Minister agrees that more should have been done as another statue is vandalised


Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, has acknowledged that more statues, commemorating the new South Africa, should have been erected following the advent of democracy in 1994.

His announcement comes after a spate of attacks on mostly colonial era statues across the country, with the majority being blamed on the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

In an interview with Beeld, Mthethwa said that apart from the various statues depicting late former President Nelson Mandela, and the recently unveiled bust of Walter and Albertina Sisulu outside Parliament, memorials dedicated to black anti-Apartheid heroes were in the minority, and that the significance of colonial era monuments was bound to cause controversy.

“It is the pains of nation building and is not about the statues per se. The statues represent what people see as racialism. People’s anger is an expression of their frustration with the slow pace of transformation. People start looking around and say things are the way they are because this specific person is being glorified,” Mthethwa said.

“It was bound to come. That is why the government has put mechanisms in place to deal with that, so when it comes, our democracy should be able to process that. The promulgation of the National Heritage Act of 1999 was no accident. It was something born out of a vision that such things would happen.”

He also stated that people should not take the law into their own hands, and that government’s view towards heritage sites, including those of Cecil John Rhodes and Paul Kruger, was based on a “policy of reconciliation, nation building and social cohesion”.

“Most importantly, heritage sites and national monuments have cultural significance and value because of their importance to a community in revealing a pattern of South Africa’s history. They demonstrate a particular aspect or time of South Africa’s natural or cultural places or objects.

“Our democratic transition was a negotiated transition. We are known for our excellent ability to engage each other. To sit around a table, thrash out problems and move forward. We say we should be able to do that again,” he said.

In the latest incident, the statue of former Prime Minister Louis Botha outside Parliament was found vandalised on Thursday morning, with the base smeered in red paint and Botha’s horse painted in a shade of dark blue. No one has yet accepted responsibility for the act although EFF involvement is suspected after the party’s National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, tweeted an image of the defaced statue with the words, “Botha must go, written below.

Earlier this week, party members claimed responsibility for the damaging of the Horse Memorial in Port Elizabeth, before later retracting accountability.


CAPTION: The defaced statue of former Prime Minister, Louis Botha, outside Parliament IMAGE from News24 twitter feed