Rhodes statue issues

2015-05-05 06:00

University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Max Price condemns commentary written on the “Have Your Say” notice boards placed next to the Rhodes statue.

Price says some of the comments written on the board amounts to “racist hate speech”.

“This is totally unacceptable and I condemn this in the strongest possible terms. We recognise how this aggravates the pain and hurt experienced by the targets of such insults and it certainly bedevils genuine debate,” he says.

Price says if they can identify the writers, they will take disciplinary action and because the boards can’t be monitored at all times, and to avoid the offence caused by such anonymous posts under UCT’s auspices, the boards were removed.

People’s Post previously reported (“Transformation pains”, Tuesday 24 March) that about 100 UCT students joined in a protest march to the university’s Bremner Building last week to demand that the Cecil John Rhodes statue be removed.

The Bremner Building houses the university’s council offices. Price had previously stated that the Rhodes statue is “indeed a symbol of UCT’s colonial past”. “Many have noted that as it currently stands, the statue of Rhodes is unmediated by any critical commentary or historical contextualising. There is nothing to suggest to any passerby how the university situates itself in relation to Rhodes’ actions and their impact. At the very least, we need to engage with that,” he says.

Last week Price announced a process of engagement on the matter of the Rhodes statue that would allow for debate and discussion involving all constituents at UCT, and that would culminate in a proposal by the Executive to Council on Wednesday 15 April.

“I can report that we have been in discussions with multiple stakeholders on the matter of the statue. I have met with the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) of UCT, namely the deans, the executive directors, the deputy vice-chancellors and the directors of Institutional Planning and the Transformation Office,” Price says.

He says he is now in a position to confirm that the proposal he earlier made in his personal capacity – that the statue of Rhodes be removed from its current location – has been supported by all these constituencies. Price says the SLG made this proposal to the Convocation meeting on Tuesday 7 April and culminating in the special sitting of Council.

“We have gone to great lengths to allow a free exchange of ideas on the issue of the statue. I urge to remain respectful of the views of those with whom we differ,” he adds

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