Far-right turn hits Steve Hofmeyr in the pocket

03 December 2014 - 15:36 By Werner Swart
Steve Hofmeyr. File photo
Steve Hofmeyr. File photo
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lisa Hnatowicz

Steve Hofmeyr was once a moderate man who believed in the ideals of a rainbow nation. He proudly posed with his kids alongside Nelson Mandela for a magazine cover shoot.

Later he braaied with would-be president Jacob Zuma and said: "Zuma is one of the few leaders with whom I would sit around a fire.

"He's an honest man and speaks like an Afrikaner - a straightforward person."

But back then he was pretty much the guy who was in the news over his skirt-chasing ways. He made music, his albums sold and his fans were loyal.

Then he made the leap from a seemingly moderate oke to a far-right character and systematically alienated even his once-adoring fans.

More recently the 50-year-old musician and occasional actor has been at the centre of racial outbursts with shocking unsolicited statements, mainly on Twitter and Facebook.

Last month he posted a tweet: "Sorry to offend but in my books blacks were the architects of apartheid. Go figure."

This triggered a storm of outrage with calls for boycotts and for his sponsors to drop him.

Last Thursday, the Randburg Magistrate's Court set aside an interim protection order Hofmeyr got against satirist Conrad Koch and his puppet, Chester Missing.

Koch, through his puppet's Twitter account, launched a campaign to pile pressure on companies that sponsor the singer or concerts where he performs.

As a result of the fallout - and no doubt realising what Koch's strategy would mean to his pocket - Hofmeyr tried to gag the puppet from asking those pesky questions.

But last week the court found that, as a public figure making controversial remarks, Hofmeyr had opened himself up to criticism, and dismissed his application with costs.

Hofmeyr has been ridiculed for taking legal action, and during the courtroom drama his representative, the equally notorious Dan Roodt, grabbed Missing and declared: "Die Boere is hier om te bly (The Boers are here to stay)."

Hofmeyr followed up the court's decision with tweets saying it signalled the "end of freedom of expression" and "Can't say what I think. Can't say what I see. Can't rely on court for protection. That's where I stand."

It would seem that he has made more enemies among white people than among the black South Africans he has angered.

Political commentator Dr Piet Croucamp of the University of Johannesburg said that if Hofmeyr thought his drastic shift to the right would appeal to the race which bought his CDs, he had made a costly mistake.

"White people may be considered quite conservative in their political beliefs, but I also think they have a hefty dislike for any form of right-wing politics," said Croucamp.

"This is why someone like Eugene Terre Blanche was such a marginal figure among white people. Most people saw him as a joke."

Hofmeyr's alignment with Roodt reveals much about his new radical beliefs.

Roodt, founder of the Pro-Afrikaans Action Group, is himself a man whose racist views have made him a laughing stock.

In a 2010 insert for US satirical TV programme The Daily Show, Roodt mistakenly thought he was being interviewed for a serious insert about race, only to learn that the presenter would mock his bizarre views.

Croucamp said: "The mere fact that Steve has now joined the likes of Dan Roodt shows the fundamental and destructive shift he has made. In the past he was associated with AfriForum, which can be described as conservative, but now he has thrown in his lot with the radical fundamentalists."

Although he has won awards as the bestselling South African artist more than once, Hofmeyr's flirtation with right-wing politics is sure to have an effect on his career.

And his "bromance" with Roodt could very well have killed off any hopes of a foray into politics.

Roodt launched the right-wing Front Nasionaal political party this year, promoting Afrikaner self-determination.

The party drew a paltry 5000 votes in the election.

"This party was rejected by people because of their radical beliefs," Croucamp said.

"Steve now finds himself with an even smaller pool of supporters. I doubt he would seriously consider politics.

"Even if he does, whites have shown they will distance themselves from him and deal with the fundamentalists in their own ranks," said Croucamp.

<p =""><a href="http://vimeo.com/28532814">The Daily Show - The Amazing Racists</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/timothygreenberg">Timothy Greenberg</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>