Prominent authors Antjie Krog and Jacques Pauw have spoken of their disappointment at being featured alongside apartheid apologist and racist Steve Hofmeyr in a weekend paper.
Jacques Pauw called Hofmeyr’s piece in Rapport a “racist rant”, while poet Antjie Krog lamented the fact that the weekly Afrikaans newspaper just wanted “a bit of fun and controversy after the men have spoken the real truth”.
Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser used Pauw and Krog’s names to defend his decision to publish Hofmeyr’s opinion piece “Die val van ’n fout” by arguing that his paper expressed a variety of views.
When asked to comment on Hofmeyr’s piece, which analysed the future of the country after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to power, Pauw said the “uninformed racists rant” was “… neither intelligent nor well-written”.
“Hofmeyr appeals to a section of the white electorate and that is probably why Rapport decided to publish his racist rant,” said Pauw.
“Hofmeyr feeds on the fear and ignorance of right-wingers and [his piece] doesn’t contribute to the national debate.”
Krog believes that the manner in which her piece and opinion were presented by Pelser’s comments is another example of Afrikaner patriarchy.
“When I saw how my piece was presented, I said to myself: ‘hey what else did you expect’,” Krog told the Mail & Guardian.
As a woman, Krog said she was lumped in the same category as Hofmeyr, because neither of them would be given prominent space in publications. She argued that herself and Hofmeyr would be sidelined for male writers who were ostensibly more respected.
“Of course, the main menere would never position themselves next to Hofmeyr, nor would they use the piece of their professor-of-the-middle-page in that way. That is where the opinion of women belong – myself and Hofmeyr, the two lawaaimakers, a bit of fun and controversy after the men have spoken the real truth.”
Pelser defended his editorial decision to publish Hofmeyr’s opinion piece, saying that, like many Sunday papers, Rapport does “not shy away from controversy” even if the “drastically opposing views shock, offend or sooth”.
“Mr. Hofmeyr’s critics, in whose ranks we have been counted, too, might say that we should not have offered to publish this piece at all, given its content. But then the content of the piece we published has not once been cited as the reason for this furore,” said Pelser.
Krog did not agree with Hofmeyr’s piece, but believes that the English press has caricatured Hofmeyr, arguing that he is a “more nuanced figure in the Afrikaans speaking community”.
“He once energetically defended his fans and audience after they have been ridiculed in a review of one of his concerts as low(er) class,” she told the M&G.
Pauw said that he would not have published Hofmeyr’s piece if he was editor of Rapport, because “It gives [Hofmeyr] the oxygen he needs to regurgitate his bile.”
Pelser said that the reason for the unhappiness with Hofmeyr’s opinion in Rapport seems to be that a history of Hofmeyr’s comments and tirades over the years has rendered all of his opinions “unworthy of publication”.
The debate over whether Hofmeyr’s piece should have been published in Rapport began over the weekend when prominent journalist and columnist Max du Preez criticised it over twitter.
Rapport’s “political analyst”, pop singer Steve Hofmeyr, on ANC presidents: “The full reality of SA is beyond their comprehension because they could never escape the homeland mentality”
— Max du Preez (@MaxduPreez) February 18, 2018
Responding to criticism led by Du Preez, Pelser tweeted on Sunday:
Ai, Max. Our guest writers in the last Zuma week have included Antjie Krog, Melanie Verwoerd en Jacques Pauw. Why get so upset when you read what you don’t like? https://t.co/UmwcDKSqxT
— Waldimar Pelser (@waldimar) February 18, 2018
According to Hofmeyr’s opinion piece, “The full reality of SA is beyond their comprehension because they could never escape the homeland mentality.”
The Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport chose Steve Hofmeyr to analyse the Zuma/Ramaphosa transition & future for them – full page. What’s next, Rapport, get Penny Sparrow to write your editorials?
— Max du Preez (@MaxduPreez) February 18, 2018
Some other users hit out, challenging Hofmeyr’s comment as unfounded for an individual who had never lived in a homeland.
Yawn!! From a person who didn’t experience the homelands first hand! But, this guy knows his lunatic fringe audience very well.
— Mpho.D.Rambuda (@RambudaM) February 18, 2018
One Twitter user called for Hofmeyr to leave the country, another to banish him from social media, while most questioned Rapport’s editorial decision to publish the piece.
Hofmeyr’s comment is an apt reflection of his limited racist comprehension of the SA political. More worrying is Rapport’s editorial judgement –
— Rubin Adams (@RubinAdams) February 18, 2018
Pelser said that he had published a piece of someone with a view and asked his detractors if his decision had been wrong.
Many on twitter sided with Pelser, arguing that no-one should be censored — no matter how hated their opinion may be.
@MaxduPreez , I also love some of the stuff you write but I’m against your opinion on this, I don’t like Steve either, but I don’t think he or anyone should be censored…..
— Dale Daschner (@DaleDaschner) February 18, 2018
While other tweets challenged the notion that Rapport’s publication of Hofmeyr’s piece was enabling free speech — arguing that it was just feeding fears and insecurities. Radio journalist Ilse Salzwedel tweeted that the Rapport needs to stop feeding the fear of right-wingers.
Waldimar, I’m with @MaxduPreez on this one. Take Afrikaans readers forward, not back. And I say this as a fellow journo, somebody actively involved in the fight against a corrupt govt AND a Rapport reader. Stop feeding the fear of rightwingers. All is not lost. We CAN fix SA
— Ilse Salzwedel (@ilsesalzwedel) February 18, 2018
Him spreading his DNA amongst afrikaner folk during his heyday should be considered a war crime. He’s probably dropped the collective intelligence by several IQ points
— Asogan Moodaly (@AsoganMoodaly) February 18, 2018
On Monday morning, Hofmeyr seemingly responded to all the heat by posting his monthly “racist check-in”.
Hi everybody. Just doing my monthly Racist Check-in. pic.twitter.com/UIOq67ZniY
— Steve Hofmeyr (@steve_hofmeyr) February 19, 2018
Despite critique on his piece in Rapport, Krog said that Hofmeyr’s few literary books had “earned him some praise from tough left leaning critics”.
After repeated attempts, the M&G has yet to reach Rapport’s ombudsman.