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:
Hofmeyr has become known for defending the apartheid flag, and for tweeting that “blacks were the architects of apartheid”.
According to Hofmeyr’s opinion piece, “The full reality of SA is beyond their comprehension because they could never escape the homeland mentality.”
Some other users hit out, challenging Hofmeyr’s comment as unfounded for an individual who had never lived in a homeland.
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.
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.
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.
On Monday morning, Hofmeyr seemingly responded to all the heat by posting his monthly “racist check-in”.
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.