‘This is not the time to retaliate’

2015-04-09 00:00

PRETORIA — The public debate around the fate of South Africa’s historic statues continued to rage yesterday, with a rally by Afrikaner activists at the Paul Kruger monument in Pretoria.

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter ­Groenewald asked why President Jacob Zuma kept quiet while the EFF were burning down the country.

“President Zuma, why are you so ­quiet? Why are you fleeing from your ­responsibilities?” Groenewald said.

“It is your responsibility to ensure that we live together in peace in South Africa.

“The EFF is busy burning down South Africa and it was in no one’s interest.”

The FF Plus laid charges against the EFF after the latter admitted to being ­behind the defacing of the statue.

Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr called on his supporters not to react to the vandalism of statues after the statue of Paul Kruger and two bronze sentries in Pretoria were defaced with green paint. “I am aware of English and Afrikaner activists on high alert right now to retaliate the moment this monument or any other monument is removed,” Hofmeyr told supporters gathered at the foot of Kruger’s statue yesterday.

“For civilised South Africans this is not the time to retaliate. We give the ­government and heritage councils the benefit of the doubt to fix this or clean up after their apathy.”

Hofmeyr said government should use taxpayers’ money to build new roads and name them whatever it thought appropriate for a shared heritage instead of changing the names of existing ones.

“We are the sum total of all our history, not just the fun parts for you. Whereas history serves most civilisations, South Africa prefers to be enslaved by its history.”

He said illiteracy was to blame for the recent defacement of historical statues, particularly Kruger’s.

Flanked by men in military uniform from the controversial Commando Corps, Hofmeyr took a swipe at ­Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, accusing him of hypocrisy.

“Methinks that fat old lady in his red overall protests a little too much. With one arm around the liberation and the other tucked away in the spoils of ­Western benefits,” Hofmeyr said.

Hofmeyr made his address in English and ended it by singing Die Stem, with his supporters joining in. A small group of opposition activists performed a ­rendition of Nkosi Sikekel’ iAfrika in ­response.

Controversial Afrikaans singer Sunette Bridges told cheering supporters that Malema was a criminal for encouraging the vandalism of statues in the country. “If I told my followers to deface Nelson Mandela’s statues and there was as much as a spot of paint on them I would have been in prison,” Bridges said.

Bridges was heckled by some ­observers who were not participating in the protest, but she seemed unfazed.

“I have permission to be here and you don’t. So you keep quiet or get your own gathering somewhere else,” she said to the cheers of her following.

After Hofmeyr finished his address, Bridges chained herself to one of the bronze sentries. Although she only did this as a photo opportunity, she said they would remain symbolically chained to the statue.

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