Rhodes statue removal not reverse racism, says student

2015-04-09 15:57
A statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town near the city centre of Cape Town, South Africa. (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

A statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town near the city centre of Cape Town, South Africa. (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

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Cape Town - Removing the Cecil John Rhodes statue from the University of Cape Town (UCT) is not reverse racism, a student said on Thursday.

"This is not reverse racism at all. We are dealing with historical justice here," said 36-year-old Wandile Kasibe, who is to start his PhD in Sociology at the university next month.

"After the statue has fallen, this is just the beginning. We are pushing for decolonisation and we need to see a curriculum that is transformed. It is a noble cause," he told News24 in front of the statue.

Kasibe, who has three Masters degrees, hit back at claims that students calling for the statue's removal were "brainless" and trying to run away from their academic work.

'We are serious students'

"We are serious students who are doing our work."

He said it was a nonsensical argument to say that students who were unhappy with Rhodes should give up their Mandela Rhodes scholarships.

"Whose money was that? When Rhodes came here, he accumulated that money at the expense of our people."

The UCT council recently ruled that the statue, the centre of much debate over the last few weeks, must be removed from the institution’s steps.

A team of riggers and a crane truck lifted the statue in a test-run on Thursday morning, ahead of its permanent removal at 17:00.

One of the riggers, Anton McEwan, told News24, they arrived at the campus at 07:00, attached the necessary ropes and lifted the statue about 30cm high an hour later.

"The statue is made of bronze and weighs about a ton-and-a-half," McEwan said.

He said it would take about five minutes to lift it on Thursday afternoon.

The riggers sat in front of the statue and guarded it.

A fence and green netting surrounded the statue, which overlooks sports fields and the city's suburbs.

A constant stream of students walked past and most stopped to take a photo on their phones, tablets or laptops.

Around midday, a drone also hovered over the statue for a few minutes, presumably taking photos or a video of the scene.

Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  cecil john rhodes  |  monuments debate

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