Netizens divided over ‘privileges’ afforded to superfans like ‘Mama Joy’

Not everyone his overjoyed that Mama Joy Chauke, seen here at Orlando stadium, Soweto, got paid a fortune to watch the Rugby World Cup in France. File Picture: Karen Sandison / Independent Newspapers

Not everyone his overjoyed that Mama Joy Chauke, seen here at Orlando stadium, Soweto, got paid a fortune to watch the Rugby World Cup in France. File Picture: Karen Sandison / Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 4, 2024


Mama Joy, whose real name is Joy Chauke, benefited to the tune of R1.3 million from taxpayers to fund a trip to France for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The money was sponsored by Zizi Kodwa’s Department of Sport, which spent big bucks on Mama Joy and superfan Botha Msila, for their travel and accommodation costs in France during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Taxpayers also spent R450,000 on the travel and accommodation costs of Police Minister Bheki Cele’s executive secretary, who travelled to Paris with the minister. President Cyril Ramaphosa also travelled to France and witnessed the Boks clinch their fourth world cup crown.

Flying the flag

Mama Joy and Botha, as they are both known to the sports loving public, were ever constants as the Boks clinched a record fourth world cup, flying the SA flag high during the games. They were routinely captured by television cameras as the world cup was beamed around the world.

The well-known sports enthusiast, Mama Joy, started her spectator ‘career’ over 30 years ago as an ardent fan of Orlando Pirates FC.

She was named Sports Fan of the Year at the 2023 Momentum GSports Awards, based on her impressive track record as a superfan who is often captured in the stands for her team.

The awards honour women who have made their mark in South African and worldwide sport, recognising their achievements in a male-dominated field.

Mama Joy deflected to Shauwn Mkhize’s Durban outfit Royal AM FC three years ago.

R1.3 million to raise the flag

However, according to X user Renaldo Gouws, who received information from the Department of Sport through a PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act), over R1.3 million was spent on the superfans during the France trip.

This has left a sour taste in some netizens’ mouths. Netizens are defined as “internet citizens“.

The saga over the amount spent on Mama Joy and co began during the Rugby World Cup in October last year, when Gouws questioned if taxpayer funds had been used to fund the trip to France.

“I was today years old when I found out that these two are paid by the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture to go and be supporters in the stands. I am not joking, they are paid by taxpayers to go to sporting events across the world to ”represent“ South Africa,” he posted at the time.

The defence of superfans

At the time, this led to a back and forth between Gouws and Mama Joy, who then posted her French breakfast during one of her clapback responses.

At the time, the Department of Sports defended their support of superfans Mama Joy and Botha at the Rugby World Cup in France.

“The department is noting with concern the negative reactions and comments by some South Africans concerning the presence of Mama Joy Chauke and Botha Msila at the 2023 Rugby World Cup to support the Springboks and raise the South African flag.

“It’s concerning that when the world recognises their presence, thus celebrating the contribution of South African supporters at the World Cup, two of South Africa’s superfans are receiving criticism and insults from within the country,” the department said in October last year,

Last week, relying on information obtained through PAIA, Gouws said:

“They spent R1,361,000 on two superfans on flights and accommodation alone, and this was just for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. How did they select them? Well, according to the Department, there is not actually an official initiative.

“The ‘superfans’ managed to speak to the department at OR Tambo on August 28, 2023 (11 days before the tournament started) and asked if they could go. What’s quite strange then is how some of these ‘superfans’ appear to always be at the right place at the right time,” he wrote.

Some of the comments on the post included:

“This is why Africa will never be Wakanda. The obsession with hurting white people even though its hurting you more.

“This was not a good idea. But the fact it's driving so many of you up the wall makes me happy. The department must do this even with friendly games.

“How many South African sports stars are unable to live out their dreams due to lack of funding? But no, rather send ”superfans’ to go and live the lavish lifestyle all over the world.

“All this spending on two individuals while our National Women’s Water Polo Team had to withdraw from the Olympics because of a lack of support from the government.

“Meanwhile the whole of South Africa: Please sir, can we have some electricity? ANC Gov: lol no, we need to spend millions to go watch the Rugby. Maybe you’ll get lucky and there won't be load shedding so you can watch it too.”

Note: This article has been updated to reflect that the money was spent on the superfans travel and accommodation.