Hottentots-Holland High School, in between Somerset West and Strand in the Western Cape, has made the decision to cancel a concert featuring controversial Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr and his son Armand following “threats and rumours of protest action and the possibility of damages to the school property and by extension, possibly injuries”.
The school also said, in a statement from its governing body, there had also been numerous telephonic complaints as well as “unwanted and prejudicial attention and statements from the public on social media which [have] brought our good name into disrepute”.
The statement said the school “strives to be an educational institution of excellence, where learners of all races, creeds, cultures and religions feel safe and protected to further their education.”
The statement cites the governing body’s duty to “ensure that the best interests of the school and the interest of all our learners and parents are not infringed upon by any direct, indirect or perceived action or affiliations of particular political or [other] views”.
“It has come to our attention that the reservation of our school hall is for an event which has as one of the people involved… Mr Steve Hofmeyr. Mr Hofmeyr has in recent times correctly or incorrectly established himself as a polarising figure politically and culturally within the South African context,” the statement continues.
The statement continues to say that due to the “possible representational damage” the concert would have caused, the called an emergency meeting and made a decision to cancel the rental agreement with the promoter of the concert.
The Citizen spoke to this promoter, Andries “Vossie” Vosloo, prior to the concert’s cancellation, who said this was a simple matter of him hiring space from the school.
“We discussed the matter with the school before we hired the school hall. For them or for us it’s the same as if they hire the school hall for a wedding or a school function,” he said.
The department of education in the Western Cape, however, said the school did not know Hofmeyr specifically would be performing.
Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for the MEC for education in the Western Cape, Debbie Schäfer said: “Through our engagements with the district, we are informed that the school governing body was unaware that Steve Hofmeyer would be performing at the school when the contract was signed. We are also informed that the school governing body is seeking legal advice in terms of cancelling the contract.”
Before the school made the decision to cancel, those who objected to the upcoming concert had tried to get Schäfer to intervene, something she said she couldn’t do.
“The event is not an official school event. The school governing body hired out their school hall,” said her spokesperson Jessica Shelver.
Shelver added that while the MEC had “no power to intervene, we have been engaging with the district officials and the school in this regard”.
Asked about the MEC’s personal views on whether Hofmeyr should be performing at the school, Shelver said: “The Western Cape Government supports the right to freedom of speech. This is a fundamental human right.”
Vosloo, meanwhile, made his personal support for Hofmeyr clear.
“All the controversy regarding Steve is a lot of bulldust,” he said.
“People are making a helluva lot of noise about something that does not exist. The things he said in the past [are things] I support as a farmer who’s mother has been a victim of a farm attack and become a statistic.
“I don’t think what he’s said is wrong and that’s my opinion.
Vosloo then expressed his concern over the financial implications of cancelling the show.
“There are contracts involved in the school, with Computicket and with the artists. To say the show must be cancelled, who will cover the cost?”
“The whistleblowers must be held accountable,” he added.
The statement from the school concludes with a commitment to refund all money paid for the rental of the space.
Hofmeyr has been branded a racist for tweeting that “black people were the architects of apartheid”, for another tweet which was widely interpreted as him saying black people were more prone to rape than white people, for his expressions of regret for voting “yes” in the referendum that led to a democratic South Africa, and his assertion that the Sharpeville massacre was not a human rights transgression.
He has also been met with outrage for his behaviour outside of social media. He wrote a song dedicated to the late far-right AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche, once threatening to sing a version of the lyrics with the k-word in them as retribution for Julius Malema’s singing of Dubul’iBhunu (Shoot the Boer), and has repeatedly sung Die Stem both locally and internationally.
His reputation as a racist has led to sponsors MTN and Toyota pulling out of the Afrikaans is Groot festival due to his inclusion on the line-up and to Multichoice announcing that they would no longer screen any content that featured Hofmeyr on satellite service DStv.