Tshwane to come to a standstill

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pretoria - The capital city is expected to come to a standstill when the country's three medallists - Caster Semenya, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, and Tshepo Mokwena - will parade the streets.

The City of Tshwane's Console Tleane has warned that several roads will be closed.

The roads to be closed will be: Church Street, Prinsloo, Pretorius, Church Square and Paul Kruger.

Mr Tleane has urged people to come out in their numbers to welcome the athletes, who are expected to meet President Jacob Zuma ahead of the parade at the Presidential Guesthouse.

"The city encourages those who are able to, should come and give those athletes a hero's welcome," Mr Tleane told BuaNews.

"The intention is to shift the emphasis back to the country's sporting achievements and show that it stands proud despite the controversy."

South Africans have rallied behind Caster, who was asked to take a gender test just hours before winning the 800m final in Berlin last week.

Caster and her male counterpart in the 800m, Mulaudzi, cracked gold and long jumper Mokoena took silver at the International Amateur Athletics Federation's World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

The rainbow nation's pride was evident when Team SA touched down at the OR Tambo International Airport a short while ago. Ordinary South Africans were joined by sports officials and politicians among others, to welcome the athletes.

Caster's masculine build and her rapid improvements in performance have led to doubts about her gender.

However, the South African public and various sectors have largely expressed outrage at the allegations, with even government ministers speaking out against the controversy.

North West Premier Maureen Modiselle is expected to take part in a picket outside the provincial legislature in Mmabatho at noon.

The picket, which will take place at an open space between the Provincial Legislature building and the Mmabatho High Court will also express outrage at the treatment Caster endured at the hands of IAAF.

Premier Modiselle described Caster as a "patriot of exceptional talent."