Thousands have flooded the streets of Pretoria and Johannesburg as South Africa’s rugby team begin a World Cup victory tour.
The Springboks won the tournament for a record fourth time last weekend – and the nation is still in celebration mode.
Fans decked in the team colours packed the tour route on Thursday to get a glimpse of their champions.
The team will spend four days travelling across the country.
They kicked off the tour at Union Buildings, the seat of government, in capital city Pretoria.
From a balcony, the team and President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a rapturous crowd.
“Saturday night, you strode off the pitch of victory and passed into legend,” said Mr Ramaphosa, who has declared a public holiday on December 15 to celebrate the win.
“In doing so you have lifted the spirits of an entire nation and filled us with pride. You have united the South African people.”
The president is among many who have hailed the Springbok’s feat as a sign of hope amid a testing period for South Africa.
The country is currently suffering rolling blackouts, economic strife and the world’s highest unemployment rate.
Ntombizodwa Barry, one of many who turned out to see the squad, said: “After seeing the Springboks, I was very, very much happy.
“They brought unity to our country, especially [winger] Cheslin Kolbe, [captain] Siyamthanda Kolisi… all of them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Kolisi, the Springboks’ first black Test captain, dedicated the trophy to “the people of South Africa” on Thursday.
“We are very diverse, just like you are outside there and we just wanted to show that diversity is our strength,” he said.
For 90 years Springbok selectors chose only white players and consequently the team was reviled as a symbol of apartheid.
Thursday’s jubilant scenes demonstrate that this more inclusive team have captured hearts across South Africa.
The Springboks visited Pretoria, Johannesburg and its township of Soweto on Thursday. The tour will go to Cape Town on Friday, Durban on Saturday and East London on Sunday.
Source : BBC