Police have arrived at NMU after chaos erupted at the match between Madibaz and Maties. According to reports from the scene, SASCO students are allegedly protesting against the lack of transformation in sports. The game has been cancelled.
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Last night’s chaotic Varsity Cup rugby match between the Madibaz and Maties in Port Elizabeth was abandoned after angry protesters charged onto the field and threw chairs.
The trouble started when protesters tried to storm one of the VIP boxes where Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids had been seen before kickoff.
One of the protesters grabbed the stadium announcer’s microphone and shouted “Viva Viva”, which elicited roars of approval from the crowd.
He said over the public address system that black players were not being fairly represented and this had to end.
One member of the crowd, who did not want to be named, said the protest was politically motivated, but he was unsure of the protesters’ affiliation.
Chairs were then thrown onto the field and players and referee Paul Mente led the players off the field.
One of the protesters demanded to know why white men were videoing black protesters.
He then stormed into the media area and slapped a woman in the face before being thrown out.
A small band of security officials tried to keep the big group of protesters at bay, but they were hopelessly outnumbered.
— Ms Buso (@Nazi_Buso) March 12, 2018
Insults were traded and a fist-fight erupted at the entrance to the VIP box. Bottles were thrown and fights broke out between the protesters and security personnel.
When the game was abandoned, log-leading Maties were leading 19-0 early in the second half.
After some time, police reinforcements arrived and a large group of protesters was still milling around on the field and in the stands.
Players were forced to leave the field through a side entrance at the back of the field to avoid protesters.
This is not the first time that the Varsity Cup has been affected by student protests. In 2016, matches were played at neutral venues after protests erupted.
Varsity Cup spokeswoman Marisa Calvert said a statement on last night’s match being abandoned would be made today.
NMU spokeswoman Zandile Mbabela said the university condemned the incident.
“[It] is extremely regrettable and not in the spirit of [the] university,” she said.
“There will be further investigation into the matter and the appropriate steps taken.”
SA Students Congress regional secretary Noxolo Koko denied claims that the incident had been politically motivated by Sasco members.
“Students were involved. It is unfortunate that they chose violence, but I understand that they are frustrated,” Koko said.
She said the frustration stemmed from NMU’s poor performance. “We have the best training facilities [and] the best coaches, but still the team is underperforming.”
Earlier yesterday afternoon, Sasco called on its Facebook page for students to show up in numbers and support the team.
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