Statues in public spaces should help heal divisions – Mthethwa

2016-05-10 20:08
(Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

(Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

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Cape Town – The country was not going to accept having proponents of apartheid in public spaces, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said on Tuesday.

The minister, presenting his budget vote in Parliament, was referring to the heritage landscape in the country, including statues.

“We will ensure that people occupying public spaces are people who can be accepted by the majority of the people in the country and at the same time being sensitive to some in the majority,” he said.

He said they would take an example from Germany in dealing with reconciliation and nation building. “We can’t have [Adolf] Hitler occupying public spaces,” he said.

His department had to make sure art in public spaces helped heal the divisions of the past, the minister said.

Building a statue of first PAC president, Robert Sobukwe, was being considered as it was “the right thing to do”.

Mthethwa also called for those who had admitted to being racists to be isolated and held accountable by all South Africans.

Open wounds

ANC MP, Sibongile Tsoleli, slammed High Court Judge Mabel Jansen, who has been accused of making racist comments about black people and rape on Facebook.

Journalist Gillian Schutte posted excerpts of written exchanges with Jansen on Saturday and Sunday, in which Jansen said, "In their culture a woman is there to pleasure them. I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12. I am dead serious."

An irate Tsoleli referred the judge to gender violence and colonialism.

“She must not dare open the wounds of women who were repeatedly raped in colonial society. She must not dare forget the rapes of our domestic workers in their backyards. She must not dare,” she said.

EFF MP, Phillip Mhlongo, condemned the arts department for not removing all apartheid era statues.

A shame

“The Department of Arts and Culture sees no reason to remove these statues which remind our people of criminals invaded our land at gunpoint, raping our mothers and sisters, condemning us to inferior education,” he said.

He said more than 20 years after the first democratic elections, nothing in South Africa “defined us". "That’s a shame,” he said.

DA MP, Allen Grootboom, said Parliamentarians were feeding and entrenching racism with what they said or did.

"It would be wise that your programme to deracialise our country and build social cohesion start in this house," he told the minister.

He said arts and culture was about restoring the soul of the nation and rebuilding and bringing all cultures, religions and languages together.

Read more on:    nathi mthethwa  |  cape town  |  racism  |  parliament 2016  |  monuments debate

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