Tshwane statue sees light

2006-07-06 21:35

Pretoria - The covers have finally come off the controversial statue of the man said to have inspired the naming of the metropole of Tshwane.

The bronzed figure of Chief Tshwane, standing almost six metres from base to top, was unveiled on Thursday in a low-key ceremony outside Pretoria city hall, months after it was erected and put under wraps.

A proposal that the city of Pretoria also be named Tshwane is still being considered by Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan.

Mayoral committee member Absalom Ditshoke conducted the unveiling as members of the royal Tshwane household looked on.

Ditshoke stood in for Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramokgopa, whose name is engraved on the base of the statue as the one who unveiled it.

Ramokgopa was away on a trip to Germany for the Soccer World Cup final.

Wanted it to replace 'Oom Paul'

The nearly R1m price tag of the statue has caused controversy from the start. There were also differences of opinion on whether a Chief Tshwane ever existed.

Adding fuel to the fire, were requests to Ramokgopa in May for the statue to replace that of former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek president Paul Kruger on Church Square.

Several opposition parties and citizens groups expressed outrage.

The African National Congress in Pretoria quickly denied Chief Tshwane was to replace "Oom Paul", saying the chief would remain in front of the city hall.

The statue made further headlines when sculptor Angus Taylor warned that the bronze would turn green if kept under plastic and cloth for too long.

Engravings on bases

Chief Tshwane stands only a few metres away from statues of former ZAR president Marthinus Wessel Pretorius and his father, Andries, after whom Pretoria was named.

A note at the bottom of President Pretorius' statue claims 1855 as the date the Voortrekkers founded the city and named it.

An engraving at the base Chief Tshwane's statue says it was through his "existence our city origin and history sprung."