Sculptor vs city: opening shots

2011-12-02 00:00

WHAT is expected to be a long and arduous legal matter got off to a false start when sculptor Andries Botha took eThekwini Municipality to task over his ill-treated elephants in the high court in Durban yesterday.

The matter will stay off the roll until both parties have submitted supporting documents and made an application to appear again.

Botha initiated the legal action against eThekwini Municipality to stop the council from destroying the elephant sculptures, which were nearing completion.

The municipality was asked yesterday to present documents to prove the authorisation for the destruction of the two sculptors.

Botha’s lawyer, Toby Orford, said the matter is likely to start in March.

“The municipality failed to provide vital documents yesterday.

“We have filed an affidavit to make it compulsory for them to do so,” he said.

Orford said there has been no indication when exactly the court proceedings will get under way.

At the heart of the matter are three life-sized metal and stone elephant sculptures that were to be part of an international herd that the world- renowned sculptor had created under the banner of the Human Elephant Foundation.

Botha created 17 elephants around the world to highlight elephant conservation and to act as symbols of co-existence, humanity and ecological interdependence.

The go-ahead was given to Botha to build three elephants and he started on the R1,5 million-project in November last year, but council officials forced him and his staff to stop work in February after an ANC councillor allegedly complained that the artwork resembled the Inkatha Freedom Party logo.

Botha said that he had no choice but to take the city on in court, since it was not willing to discuss the terms of contract.

“It’s a sad day for artists when the African National Congress, who fought so hard for our democracy, can prescribe to us what we can and cannot do.

“When I started the sculptures there were no political implications and now they have tarnished my work. Under copyright they had no right to misconstrue the message of my work, and so I will proceed with the matter legally,” he said.

Botha said it is also worrying that the city is willing to squander ratepayers’ money on legal fees when the matter could have been settled amicably.

Meanwhile vagrants have moved into the area and the sculptures are falling into disrepair.

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