Zelda La Grange apologies for Twitter comments

Zelda La Grange. Photo: REUTERS
Zelda La Grange. Photo: REUTERS

Late president Nelson Mandela's assistant Zelda La Grange issued a 14-take apology on her Twitter account on Saturday as well as a media statement after comments that whites did not feel welcome in South Africa.

"I apologise unconditionally and without reservation to all South Africans who were offended by my tweets this morning," she said in a statement.

"There is no "but" when hurting people who have nothing to do with your frustration. I am sorry," said La Grange who had also reverted to her Twitter name "Zelda" after using "Zelda van Riebeeck" during her Twitter outburst.

She said she had been out of the country for a week and tried to catch up on the news overnight.

"The three main stories in the week's news from South Africa referred to whites, colonialism and/or apartheid [president Jacob Zuma saying all the country's problems started when Jan van Riebeeck arrived in 1652; Zuma calling journalist Max du Preez a racist and the ANC opposing a street in Cape Town being named after former president FW de Klerk]," she said.

She said she then saw on the television screen in the airplane a headline - the only item that referred to South Africa: "South Africa in worst debt of 20 years: Rand softens".

"No article. Just a headline and I got angry. In an attempt to express my disdain at events, I failed to provide context and it appeared that I was generalising," she said.

"My example of white people calling me a "white whore" was interpreted as me saying I have black friends and I defend black people all the time, therefore I am exempt from a lashing when I step out of line. That is simply not the case."

In her apology, which was similar to the 14 takes she sent on Twitter, La Grange said: "Colonisation was a terrible thing that happened to our country, but I cannot erase or change it. I apologise for glamorising it, but there are times when I feel it is regarded as the only wrong thing to have happened to this country.

"Yet we have a system that still wrongs people every day. Sorry if I have ruined your faith in me."

She said Madiba was the hardest on her and her first apology went to him for appearing to generalise.

"I am a proud South African Afrikaner wanting to build the future of our country. I cannot speak on anyone's behalf, but I can tell you how I feel."

She said : "We are all frustrated and angry about the state of affairs for different reasons. But that frustration is not limited to race or culture."

She said all that the racial "blame game" achieved was to distract from the real problems.

"These are corruption, mismanagement, inequality and the delivery of basic services.

"On any day our democracy is better than apartheid. But it does not mean we should not be critical of our state of affairs."

Earlier on Twitter she wrote on @zeldalagrangeSA: "I'm sure comments like: Un-African to have dogs, stress is western creation, Van Riebeeck etc all good for investment in SA".

In a follow up tweet she said she would call Jan van Riebeeck on to ask him what he was thinking when he sailed to Africa.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee responded saying:

"@ZeldalaGrangeSA but Zeldina, in a newish South Africa, why must one group with less melanin have a larger welcome mat, if we're equal?"

Zeldina was Mandela's nickname for La Grange.

La Grange said she would ask French President Francois Hollande if he wanted her because "the organisation that praises [Zimbabwean president Robert] Mugabe but condemns [former president FW] De Klerk doesn't want us in SA".

"Yes Mr De Klerk was the last Apartheid President and gave in under pressure BUT he could have held onto power = civil war," she tweeted.

"De Klerk surrendered power or he could have stayed in power like the other anarchists and corrupt heads of state around us.

"If I was a white investor I would more or less leave now. It's very clear from Jacob Zuma whites are not wanted or needed in South Africa."

She said next time a white business man from America or Europe brought an investment with job opportunities, they should be told they were not wanted in SA.

She said white foreign investors should stop making BEE partners rich and that Zuma made it clear that white people were not welcome in South Africa.

"Oh wait. Whites' tax money is good enough for Nkandla but then you constantly have to be brutalized", she tweeted.

The tweets caused a stir with various hash tags being formed including #Zeldalagrange, #zelda and #ZeldaDoesntEvenKnow.

The latter hashtag featured comments on black South Africans' experiences of racial discrimination.

@MTshwete wrote: When the CPT club has reached its black quota limit and you have to call your boy to come out so that you can swap #*ZeldaDoesntEvenKnow.

@SiyaBeyile wrote: When you crossing road and the white folk lock their car doors as you walking past #*ZeldaDoesntEvenKnow.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema tweeted that he thought she made a mistake and that she "will come around".

Radio presenter Redi Tlhabi tweeted at La Grange: "Yr lamentation about whites not welcome suggests that being South African is a plot u have internalised rather than an irrevocable identity," she tweeted.

"I don't understand why you need anyone to welcome you to your home unless at a deep level you function through the prism of "us" and "them"".

Tlhabi said it was not just "white tax" that built Zuma's homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal but the taxes of all South Africans.

Another user, @ChristineQunta said: "What people with a dislocated consciousness like @ZeldalaGrangeSA shows once more is that rainbow nationism only postponed things".

At an ANC birthday fundraiser, Zuma told guests "all the trouble began" in 1652 when Van Riebeeck landed in the Cape.

Van Riebeeck was an administrator for the Dutch East India company who set up a refreshment station in 1652 in Cape Town for fleets rounding the Cape.

SA History online noted that: "For centuries most writers of South African history regarded the arrival of Europeans in this southern region of Africa as the starting point of South African history."


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