Flames legend Ernest ‘Wire’ Mtawali is among South Africa-based soccer stars and coaches that have set up a campaign to fight against xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the Rainbow Nation.
Malawians are among the victims with about 113 displaced by the current wave of attacks.
According to South African publication Sunday World, in the aftermath of the xenophobic violence that gripped South Africa over the past few days, legends and coaches—both local and foreigners—last Friday converged to call for peace and the ceasing of hostilities.
Apart from Mtawali, the others include Zambian football icon Kalusha Bwalya, Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and his Golden Arrows counterpart Stevie Komphela.
In an interview from his Johannesburg base on Wednesday, Mtawali said: “I felt obliged to be part of the campaign because I believe it is not proper for South African to harm their fellow Africans.”
The members of the football fraternity all spoke with one voice after the withdrawal first of Zambia, followed by Madagascar from playing friendly match esagainstBafana following the xenophobic attacks that engulfed South Africa.
But the mood was rather subdued at a Johannesburg hotel, when the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL), South Africa Football Associations (Safa) and African football icons, all pleaded for calm while condemning acts of hooliganism and violence that were the order of the day last week.
They all emphasised the importance of ending the attacks on foreign nationals and the burning of their businesses.
Messages from other coaches such as Benni McCarthy, who were dressed in black, a symbol of mourning, were beamed on the big screen.
“Gender-based violence that has gripped the country in recent years was also not forgotten as the football mentors supported by Gauteng Province sports and recreation boss MbaliHlophe, Safa vice-president, Malawian veteran Ernest Mtawali, who is among the first players from outside South Africa to play in the PSL, scathingly condemned the brutality perpetrated by men on women and children,” reads part of the report in Sunday World.