Test run for Rhodes statue removal a success

2015-04-09 14:19
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GALLERY: Preparations begin for removal of Rhodes statue

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes is to be taken down after weeks of protest over the statue. See all the pictures here.

Cape Town- A rigging team successfully lifted the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town in a test run on Thursday morning ahead of its permanent removal later in the day.

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 into the air an hour later.

It took three riggers and a man operating a crane truck to lift it.

"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 for its official removal at 17:00.

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

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

Little achieved - student

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.

A 19-year-old first year law student, who did not want to be named, felt that that the students who had fought for the statue's removal had legitimate concerns, but had achieved little.

"The way they have gone about it, attacking inanimate objects, does not really promote difference," he told News24.

"The majority of people who feel very passionately about this did not even know Rhodes existed before this cause started. They have just been taught to hate."

The student, who is South African, was asked by his family in England to take a video of the statue and document his views and opinions on it.

Masakane Mbutuma, 51, travelled with a small group of residents in Kraaifontein to witness the statue's removal.

Wearing a yellow shirt with a Ses'Khona People's Rights Movement logo, he said there would only be peace when all the "apartheid" statues had been removed.

"When I see them, I can't forgive, I can't forget."

Situation paradoxical - student

He said a large group of people from the movement were expected to arrive at the campus later in the day.

A 33-year-old man, who identified himself only as a "Xhosa, black male involved in university initiatives", said people were not interrogating the issue at hand and chose to connect on a more peripheral level.

He found the situation paradoxical.

"Removing it is paradoxical to me because it is a statue of a white person in a university built by white people and that is presently accommodating people from all different cultures," he told News24.

"Why would you come to a university founded by white people and begin to protest against anything that is considered symbolic of white people? There is something illogical about that."

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

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