on the emblem after noting the positive effect the Bok has had – and will have in the future.
This is in direct contrast to Komphela – who despite witnessing the World Cup Boks of 1995 and 2007 unify the entire country – continues to launch attack after attack on the Boks and rugby in general.
Komphela openly stated two weeks ago that along with the intended abolishment of the Bok emblem, that “we are on our way to taking away all stadiums from rugby…nothing will stop us.”