Chief Whip of the Inkatha Freedom Party, Koos van der Merwe during a press briefing in Morelete Park, Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe


Parliament, Cape Town - An announcement by an IFP MP was mistaken for a Van der Merwe joke in a National Assembly sitting on Tuesday.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Koos Van der Merwe informed MPs he would be attending a huge feast near Paarl.

“Thousands of Van der Merwes will gather there to celebrate being the number one family in South Africa,” said the long serving MP.

He told the house that “both Van der Merwes” currently serving in the National Assembly would be adding “glory to this historic event”.

The other Van der Merwe MP to whom he referred was fellow IFP member Liezl van der Merwe.

The veteran MP had to amend his statement when he remembered there was a third Van der Merwe in the house.

“Mr Speaker, I forgot the other beautiful Van der Merwe, Sue (ANC MP) ... If we don't invite her, she will sue us.”

Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel took the opportunity to jump up and ask the Speaker whether it was “parliamentary to tell Van der Merwe jokes in the chamber”.

A Van Der Merwe festival will be held in Paarl this weekend. On the website, it is called the “Van der Merwe 352 festival”.

“In April 2013, it will be exactly 352 years ago that Willem Schalk Van der Merwe set foot on the shores of Table Bay on 26 April 1661,” according to the website.

Tickets for the weekend festival were being sold via Computicket, at R250 each.

“With Van der Merwe Festival 352, we want to delve into our past and be reminded of our ancestors, and give thanks to those who carved the way through the wild Cape of 1661 to where we as descendants stand in 2013,” the website continues.

The festival is open to all.

“When gathered together, aren't we all Van der Merwes?” the website asks. - Sapa