Old South African flag lives on in online retail

02 November 2017 - 08:41 By Bafana Nzimande
Image: Gallo Images

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the apartheid-era South African flag to be relegated to history‚ but online platforms appear to present a lifeline for the defunct flag.

A variety of memorabilia containing the old flag can be bought from as little as R25. The paraphernalia includes large and small versions of the flags‚ some referred to as "unused". Mugs and pins with the symbol are also available on retail sites like OLX and BidorBuy.

One BidorBuy seller has offered a "brand new" flag for R430.

"Brand new old South African flag. Condition is excellent … This flag has been in storage for many years and was never flown‚" the seller says.

Another person is selling a "huge" old SA flag for R3‚900

"Very nice‚ clean condition. This comes from a former prison guard at Glencoe prison (Natal) who took it down in 1994 (for obvious reasons)‚" the posting reads.

A number of the retailers appear to trade in antiques and other rare items.

One person hopes to sell a large version of the flag for R6‚500. The flag contains the signature of FW de Klerk‚ the posting says‚ and belonged to the seller's grandfather.

Following this week's Black Monday march against farm murders‚ some commentators have asked why some white South Africans have held on to the old flag more than 20 years into democracy.

Freedom Front Plus (FF+) member of Parliament Pieter Groenewald argues that the flag is an integral part of South African history and that it's people's constitutional right to associate with the flag.

"The flag has not been banned‚ that is why it can still be purchased. If the government wants to impose a ban‚ it must provide solid reasons why it would want to infringe on the rights of others‚" said Groenewald.

Groenewald said the FF+ does not support the use of the old flag and the symbol is banned in all party activities.

He said he is aware that the old flag reminds many South Africans of the apartheid regime‚ adding that South Africa has other symbols that are a sad reminder of the past for other races.

"The Mkhonto weSizwe emblem is offensive to some people but yet we've seen certain individuals using it in public without any reprimand. It's sad that some individuals are using symbolism to cause division and tension in the country‚" said Groenewald.

Human rights activist and managing director at Diversi-T‚ Terry Oakley-Smith‚ said the old flag should have been banned after 1994 and legal action taken against anyone found in possession of it.

Oakley-Smith said those who presently own this flag are still holding on to the ideals of the oppressive system.

"Oppression for a majority of black people. White people that don't see anything wrong about apartheid are misguided by a sense of privilege their race has had over the years‚" said Oakley-Smith.

She said legal steps must be explored to completely remove the old flag.

Several politicians this week condemned the hoisting of the old flag during Monday's national protest against the killing of farmers.

On Wednesday Ramaphosa said those who hoisted the flag are still trapped in the past and have demonstrated to all that they still hanker for the old day days of apartheid.

"Anybody who still hoists a flag that is representative of a terrible crime that was committed against our people‚ a crime that the world called a crime against humanity‚ should be condemned very strongly‚" said Ramaphosa when responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday.

"I am hoping that that flag will never be flown in South Africa ever again. This must be the last time we've seen that flag."

DA leader Mmusi Maimane wrote on Twitter that the old flag was reminiscent of a brutal past and did not belong in the new South Africa.

PAC spokesman Kenneth Mokgatlhe said those who own the old flag are a danger to society. He said the legal system must tighten its grip on such individuals.

"Government must reprimand such people because they don't realise the amount of trauma black people went through under that old flag. Current government must take a stand regarding the use of the old flag.

They must stop delaying the process because what we see now is a clear indication that things never changed after 1994. The so-called rainbow nation never existed‚ hence some in our midst are brave enough to carry this flag‚" Mokgatlhe said.