Plans to cover Marthinus Steyn statue at UFS

The University of the Freestate (Andre Damons, Netwerk24)
The University of the Freestate (Andre Damons, Netwerk24)

The University of the Free State (UFS) is applying for a permit to have a statue of Marthinus Steyn covered, after students raised concerns with the student representative council (SRC) about its position on campus.

The statue is currently situated in front of the main building at the Bloemfontein campus.

UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader said the SRC raised the issue during a quarterly student engagement with the rector and vice-chancellor, Professor Francis Petersen, on March 8.

Petersen has since appointed a task team to focus on the request.

"The task team functions as a sub-committee of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP) work stream on names, symbols, and statues, and consists of subject experts, members of the SRC, heritage professionals, and individuals who understand the complex issue of institutional culture," Loader said.

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Loader added that the task team has made significant progress, while aligning itself to the relevant legislation.

She said, as part of the review process, the task team decided to approach the provincial heritage resource authority to obtain a permit to have the statue wrapped.

"The task team is of the opinion that wrapping the statue symbolises the seriousness and urgency of the review process."

Relevant stakeholders were requested to make oral and written submission to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with the wrapping of the statue.

Loader said both written and oral submissions would be incorporated in the application for a permit.

After a decision had been made by the permit committee, there will be a 14-day-period in which the public can appeal.

"The task team is committed to engage on this process with the appropriate urgency, cognisant of what is legislatively required in terms of the heritage authorities."

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