Midvaal mayor: Piet did it
Johannesburg - Midvaal Mayor Timothy Nast on Thursday demystified the overnight disappearance of a Hendrik Verwoerd bust from the DA-led Midvaal area.
It was removed by "a man called Piet" who had no other time to do it, he said.
In a telephonic interview with Sapa, which started with Nast warning he was "not going to mince any words", the mayor explained the Kultuurraad vir Klipriviervallei [Cultural Council for Klip River Valley] paid for the bust to be removed from outside the municipal offices in Meyerton.
He denied it happened "in the middle of the night", in response to a statement issued by the Freedom Front Plus.
When he was told FF Plus Midvaal chairperson Corrie Pyper had said he witnessed a truck removing the statue at 22:00, Nast replied: "Well, good for him... Ja, it was done in the evening."
A man called Piet
He insisted this was only because the contractor had not had other time to do so.
"It was removed when the contractor could remove it... Ask the contractor," suggested Nast.
When asked who the contractor was, Nast replied: "A man called Piet", adding that he did not know his full name.
Nast said the statue was now in the hands of the Kultuurraad vir Klipriviervallei because it originally belonged to them.
According to the DA the bust had been there for the past 30 years.
All queries were referred to a former chairperson of the Kultuurraad, Freddie Peters, a DA member.
But according to the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK), the Kultuurraad vir Klipriviervallei, previously part of the FAK, was no longer in existence.
Bust removed over vandalisation fears
FAK chairperson Danie Goosen told Sapa the organisation used to have different cultural councils in different areas, but these no longer existed.
"It doesn't exist anymore, but it seems to me they want [to] re-activate it. They have invited us for a meeting tonight [Thursday] so then we will have more information."
Goosen said Peters called him on Thursday morning to request a meeting with the FAK.
Peters told Sapa the bust was removed for fear it would be vandalised by members of the ANC, whose spokesman Jackson Mthembu on Wednesday criticised the DA in the hotly-contested Midvaal area, in the south of Gauteng, for "hoisting high" Verwoerd's bust.
The ANC, who has since welcomed its removal, said it showed "the DA shares apartheid sentiments and philosophies".
He said the bust was now in a storeroom of one of the former members of the Kultuurraad. Peters said the decision to remove the bust was an "independent decision by the Kultuurraad".
FF Plus questions timing
Nast said it was removed following "a formal resolution by the mayoral committee yesterday [Wednesday]".
The FF Plus accused the DA of being "skelm" (underhand, sneaky).
"This action by the DA was calculated and happened at night, two weeks before the local government elections, to win over black votes in Midvaal," said Gauteng FF Plus leader Jaco Mulder.
The FF Plus's Pyper said he received an anonymous phone call on Wednesday night informing him the DA was removing the statue.
"You are bloody 'skelm' when you do it like that," said Pyper.
"I was at home when I got this phone call saying they are removing the statue. At 22:00 at night! When I got there, the whole council was standing there, looking at me as if I am 'gemors' [rubbish].
"Ja, they weren't happy to see me," Pyper told Sapa.
"I'm not saying apartheid was right, but it is still part of our history. If you want to do something like this, you tell people: 'Luister, ons gaan julle oom wegvat. Kom neem 'n foto, kom stort 'n traan.' [Listen, we are going to remove your 'uncle'. Come take a picture, come shed a tear."