By Sheree Bega, 18 January 2014
He is white, Afrikaans and loves country music – and he’s a proud member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Wiekus Kotze is a self-proclaimed radical and militant who believes that party leader Julius Malema is the most inspirational person he has ever met.
“This man (Malema) has got an incredible understanding into everything concerning politics and the economy in SA,” says Kotze, the EFF’s trademark red beret planted firmly on his head.
“He can reason with an insight that is not matched in this country. You listen to him speaking in a meeting and you think ‘this man is much greater than the media makes him out to be’.
“He has a tremendous understanding of where this country can go. I admire his guts and his fearlessness. You need a person like that to be in Parliament. Julius Malema is gifted.”
Since Kotze, the former chief accountant of the Ekurhuleni municipality, started wearing his red beret last month when he joined the EFF, he has been met with dirty looks and angry shouts of “traitor” and “idiot”, especially in his conservative hometown of Alberton.
But among the EFF’s supporters – Kotze was announced part of its Gauteng central command structure last week – he is well received.
“I’m well loved because of the principles I stand for,” says the 40-year-old, who is short, squat and sports a moustache.
“There are a lot of people who support what I am doing. There is not a township in this province I do not know inside out. But I guess that seeing me in the EFF is like seeing a black man in the FF Plus,” he says, laughing heartily.
Kotze grew up in Brits as a “full-blooded Afrikaner.
But my parents raised us very well – not to see colour.
I went home with a black girlfriend.
My mother and father didn’t die or fall off a chair.
They accepted that – she was loved, respected and nursed my mother on her deathbed after we got married.
“My parents were voting for the ANC from 1994 – they supported everything that came with Mandela, with forgiveness.”
He is now married to a “black African queen”, Palesa, and has paid lobola for her.
He has two young children with his first wife and shares them amicably with her.
But with politics, the anger over his EFF affiliation runs deep.
“There’s a lot of social media abuse obviously. When the announcement was made of my position in the EFF, there were over 500 comments from Afrikaans-speaking people on the Boere Krisis website, who lashed out at me.
“Some of the things you cannot even repeat. They told me I was an idiot, a fool, that I was sucking up to black people, that I was a traitor betraying my white skin.
“I only ask them: ‘What is a white skin? Is your skin colour making you superior because if you’re saying I’m betraying a white skin, it simply means you still believe a white skin is superior. I’m saying to them ‘you still suffer from a Verwoerd mentality based on the fact you are white and then, your language is Afrikaans.’
“So I feel they have placed themselves on an island in SA, which has completely detached them from the normal society in SA and for me, reconciliation came but they never partook in it.
“They never came to the party. It’s about what I did since 1994, to help build a school, lay a brick. But as far as the whites are concerned, they didn’t do anything. That’s the problem. Now 20 years later, they’ve got the luxury of blaming the ANC.”
Last week, amid the backlash, Twitter suspended his account. “I got so much abuse, to the point they were actually threatening my life, telling me they had bullets with my name written on it, that what I said in my Twitter reply to them was: ‘Kill the Boer, kill the farmer.’”
Those six provocative words caused havoc. “They reported me to the Human Rights Commission, the DA, the police. But I don’t mean physical killing but killing of the system of oppression, of apartheid, that was forcefully imposed by the government, by the Afrikaners.
“So I know for a fact that gets to them (his detractors). You may hate the truth but when you go back home tonight, you’ll think ‘this Wiekus guy irritates me, but he’s got a point’ because I’m saying things that are so truthful and painful.”
He thinks he is hitting a raw nerve. “I enjoy it because it means I’m scratching something that doesn’t want to be scratched. I believe white people left a mess in this country.
“The mess of apartheid, of a government that is basically bankrupt, a country well developed and maintained but only for a certain section of the community whereby the majority was excluded from its benefits.”
He was an ANC member for the past 16 years – his first vote was for the party, he professes – but by last year, he could not longer support it. “Jacob Zuma lost it,” he says. Kotze joined AgangSA, but claims he was suspended as he was fighting to bring “democratic processes” into the party.
“I didn’t just jump into the EFF. I looked at the seven basic pillars of strength and visualised it in the current state, and you know what? Most of the things in the EFF make sense and can work.
“It’s not about land grabbing. It’s about nationalisation for certain sectors of the economy that are not functioning properly like the mines and the banks. We’re going to expropriate land without compensation because the willing buyer, willing seller principle has not worked.
“All land will be in the ownership of the state. We’re not going to take it haphazardly. People will have 25-year licences to work the land.
“The EFF has nothing to do with destroying white people; it’s all to do with upliftment and economic emancipation of the poor. You’ll find white squatter camps that will benefit from EFF and come into a working environment, a housing environment and sanitation. But economic freedom means the majority of the people need to be economically emancipated. It’s a revolution against poverty and capitalism, and it’s about creating state capacity, doing away with tenders. We would rather have state construction companies.”
He believes the EFF can win the election – he will lead the charge to seize Joburg – and spends his weekends planning the takeover strategy or relaxing with family and friends at braais. Always, there’s country music playing.
Or kwaito. “Ja, it’s got a lekker beat,” he smiles. – Saturday Star