Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana

Johannesburg - The DA joined a chorus of dismay on Wednesday about Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana's comments about young Afrikaner men and Calvinism.

“This is an offensive and divisive remark,” said Democratic Alliance national spokesman Mmusi Maimane.

“The (SA Human Rights Commission) must investigate it; and the minister should apologise and formally withdraw her comment,” said Maimane, who described the comment as a “gross generalisation” and “ill-informed”.

Maimane said no ethnic or racial group could be singled out in the fight against violence against women and children.

“It is a societal problem that we must all face together,” he said.

Xingwana made the remarks on Monday in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in a segment on the arrest and murder charge against paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

In the segment, which also looked at violence and gun ownership in South Africa, she said: “Young Afrikaner men are brought up in the Calvinist religion believing that they own a woman, they own a child, they own everything and therefore they can take that life because they own it.”

She added: “We also have cultural differences as well in our own communities where we have women who are forced into marriage and we are dealing with all those issues.”

The Freedom Front Plus said the remarks were a crude generalisation and factually wrong.

“The comments say more about the minister's own twisted view of Afrikaners than of real Calvinism, which preaches the exact opposite,” said FFPlus leader Pieter Mulder.

Xingwana was in Cabinet in Cape Town ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's budget speech, her spokesman Cornelius Monama said when asked for comment. He hoped to receive a response from her soon.

Mulder said: “If the same generalisations had been made about young black men, who per capita commit the most murders in South Africa, the minister would have been the first to have screamed racism and unfair generalisations.”

Mulder said the FFPlus would raise Xingwana's comments in Parliament and would submit a complaint to the commission.

“I will also be raising this issue in Cabinet as an example of irresponsible comments which do not make any contribution toward better relations in South Africa.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Christian Democratic Party said President Jacob Zuma had no option but to fire Xingwana.

“Many non-Afrikaners, black and white, are members of Calvinist churches and her latest statement could be considered as religious intolerance,” said CDP spokesman Rev Theunis Botha.

“The country does not need demolishers in Cabinet or any other place in government, but bridge-builders.”

The Afrikanerbond said Xingwana had “abused her office” and did not reflect honour or dignity in her position.

“This minister has proven beyond any doubt that she is not fit to hold office in a constitutional democracy,” Afrikanerbond secretary Jan Bosman said in a statement.

Bosman said Xingwana's statements were an “extreme verbal attack on the integrity of Afrikaners”.

“It is unwarranted, uncalled for and without any substance. At the very least the minister owes Afrikaners, men, women and children, an apology without any reservations,” Bosman said

“We can only deduce that she chose to attack Afrikaners to create a smokescreen for her total lack of any programme of action whilst 1/8minister 3/8 and to deflect from the serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement in her department and her failure to provide a report with details about these allegations to Parliament.”

The Afrikanerbond would take up the matter with Zuma's office.

Meanwhile, Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum said on Tuesday it was considering bringing a complaint before the Equality Court against Xingwana.

“Xingwana's remarks boil down to a blatant contravention of various sections of the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act,” spokesman Ernst Roets said in a statement.

“She has discriminated on the basis of race, faith and gender. On top of that, she clearly lacks the necessary expertise to talk knowledgeably on the topic.”

Roets said AfriForum had submitted the matter to its legal team. - Sapa