This is not the time to retaliate, says Hofmeyr

2015-04-08 19:28
(Ockert de Villiers, News24)

(Ockert de Villiers, News24)

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Pretoria - Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr has 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," Hofrmeyr told supporters gathered at the foot of Kruger's statue on Wednesday. 

"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.

"I am defending a Western tradition of how civilisations go about history where they have known for a long time that there is no monument in the world that doesn't offend somebody," said Hofmeyr, who was welcomed by a guard of honour and cheering supporters at 13:00.

"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."

Illiteracy to blame

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

"The call by the EFF and others to remove this statue is misguided and ill-informed, he said. 

"I think illiteracy has everything to do with it."

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.

"We're not banning other monuments, we are saying you can take all that and build as many monuments as you want."

Hofmeyr made his address in English to cater to the supporters and for those opposing his views to understand.

'Cry for help'

"We have no consensual South African history. It does not exist. But if you think you can remedy that by deflowering the heritage of others, you have some more thinking to do," he said.

"If we believe you can fix disunity by defacing the history of others, what you believe is misguided.

"The cry for the removal of some South African citizens' heritage is nothing more than a cry for help, because whose shining legacy are we going to replace it with?"

He said even former president Nelson Mandela's legacy was looking "increasingly unsightly".

"He was not only a leader and a great man, he was a conciliatory one."

He ended his address by singing Die Stem, with his supporters joining in. A small group of opposition activists performed a rendition of Nkosi Sikekel' iAfrika in response.

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

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 on Wednesday.

Bridges was heckled by some of the observers that 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.

Read more on:    eff  |  sunette bridges  |  steve hofmeyr  |  monuments debate

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