It was a day that Kaizer Chiefs players took off their soccer boots and playing apparel and headed for the Johannesburg Prison, otherwise popularly known as ‘Sun City’.
The purpose of the trip was not to visit a teammate who has been arrested or imprisoned, but they were on a serious mission described by club spokesman Putco Mafani their “Social Responsibility” programme.
Led by dreadlocked, Ruud Gullit look-alike Kenny Niemach, Rowen Fernandez, Richard Lishivha, Rodney Thobejane and Musa Mtakwende among the senior players, the golden shirted Amakhosi engaged in a project aimed at giving lectures about the scourge of AIDS.
Niemach pointed out to the inmates the devastation caused by the killer virus but also consoled them that there was life after imprisonment.
Niemach, the spokesman for the players, said they wished to urge people both inside and outside prison, to always think about a condom whenever they make love.
“AIDS is killing our people,” said the Niemach. “And we urge you to take this scourge seriously.
“We often find that AIDS is discussed in sitting rooms. But as soon as people enter their bedrooms, they forget completely about condomising and it is wrong.”
The inmates, who could not hide their excitement at seeing their heroes at close quarters, were also treated to choral music by the Amakhosi choir while speakers drove home their AIDS message.
Dr Tiny Mhinga, Khabisi Mosunkutu, MEC for Transport in Gauteng were some of the guests who also delivered a speeches about the deadly AIDS virus and urged the inmates to seriously use condoms.
Putco Mafani, Chiefs PRO said the project was part of their Social
Responsibility programme and as charity begins at home, they felt duty bound to start preaching the gospel about AIDS at a prison that was on their doorsteps.
“In addition,” said Mafani, “we also wanted to let the inmates feel that they may be incarcerated, but when they finish serving their various sentences, they must be accommodated by society.
“I think most of them look up to soccer players as heroes and role models. We therefore feel that by bringing our players to speak to them, this will firstly make them aware that we still care and secondly, we hope, they will listen to people they hero-worship.”
Mafani added that hopefully their presence at the prison has brightened up the day for the inmates.