Former president Nelson Mandela’s assistant Zelda La Grange sparked a debate on Twitter on Saturday after saying she felt white people were not welcome in South Africa.
At 9.10am La Grange tweeted: “I’m sure comments like: unafrican 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 Saturday 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, who also changed her Twitter handle to Zelda Van Riebeeck.
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 opportunity, 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 on Twitter 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.
At 9.55am La Grange tweeted: “I’m SICK of Jacob Zuma’s constant go at whites every few months. Why can’t we co-exist without it having to be at the expense of one another”.
“You can call me names as much as you want. Optimism is a choice but difficult if you are reminded of yr skin colour and blamed for the past”
Later, at 11.45am La Grange said she did not understand why people were “making such noise” because she also spoke out when Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr was “being racist”
She said she would speak out if anyone blamed race for anything.
Joining in on the twitter debate and tweeting to another Twitter user who commented on the La Grange twitter comments, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema tweeted that he thought she made a mistake and that she “will come around”.
Radio and television presenter Anele Mdoda said she would not get into any debates and tweeted: “Only 1 thing eases my discern wit @ZeldalaGrangeSA &it’s that she gives her own Afrikaans people as much grief when she is unhappy wit them”.
Later, La Grange tweeted: “I will say I’m sorry if it appeared like I was generalizing. As I said before, there are good people and bad people in all communities.”
“I was called a ‘wit h**r’ by white people on 30 Dec for defending equality and democracy. And that’s what I will continue to defend.”
Radio presenter Redi Tlhabi tweeted at La Grange and said she would give her a “different perspective on the deficiency” of her arguments.
She said Zuma has a go at a lot of people all the time and it did not cross minds to “threaten” to leave or mobilise others to do so because the roots that make people South African cannot be annihilated.
“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.
She said she did not believe that La Grange was a racist or that she faked her affection for Mandela.
La Grange’s tweets caused an outrage by some twitter users, @Neza4real tweeted: “So this reject called #Zeldalegrange who was resuscitated by Madiba now talks as if she is a second Mandela, drop the mask Madiba is no more”.
Another tweeted: “i will never be mad at Zelda van Riebeeck cause she thinks she is a black trapped in a white skin just by association”.
Another user, @ChristineQunta said: “What people with a dislocated consciousness like @ZeldalaGrangeSA shows once more is that rainbow nationism only postponed things”.
At a rally in Cape Town to mark the African National Congress’s 103rd birthday earlier this year, a praise singer said he needed to exorcise the spirit of Van Riebeeck before the rally could get underway.
“I have to clear the spirit of Jan van Riebeeck from this place first.”
And 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 sail from the Netherlands to 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.”