Tweet power: How a few well-aimed barbs persuaded brands to ditch Afrikaans Is Groot event

Steve Hofmeyr has not responded to sponsors withdrawing.
Steve Hofmeyr has not responded to sponsors withdrawing.
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lisa Hnatowicz

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was one of the more prominent voices on social media behind a successful bid to get major sponsors to pull out of the Afrikaans Is Groot event, where musician Steve Hofmeyr was one of the performing artists.

One tweet at a time, Lesufi called out to brands like Coca-Cola, DStv, Toyota and MTN to distance themselves from the event.

A Steve Hofmeyr tweet from 2014 resurfaced on social media late last week, in which the singer claimed black people were the architects of apartheid. Lesufi was quick to react, telling cellphone giant MTN its "sponsorship of this person's (Hofmeyr's)" involvement in the concert was "an insult to peace-loving citizens".

Shortly after, the service provider responded to his tweet, saying they had made a decision to cut ties with the event. Along with other members of the public, the education MEC then tweeted other brands, urging them to take similar action. 

Channel 24 spoke to many of the sponsors of the event including MTN, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Toyota did not commit to withdrawing its sponsorship, but instead said the creative process of the events they sponsor is not part of the contractual agreement. 

Coca-Cola did not respond directly to Lesufi, but he took to Twitter to share their response to the publication. 

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE reached out to Hofmeyr's management to get his comment on the matter, but they had not responded at the time of publication. 

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