The CEO of the short-term insurance company MiWay issued a lengthy statement on Sunday night following a week of social media attacks and boycott calls. René Otto's recent tweets about The Lost Boys of Bird Island, a book about apartheid-era paedophilia, triggered furious condemnation from right-wingers.
Busy reading The Lost Boys of Bird Island....shocking! Another example that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely! Where is the justice for the victims?— Rene Otto (@reneotto5901) August 8, 2018
“The Lost Boys of Bird Island” is a must-read for white Saffas - especially Afrikaners who believe they are God’s chosen people - who are still in denial about the destruction of the Apartheid-era. It left me gutted. What do we learn from this and can we ever make amends?— Rene Otto (@reneotto5901) August 9, 2018
He was roundly criticised on social media, including by AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, who called for his resignation.
A far-right critic, who calls himself a “Real Life Boer” last week launched a YouTube video calling on MiWay clients to object with the company for “demonising white South Africans”. The video has been downloaded more than 33,000 times.
Other people who objected to Otto's tweets included economist Mike Schüssler:
I would say Paedophiles is what you hate. John Wiley and Dave Allen were English Speaking BTW and not Afrikaans speaking. Yes, Magnus was Afrikaans so probably the other person. But why even mention Afrikaners you just making life difficult for yourself and your firm.— mike schussler (@mikeschussler) August 17, 2018
Some of the critics called on Santam, who owns a majority stake in MiWay, to intervene.
Following the vitriol on social media, Otto released a statement on Sunday night, saying that he never implied that all Afrikaners are paedophiles and murderers. "In fact, I regard the vast majority of Afrikaners as honourable, hard-working people who make a massive contribution to the country in all walks of life.
The tweets were an attempt to challenge Afrikaans-speaking South Africans to debate their role in nation building, but Otto said he "failed miserably".
Last year, MiWay faced a storm of criticism after one of its employees supposedly called black people “baboons” in an email. In the end, the email turned out to be fake.
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