AMID the calls for fans to return to the stadiums that has put pressure on the government, Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has responded.

Mthethwa said he has been made aware of the calls made in public and one in particular by EFF leader Julius Malema in his rally in Durban last week.

Malema accused the PSL bosses of being quiet while the entertainment industry is struggling, saying the same venues where political rallies are held thousands and thousands people are turning up, but sports fans are not allowed to the stadiums.

The EFF leader didn’t end things there; he said there is a planned march in this coming week to head to the offices of the sports ministry.

However, minister Mthethwa, has taken note of numerous public announcements advocating for the opening of stadiums.

“Regrettably, such calls are uninformed in light of the ongoing action taken by DSAC over the last few months to enable access to stadiums, in a manner that protects both lives and livelihoods,” said Mthethwa in the statement.

“Whilst ensuring compliance with Covid-19 regulations and protocols, minister Mthethwa has consistently applied himself to such measures to enable the opening up of venues under his portfolio.

“With Covid-19 vaccines accessible to all South Africans, DSAC has embarked on a partnership-type approach with sport and creative personalities/bodies. The result of this has been the _“Play Your Part – Let’s Vaccinate (City to City)”_ campaign which, to date, has been rolled out in seven of our nine provinces. 

“This campaign essentially involves the encouragement of spectators and the broader public to vaccinate in order to ease positive decision-making regarding the re-opening of venues.

"The successful rollout of this campaign can be attributed to the Deputy President, Minister and Deputy Minister of Health, Premiers, MECs of various portfolios, Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of SA (CCIFSA), the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and its affiliated members, the South African Football Association (Safa) structures, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and its affiliated clubs, the South African Events Council (SAEC), the South African Rugby Union (Saru), as well as the junior soccer league (i.e. Diski Challenge).”

In October last year, it was gazetted in the Disaster Management Regulations that only 2000 persons or less are allowed to the outdoor venues “subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.”

Safa then allowed 2000 fans for the Bafana against Ethiopia; Bafana vs Zimbabwe in October and November’s World Cup qualifying matches respectively.

The PSL also allowed 2000 spectators in the MTN 8 final in Durban on 30 October.

“Government is strongly committed to economic recovery and reconstruction and appreciates the re-opening of spaces such as stadiums as a contributor to this effort. Attention therefore remains fixed on how access can be further extended without under-rating the real dangers of Covid-19.

“Discussions are already underway through Cabinet processes to look at possibilities to further increase spectator numbers. And if this is successful, it will be communicated as was done previously,” stated Minister Mthethwa.