AfriForum: Action needed on Paul Kruger statue

2015-04-06 18:05
The Paul Kruger statue in Church Square, Pretoria, was defaced with green paint. (Theana Breugem, Netwerk24)

The Paul Kruger statue in Church Square, Pretoria, was defaced with green paint. (Theana Breugem, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The defacing of Paul Kruger's statue in Church Square, Pretoria, calls for authorities to the strongest possible action against the perpetrators, lobby group AfriForum said on Monday.

"The situation is deteriorating by the day, people are becoming more swept up by the emotion of events, and communities are becoming dangerously polarised as a result,” deputy chief executive Alana Bailey said in a statement.

Bailey believed the current debate on statues and monuments could lead to attention seekers with political agendas wanting a place in the spotlight.

"The message has to be sent to the anarchists that their behaviour is unacceptable and will be punished in accordance with existing legislation, before irreversible damage is done to the South African cultural heritage, or the polarisation amongst communities leads to violence,” she said.

AfriForum thanked the Heritage Foundation and Tshwane metro police for the steps taken since the statue of Kruger was defaced.

Bailey said AfriForum believed conservation organisations, the SA Heritage Resources Agency, political leaders and civil society had to ensure mutual recognition and respect for the contributions made by respective communities to the country's history.

EFF claims responsibility

Earlier on Monday, Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party's members in Tshwane were responsible for defacing the statue of Kruger.

"Yes, the EFF in Tshwane has taken responsibility for it," said Ndlozi.

"The EFF in Tshwane has long launched a campaign where it has demonstrated, calling on the city to remove the statue with immediate effect and substitute it with a different statue or monument."

Kruger's bronze statue had blobs of lime green paint splashed over it on Sunday.

Moafrika Mabongwana, EFF deputy chairperson in Tshwane, confirmed that the party's Tshwane members were responsible. He told reporters earlier on Monday that the EFF was not responsible, but later changed tack.

"We went back and spoke to the members and found out that they were actually involved," said Mabongwana.

"I was not aware at the time that they were involved when I spoke to the other media. We congratulate them for the action they have taken."

He said the EFF would stand by their members even if they faced legal action.

Increased security

Spokesperson for Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, Blessing Manale, said security guards had been posted around the Kruger statue.

"We want to pursue criminal prosecution. We are considering cordoning the statue off and we will have it cleaned up tomorrow," Manale said.

"The mayor is on holiday. He returns Tuesday and will head to the scene to see for himself."

In Cape Town this weekend, a small statue resembling President Jacob Zuma was erected on Lion's Head, but later cut in half.

City Press reported that the statue, which depicts a short, fat, naked man, had a large pink sex toy in its hand, evoked the controversy around artist Brett Murray’s painting, The Spear.

The debate was sparked by protests that began at the University of Cape Town on March 9 about the presence of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes on campus. After weeks of protests, the senate voted in favour of the removal of the statue.

Last month, EFF leader Julius Malema reportedly told party members in Langa, Cape Town, that South Africans should tear down apartheid-era symbols, including the statue of former prime minister Louis Botha outside Parliament.

Last week, the EFF in the Eastern Cape torched the War Memorial statue in Uitenhage’s Market Square.

“Unfortunately we could not topple the statue, as the police came and stopped us,” the region's deputy chairperson Bo Madwara said.

He said the Uitenhage memorial was just the start.

“The EFF has a programme in Nelson Mandela Bay that will seek to destroy all colonial statues that have been identified,” he said.

Read more on:    afriforum  |  eff  |  pretoria  |  cape town  |  uitenhage  |  monuments debate  |  cecil john rhodes
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