Right wing could be behind defacing of statues - Tshwane mayor

2015-10-07 20:07
Green paint covers part of the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Green paint covers part of the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane had not ruled out the possibility that "right wing political organisations" were behind the defacing of statues deemed relevant to respective cultural groups.

“We have actually not ruled out a possible deliberate action by members of these organisations themselves as new means of inciting anger and fear in the Voortrekker and Afrikaner communities who are beginning to embrace the vision of a united and diverse South Africa,” said Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa in a statement.  

“We believe that the right wing political organisations must accept partial responsibility for the reaction of our communities on these issues. We believe that it is the actions and utterances of these organisations that fuels the impatience of our people and stretches their tolerance and reconciliatory mood which we have championed since 1994."

The statue of Paul Kruger in Church Square was defaced on Monday. The city was to reinstall a fence to protect it from vandals.

"The recent act of vandalism occurred at a time when one block of the fence was opened to allow people to take pictures and pose at close range with the statue," said Ramokgopa.

"The fence will be reinstalled to cordon it off for ease of access."

Not fair to blame City

Ramokgopa described the vandalism as an act of criminality aimed at political point scoring. He said the city was shocked by the call from numerous Afrikaner cultural organisations to hold the City criminally accountable for failing to adequately protect statues.

"The Church Square has CCTV coverage and we will seek the contents... and hand them... to the SAPS for their evidence. We believe that we have taken preventative measures, which have not only been about physical security," he said.

Green paint was thrown on several statues in Church Square. It was not yet clear who was behind the defacing of the statues. Earlier this year there were a spate of incidents related to statues and monuments around the country.

The Pretoria Paul Kruger statue was one of them. Others defaced were the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Johannesburg, Louis Botha's statue in front of parliament, the statue of a soldier in Uitenhage, Queen Victoria’s statue in Port Elizabeth, Paul Kruger in Krugersdorp, King George V’s statue at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and The Burger Monument in Burgersdorp.

Last month, the nose from a statue of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town was cut off with an angle grinder.

Ramokgopa added that it was not fair to blame the city as they had engaged various organisations and stakeholders.

Read more on:    city of tshwane  |  kgosientso ramokgopa  |  pretoria  |  monuments debate

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