Facebook post on Van Niekerk welcome debunked

2015-09-17 11:58

Johannesburg - A Facebook post claiming new world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk was not greeted by anyone but his mother upon his return to South Africa has been debunked.

User Rene Smit posted on Tuesday that Van Niekerk was from Cape Town and had arrived home following his victory in Beijing in August. Instead of being greeted by cameras, media and supporters, the only person to greet him was apparently his mother. 

"Why not???? Why the hell not???? No excuse!!!! Where is the support South Africa!!!" Smit said in a post that was shared many times.

It turns out Van Niekerk was in fact passing through OR Tambo International Airport on a stop over before flying to Bloemfontein, which he calls home. 

When Van Niekerk arrived at Bram Fischer International Airport in the City of Roses, he received a hero's welcome, with all the camera, lights and action befitting South Africa's newest athletics world champion. 

City Press reported on August 30 that Van Niekerk was born in Cape Town and moved to Bloemfontein with his mother when he was 13-years-old.

Twitterati caught a whiff of Smit's post, immediately directing queries to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who is usually one of the first to greet South Africans arriving back home from successful sporting endeavors overseas. 

Even one media house reported on Van Niekerk not receiving a hero's welcome upon his return to South Africa.

However, Van Niekerk himself on Wednesday re-tweeted a Twitter user explaining to another user that the 400m world champion had received a welcome in Bloemfontein, where according to City Press he is studying marketing at the University of the Free State. 

Mbalula, while unable to be at the airport, tweeted his congratulations to Van Niekerk.


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