OVER-zealous South African police have arrested 36 Dutch women for wearing the Holland national colours. Orange is the colour associated with the Dutch royal family, in particular, the house of Orange-Nassau. An SAPS spokesperson says the arrests are in connection with “ambush marketing” since the dresses were bought by a Dutch beer company and constitute an offence under special legislation enacted under pressure from FIFA. “We view ambush marketing in a very serious light and we urge people not to embark on these ambush campaigns,” police said in a statement.
According to About.Com, “The lineage of the current dynasty — the House of Oranje-Nassau — dates back to Willem van Oranje (William of Orange). But while the color orange has royal roots in the Netherlands, today it symbolizes a broader pride in the country and in being Dutch.”
South Africa shares history with Holland. The Orange Free State was one of the country’s provinces, during the last republic. Although the colour Orange was dropped when the Orange Free State became the Free State, and the national flag, known as the Y-Front, turned from Orange to Red, the colour still carries an emotional resonance, especially with expatriots living abroad, and a large local Dutch population.
South Africa has about 15000 immigrants from the Netherlands, all of whom support their national team and wear Orange at least once a year on Queens Day. There is also a large number of Afrikaners and “Boers” who associate the colour with the history of the Cape, for example, Jan Van Riebeeck was a dutchman and the Cape was a Dutch colony until the British occupation.
A Fifa spokesperson added insult to injury by describing the women as nothing more than “advertising mules”. According to Wikipedia, a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. It appears two women were detained overnight while the rest were allowed to sign an admission of guilt and pay a fine. According to the Cape Argus, Mirthe Nieuwpoort and Barbara Castelein appeared in Johannesbug Magistrates Court yesterday and were let out on R10 000 bail. They are to appear back in court on June 22.
The Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhaagen reportedly phoned his South African counterpart and said: “The charges and the arrest of the two women disproportionate and incorrect.”