Columnist Max Du Preez

Columnist Max Du Preez took issue with Sapa on social networking site Twitter on Thursday evening about a report that he had called the ANC “motherf***ers”.

“Hey Sapa, go read the original FB stuff before you report on my 'profanities'. I did no such thing. Bad journalism,” Du Preez tweeted on Thursday evening.

He then replied to another Twitter user's message saying: “Shoddy reporting – (at)SapaNews didn't even bother to go to source or ask me. The word simply means 'rascal' today”.

The ANC scolded Du Preez in a statement issued to the media on Thursday, for using the word “maaifoedies” to describe the ruling party.

Sapa editor Mark van der Velden said on Friday the agency stood by its report on this.

Du Preez's remarks had only become newsworthy when the ANC formally took issue with him, said Van der Velden.

Sapa merely reported on the ANC statement, in which spokesman Jackson Mthembu describes Du Preez's use of the word “maaifoedie” as a “profanity”.

The Sapa report quoted from Du Preez's Facebook page, as background to the story on the ANC issuing a statement about it.

Van der Velden said: “Max was a veteran journalist and interesting commentator, but he's put his foot in it this time. Instead of trying to blame Sapa for his predicament, he should rather sit back and take a deep breath.”

Attempts to get hold of Du Preez on Friday morning were unsuccessful.

On his Facebook status on Thursday, Du Preez said in Afrikaans: “'n Ou ANC-kameraad stuur vanoggend vir my 'n epos met groot woede oor die ANC en die Dalai Lama-debakel. 'Sulke maaifoedies!' seg hy – en wonder toe waar die lekker ou woord vandaan kom. (An Old ANC comrade sent me an email this morning with great anger over the ANC and the Dalai Lama debacle. 'Such maaifoedies!', he said – and then wondered where this nice old word originated from.)”

Du Preez then went on to explain the meaning according to a book on Afrikaans etymology.

“Volgens Boshoff en Nienaber se Afrikaanse Etimologie van 1967 is dit – met permissie gese, en hou jou pietistiese ore toe – eintlik die Afrikaans vir die Amerikaanse skelwoord motherf*****. (According to Boshoff and Nienaber's Afrikaans Etymology of 1967 it is – with permission said, and cover your pietist ears – actually the Afrikaans for the American abusive word motherf*****.)

“Die wisselterm daarvoor is 'moerneuker'. 'Maai' kom uit Maleis vir 'moeder', ook 'moer' in die ou dae. Die -foedie kom uit Portugees, foder (Frans foutre), volgens Boshoff en Nienaber se mooi eufimisme beteken dit 'koitus verrig'. (A variant term for that is 'moerneuker'. The word 'maai' is from Malay and means 'mother', also 'moer' in the old days. The 'foedie' comes from Portuguese, 'foder' (French foutre), according to Boshoff and Nienaber's nice euphemism meaning 'committing coitus'.)

“Die woord maaifoedie kom dus uit die ou Maleis-Portugees, 'n taal wat die meeste slawe in SA in die 17de en vroee 18de eeu magtig was en wat 'n sterk invloed op vroee Afrikaans gehad het. So ek se ook aan die ANC-leierskap vanoggend: Julle maaifoedies! (The word 'maaifoedie' thus comes from the old Malay-Portuguese, a language that most slaves in South Africa and in the 17th and early 18th century spoke and which had a strong influence on early Afrikaans… ”

On Thursday, while reporting on the ANC statement, Sapa translated Du Preez's status and used the quote from his Facebook page, saying: “So I say also to the ANC leadership this morning: You maaifoedies!”.

The ANC scolded Du Preez, over the “profanities” he made about the ruling party on Facebook and said he owed the ANC and all South Africans an apology.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the “curse” was unacceptable.

In response to the ANC's statement, Du Preez again wrote on his Facebook status saying: “Maaifoedie is a perfectably (sic) acceptable word in good company, but I explained via an old book on Afrikaans etymology that originally actually meant the same as the American swear word.

“I did NOT call the ANC 'motherf*****s'. Has the ANC gone completely and utterly mad?” – Sapa