SIYABONGA AND Sibusiso are angry, confused and scared.

Why would a South African ref tell them to remove isiphandla? THEY ARE WORRIED


“Maybe this referee was trying to gain points at my expense,” said Golden Arrows defender Siyabonga Dube.

“I cover them up when playing. I don’t know how it affects the game,” said Dube.

He and striker Sibusiso Sibeko were ordered by referee Jelly Chavani to remove iziphandla before their match against Polokwane City in the Telkom Knockout Last 16 at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont, west of Durban, on Saturday.

Dube said wearing isiphandla is Zulu culture and has never harmed anyone. Sibeko, whose cross resulted in Polokwane City’s Nicholas Motloung scoring an own goal, said he thought the South African referee would understand.

The players are worried that what they were trying to achieve when they slaughtered cows won’t happen. Or even worse – that the ancestors will punish them.

Said Dube: “Isiphandla comes off automatically after a while,” Dube said yesterday as he held two wrist decorations in his hand.

“When I was told to take it off I knelt down and prayed in the change room. I told my ancestors the situation was beyond my control. One isiphandla broke when I tried to take it off.”

Sibeko said it wasn’t the first time this season he’d worn it.

He said: “We explained to referee Chavani and his assistants that this is our culture, but they didn’t understand. The worst part is that it was black people who told us to take it off, as if they don’t know why we wear it.”

He said his family was surprised.

“Hopefully my ancestors understand. I didn’t have a choice. I’ll have to hear from my family what to do. I’m sure there are consequences.”

Isiphandla, worn by Africans who believe in ancestral worship, is goat or cow skin that’s cut and fashioned into a wrist bracelet shortly after a ritual.

Safa technical committee chairman and former Fifa and PSL referee Jerome Damon said isiphandla is regarded as jewellery.

“It has been like that even when I was referee. Players remove it. There’s no compromise.”

He said players can’t cover it.

“They remove it when they play. The referee applied the law and was within his rights,” he said.

“We understand cultural and religious practices, but that stays outside the field of play. It doesn’t get brought onto the field of play.”

Sangoma Dungamanzi said removing isiphandla brings bad luck. He said the players needed to do rituals and tell their ancestors isiphandla had been removed.