Thousands support ANC rally

Zinhle Mapumulo and Nawhla Kara

Zinhle Mapumulo and Nawhla Kara

The mood was ecstatic at the final ANC campaign rally at the Johannesburg stadium yesterday.

About 80000 supporters (who also packed the adjacent Coca Cola Park) came to pledge their support for the ruling party two days before the general election.

Among them was disabled Sophia Moloto from Snake Park in Soweto. The 59-year-old said she could not miss the final rally of the ANC before it takes over as the new government.

"I had to come to support the party that has done so much for the people of South Africa, especially the disabled," she said.

Moloto was clad in ANC gear like thousands of other women present at the rally.

The young and the old were wearing yellow and black T-shirts bearing Zuma's face.

They sang struggle songs and blew vuvuzelas as Zuma was driven onto the pitch in a golf cart with former president Nelson Mandela.

The pair drove around the stadium greeting supporters before climbing onto the podium where they sat with President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Other ANC bigwigs who took to the centre stage were Deputy President Baleka Mbete, Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and programme directors for the day, Nomvula Mokonyane and Fikile Mbalula. Mandela's grandson Mandla, chief of the Mvezo traditional council, was also present.

There was a bit of commotion between Mandla and Madikizela-Mandela as they both pushed to help the former president to the stage. They exchanged a few words before he gave in to her. She then helped him to the stage and they sat next to each other.

Mandela did not speak at the rally but an audio message was played where he encouraged people to put the ANC in power again. He admitted that more still needs to be done.

Outside the stadium over 20 bikers enticed the crowd with their gleaming machines. They were all wearing T-shirts saying "I ride for the ANC".

Meanwhile, a bus carrying ANC supporters to the rally was involved in an accident on the R55 at the intersection of Waterberg Road in Olivenhoutbosch.

The supporters were from the Centurion branch of the ANC, which includes Olivenhoutbosch.

Thirteen people were injured. One person was critical and airlifted to Milpark Hospital. Seven people sustained serious injuries, while five sustained minor injuries.