Bafana fan Botha Msila sends desperate SOS to sports minister Nathi Mthethwa

13 June 2019 - 13:42 By Marc Strydom
Soccer fans Botha Msila and his Zimbabwean travelling companion Alvin Zhakata
Soccer fans Botha Msila and his Zimbabwean travelling companion Alvin Zhakata
Image: TWITTER/ Botha Msila

Famous South African football fan Botha Msila and his Zimbabwean travelling companion Alvin Zhakata have come unstuck in their epic hitchhiking trip to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)‚ appealing to sports minister Nathi Mthethwa for assistance.

Bloemfontein Celtic fan Msila‚ on his way to watch Bafana Bafana at the Afcon‚ and Zimbabwe supporter Zhakata have made an appeal to Mthethwa to intervene as they are stuck at the border between Kenya and Ethiopia.

The pair – who have apparently managed to pass through other countries without visas as they have been in transit – say they cannot afford the $50 (about R750) for visas to enter Ethiopia.

Msila‚ in a video clip posted on Twitter‚ said: “They are refusing us entry because they say we must have visas.

“We never knew about a visa for these countries. So we are so surprised that we now have to be stuck here‚ because they are asking us to pay $50 to get a visa for Ethiopia.”

Mamello Makha‚ another well-known Celtic fan and a close friend of Msila’s‚ told TimesLIVE on Thursday that Msila is hoping Mthethwa can intervene on behalf of the pair.

“He’s still stuck at the border. The last time we talked was about 30 minutes ago‚” Makha said.

“He was saying they want the visa. Now he’s still waiting to hear from the minister‚ Nathi Mthethwa.

“He made a request to the minister on Twitter to find of there is any way he can assist him.”

Makha said Msila’s madcap plan to hitchhike to Egypt for the Afcon was so last minute that he was unable to secure all the visas he needed before leaving South Africa.

“He tried to speak to people in South Africa to the embassies to help him‚” she said.

“But – because he was already late in applying and was supposed to pay a certain amount of money – someone advised him that as he was passing through the countries and not staying‚ to take that risk of going.

“All those countries he’s been OK so far except Ethiopia.”

Even when Msila manages to resolve his problem at the Ethiopian border‚ he faces a bigger challenge in the final country before reaching Egypt‚ Sudan‚ which has been in crisis from a brutal‚ murderous response to an uprising against the current ruling Transitional Military Council.

“Yes‚ that was our biggest worry when he started this journey. But he was just hoping things would get better‚” Makha said.

“I told him but he was like‚ ‘I want to do this. I love sports. I went to Safa [the SA Football Association] to try to see if they could sponsor me‚ but they couldn’t. So I’m going to do it this way’.

“So he took a risk. But it’s not easy. Possibly Nathi Mthethwa can also assist him with that somehow.”

Msila‚ known for his trademark Celtic-coloured green overalls and the shower caps he wears‚ is a regular fixture at multiple Premier Soccer League matches on any given weekend in South Africa‚ and often hitchhikes to the games.

Bafana kick off their Afcon against Ivory Coast in Cairo on Monday‚ June 24.