Portuguese community to fix monuments

2015-05-21 10:49
The statue of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in the Durban CBD was vandalised earlier this year. It has yet to be repaired.

The statue of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in the Durban CBD was vandalised earlier this year. It has yet to be repaired. (Jonathan Erasmus)

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SOUTH African Portuguese residents are prepared to pay for the repair of two Portuguese monuments in a state of disrepair in eThekwini.

Both the Vasco da Gama Clock on Margaret Mncadi Road and a statue of renowned poet Fernando Pessoa need urgent repairs.

While the clock has been damaged by time, rust and no maintenance, the statue was vandalised with red paint by unknown suspects in March.

The damage, which includes damage to the poet’s hat, was sparked by the #RhodesmustFall campaign at the ­University of Cape Town earlier this year that saw a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes removed from a prime ­location.

John de Jesus, president of two Portuguese associations, namely the Community of Friends of KZN and the Portuguese Forum of KZN, said they will be meeting with Durban Mayor James Nxumalo on Tuesday to discuss how best to restore these monuments.

“It is an embarrassment. It is not nice at all when Portuguese visitors, who want to see these sites, see them in the current state they are in. We believe the city has not handled the matter correctly. We are willing to fund their repair,” said de Jesus.

Durban’ Portuguese Honorary Consul Elias de Sousa said both the Vasco da Gama clock and the statue belong to the city and were both gifts to Durban.

“It is up to the city to take care of these monuments as it is their property. There is not much we can do,” said De Sousa.

De Sousa said it was unfortunate as both monuments were visited by Portuguese tourists.

eThekwini spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said statues which have been either “defaced or vandalised in any form” are still under investigation by the police.

“The municipality’s Heritage ­Department has already started cleaning the statues which were defaced by paint. However, there has been a slight delay mainly because SAPS had to carry out their investigative duties,” said Mthethwa

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