‘Hope and Solidarity’ – Palestine Meets South Africa in Cape Town Match (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

South Africans came out in their thousands on Sunday afternoon to cheer the Palestinian national football team. (Photo: Nurah Tape, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

In true South African style, the game had the gees (the vibe), the flags and the fervor, with spirited spectators and organizers united in calling for a free Palestine.

South Africans came out in their thousands on Sunday afternoon to cheer the Palestinian national football team as they took on a local invitational side, the Western Cape XI, in Cape Town.

The Football for Humanity international showpiece, held under the theme ‘Peace, Hope and Solidarity’, was initiated by the Sport Stepping Stones (SSS) Foundation, and hosted in association with the South African Football Association (SAFA) and the National Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. 

“Today we celebrate humanity, we celebrate friendship. But we are also here to signify our support as the people of South Africa for the struggle of the Palestinians,” South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, donning a Palestinian scarf, addressed the crowd ahead of the game.

“The majority of people in this country and the government of South Africa, and the governing party of South Africa support the people of Palestine,” he said.

The date of the match is significant as it is the day in 1990 that former President Nelson Mandela was released from prison, “marking the victory of the liberation struggle against apartheid.”

“We have said to them (the Palestinians) and to the world that we are following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela who said to us and who taught us that our freedom will not be complete until the freedom of the Palestinians is also achieved,” Ramaphosa said to cheers from the crowd who waved Palestinian flags. 

South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice in December, accusing it of “genocidal acts” in its assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. 

Also speaking at the friendly was Jibril Rajoub, the President of the Palestinian Football Association, who lauded President Ramaphosa and the ruling government for their stance on Palestine. 

“Mr. President, what you are doing and the federation of football here, is a message to the Israelis that the Palestinians are not isolated, that we are with the Palestinians, we are with their justice cause,” he said. 

Rajoub continued that it is “a message to the international community that it is time to end the suffering of the Palestinians.”

“Genocide, destruction, racism, fascism, will never ensure security or regional stability or global peace. The only way to achieve that Is to recognize the very existence of the Palestinian people and their right to have their own independent state,” he stressed.

To chants of ‘Free Palestine’ from the crowd, he concluded with the word “Amandla!”, a popular rallying cry – meaning Power – in the days of resistance against apartheid South Africa. 

Historic Solidarity

Also in attendance at the match were South Africa’s Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, as well as Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor; key figures in South Africa’s case at the World Court against Israel.  

The Palestinian team, fresh from their historic achievement in the Asia Cup where they qualified for the Round of 16 for the first time, touched down in Cape Town last Thursday, and were met by a huge crowd of supporters. 

The Football for Humanity event symbolizes South Africa’s historic solidarity with the people of Palestine “in their struggle against illegal occupation and violent excesses by the State of Israel”, the Presidency said in a statement.

“It aims to provide Palestinian players with the opportunity to enjoy their favorite sport in conditions of peace and sound infrastructure.”

Abubakr ‘Boebie’ Cassiem, founder of the SSS, said “two years ago I went to SAFA and I said to them I want to bring the national team of Palestine (to South Africa) and they said it’s impossible, I must just keep on dreaming.”

“And today the dream is a reality. As that is a reality, we also want peace in Palestine… And so Palestine will be free, and that will be possible.”

Even though Palestine lost the game 1 – 0, they certainly won the day, as well as the hearts of the locals judging by the cheers each time the team very nearly scored. The stadium was adorned by Palestinian flags and banners in support of a Free Palestine.  

A second match, also to be held in Cape Town, will feature a South African Invitational XI facing off against the Palestinian visitors in the Freedom Cup.

In January, the World Court granted six interim emergency measures requested by South Africa including that Israel takes all measures to prevent acts of genocide being committed in Gaza, and to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.


Rising Death Toll

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 28,340 Palestinians have been killed, and 67,984 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 8,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

(Palestine Chronicle)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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