Hewers CEO Loses It

Hewers crisis manager accuses me of “cyber bullying bordering on defamation” for accurately reporting what it says on his website

Yesterday I blogged about Hewers, a self-proclaimed “niche market crisis communication and issues management advisors protecting personal and brand reputation.”

Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo (source)

Hewers states on the front page of its website that it “was inspired by a speech by apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd.”

Via History.com:

As prime minister from 1958, [Verwoerd] instituted an intricate system of laws separating whites, Africans (blacks), Coloureds, and Asians, and resettled blacks in backwater reservations. These policies provoked anti-apartheid demonstrations by blacks, which were brutally crushed by government forces at Sharpeville and elsewhere.

Via Twitter today, Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo accused me of “embedded journalism” and “Pottinger-style cyber bullying bordering on defamation.”

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Unappealing

Crisis management reps for complainant in “Banting for Babies trial” say they were inspired by controversial “apartheid architect” Hendrik Verwoerd

I recently blogged about the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), whose former president reported University of Capetown professor Tim Noakes to medical authorities for a single tweet in February 2014 (click here to read more).

ADSA hired crisis management company Hewers to field questions about its uncertain role as complainant in the case subsequently brought against Noakes by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

After a lengthy legal battle lasting just under two years, last month Noakes was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct. The HPCSA is currently appealing the verdict.

Professor Noakes during Banting for Babies trial” (source)

Trying to get answers from Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo about ADSA’s role proved futile, but last week I got an interesting tip regarding the etymology of the name “Hewers.”

Via Irvine, CA Ophthalmologist Dr. James H. Johnson:

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The Hewers website states that “the name Hewers was inspired by a speech by apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd,” and even quotes “the late politician” as saying that “black South Africans ought to be trained to become ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water.’”

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Verwoerd is a hugely divisive figure in South Africa.

As prime minister during the late fifties and sixties, Verwoerd “introduced numerous laws to establish the raced-based discriminatory system known as apartheid – earning him the title, architect of apartheid.” (Robertson, 2010)

Hendrik Verwoerd (source)

In March 1960, government forces in the South African township of Sharpeville opened fire on a crowd of peaceful black protesters, killing 69 people. Speaking to the British press one year later, Verwoerd described apartheid as “a policy of good neighbourliness.”

In the mid-thirties, Verwoerd (himself an immigrant to South Africa) protested the arrival of Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi Germany.

I’ve asked Neeran Naidoo if he believes that openly taking inspiration from such a divisive figure helps with his company’s stated goal of “protecting personal and brand reputation.”

I’ve also asked ADSA’s current president Maryke Gallagher for her take.