‘History lesson needed’

2015-04-08 00:00

PRETORIA — The FF Plus yesterday laid charges against the Economic Freedom Fighters after the party admitted to defacing Paul Kruger’s statue in Pretoria, and called for education on what such monuments represented.

“It’s in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act and they are charges of damaging and defacing a national heritage structure, in terms of section 51 of the act,” the party’s advocate Anton Alberts said.

The case was opened at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria. The EFF took responsibility for the defacing of the statue, in Church Square, with green paint on Monday.

Alberts called for people to be educated about these monuments. “They represent South Africa’s history, good and bad. There must be more education of what these statues represent.

“Paul Kruger was a believer in helping black tribal people and he gave them a lot of land, especially to the Royal Bafo­keng,” he said.

National Heritage Council spokesperson Danny Goulkan said the organisation would hold a media briefing on the matter in Johannesburg today to present a “formidable response” to the debate.

The controversy began last month when University of Cape Town students called for the statue of Cecil John Rhodes to be removed from the campus. The university’s senate voted on March 30 that it be removed.

The Congress of the People said there was a need to be creative with monuments of the country’s past.

Leader Mosiuoa Lekota supported an argument by retired Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs that monuments be used to “demonstrate the way white domination had been glorified in the past”.

“One function of statues is to kindle an interest in history. Another function of statues is to represent figures who freed us from oppression. Statues of such heroes help us to celebrate their legacy. By juxtaposing statues of yesteryear and today, we highlight the contrast so that ugly history never repeats itself,” Lekota said.

He gave the example Sachs used, of how the Old Fort in Johannesburg was transformed into the Constitutional Court, becoming one of the country’s “admired sites of conscience”.

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