Johannesburg - Chief executive of MiWay Insurance Rene Otto on Monday apologised for the "hurt and offense" caused by several tweets he sent following the release of controversial book, The Lost Boys of Bird Island.
Otto came under fire after he tweeted his thoughts on the book, which is about high-ranking former National Party officials allegedly being part of a paedophile ring involving cabinet ministers in the late 1980s, causing a stir among predominantly Afrikaans-speaking users.
Otto, in one instance, tweeted how absolute power corrupts and questioned if there will be any justice for the victims of the alleged abuse.
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
In the second, more controversial tweet, Otto says the book is a must-read for "white Saffas - especially Afrikaners who believe they are God’s chosen people".
“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
The latter tweet garnered strong reaction from users, who accused Otto of painting all Afrikaners with the same brush and lacking moral judgement.
Other users, including AfriForum's Kallie Kriel, called for a boycott of the insurance company in the wake of the controversial tweets.
What a pity that @reneotto5901 would try to create a link between Afrikaner history & paedophiles. As CEO of @miwayinsurance he seems happy to have Afrikaner clients, whilst insulting them. If I could have it my way, Otto would be on his way. https://t.co/v29FlUH90X— Kallie Kriel (@kalliekriel) August 18, 2018
In a statement Otto apologised for the controversial tweet, explaining that it was sent in his personal capacity and "does not reflect in any way the views of MiWay".
"My intention with the tweet, whilst provocative, was not to hurt any person or culture, but to encourage the reading of the book and to challenge all South Africans, in particular the Afrikaans-speaking South Africans (which include me) to debate their role in nation building.
"In retrospect, I failed dismally. I made use of controversial words that hurt and offended many Afrikaans-speaking South Africans. Once I became aware of the hurt and offence I caused, I posted an unconditional apology on Twitter."
He goes on to say that he takes full responsibility for his actions and that it was not in his nature to be hurtful or offensive. Otto adds that he does not hate Afrikaners or believe they are all bad or 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," he said.
My official statement to clarify the controversy surrounding the “Lost Boys”- tweet, attached. pic.twitter.com/RlJsgOszGN— Rene Otto (@reneotto5901) August 19, 2018
See more reaction to Otto's tweets:
The whole belief system of a Christian is based on the fact the they are,in fact,God's chosen people - Black, White, Chinese, Indian, etc..— Paul (@FarmerpaulSA) August 16, 2018
What a way to expose your bigotry to disrespect a religion, and an entire culture like that.
You lack moral judgement.
What have the alleged crimes of a few men got to do with Afrikaners in general, Rene? Men who included english businessmen? The Afrikaner cannot be blamed for the destruction that you see in Africa and post-Apartheid SAfr. Focus on the wholesale black corruption and incompetance!— Gert hanekom (@GertHanekom) August 16, 2018
only heard about your tweet now, and I am appalled. If I as an Afrikaner said something so degrading about any other race, the world would have blown up in my face, would have been fired from my job and been charged. U think a simple apology will suffice?— Hannes Prinsloo (@HannesB1759) August 18, 2018