The SA Literary Awards has withdrawn its award for Annelie Botes, writer of the highly acclaimed Thula Thula, for saying she did not like black people. Photo: Flickr.com

Remarks made by a prominent Afrikaans author have opened a debate about race in South Africa.

Author and columnist Annelie Botes told Rapport newspaper in an interview last week she did not like black people.

People have since either hailed Botes as “brave” or called for her to leave the country.

Asked in the Rapport interview which people she did not like, Botes paused before she answered that she would be honest despite knowing her answer would shock.

“I don’t like black people.”

She continued: “I don’t understand them! ... I know they are people just like me. I know they have the same rights as me. But I do not understand them. And then I do not like them. I avoid them because I am scared of them ... My neighbour was brutally murdered. For what?

“If black people are hungry, why don’t they, like in the old days, break in, steal the fridge and walk away? I know where their anger comes from. It has f**k all to do with apartheid. They are angry because of their own incompetence.”

Botes had since told Rapport this weekend she was not a racist and should have instead said she did not like “all black people”.

Her publishing company, NB Publishing, had distanced itself from her comments.

A number of people have tweeted their feelings, left messages on Facebook and commented on the Rapport’s website.

Zimo2 tweeted: “Why don’t you relocate you ugly minded? Are you beautiful by any chance?”

Zena wrote on the Rapport website: “I agree 100 percent with her. Too many people out there are false.”

Pierre de Vos, constitutional law expert at UCT, wrote on his blog Constitutionally Speaking that Botes’ comments were an indication of the feelings of other South Africans. “We all know now that this is not an aberration. These sentiments are rife and are supported either tacitly or more loudly by many white South Africans.”- Cape Times

* IOL is opening comments on this story as we feel it is an important debate. However, please note that we will be ruthless in our moderation: we want debate on the substance of the remarks made by Botes and on the free speech issues surrounding this. Any gratuitous racist comments or racist attacks on other posters will not be permitted. - IOL Editor