Removal of Rhodes Statue ‘Only The Beginning’

APRIL 10, 2015

The 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement, which was behind the month-long protests that culminated in the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the University of Cape Town (UCT) grounds, says it will continue pushing for change at the university – while it emerged on Friday morning that the Queen Victoria statue at the Port Elizabeth Library had been drenched in green paint.

UCT’s Student Representative Council (SRC) Ramabina Mahapa said: “The SRC will be submitting a comprehensive document that actually outlines the challenges and possible solutions to them.”

Mahapa said that they were appreciative of UCT’s response to their calls to remove the statue.

“We thought that this might be take about six months to actually come to a conclusion [sic] but we’re very happy that we’ve been able to speed up the process from our side,” he said.

The institution's council this week voted in favour of having the sculpture taken down, and it was moved yesterday for the first time in 80 years. The council will now have to apply to the National Heritage Council which will decide what to do with the statue. In the interim, the structure is being kept at a secret location.

Crowds cheered as Rhodes’ statue was hoisted off the university’s upper campus.

Chumani Maxwele, who is credited with sparking weeks of protests after he dumped human waste over the sculpture, also said the statue's removal is only the beginning.

“The next move is to ask the vice-chancellor of the university by the end of next year, to have 50 percent of black South African professors and change the curriculum of the university. That for me is the most important thing and is the hardest challenge we’re facing.”

While the removal of the statue was hailed as a sign of transformation at UCT, AfriForum Youth demanded that government protect their heritage by ensuring statues and monuments are safe from vandals.

The organisation has given the Department of Arts and Culture just under three weeks to respond to a memorandum it handed to Parliament on Thursday.

Several sculptures in the Eastern Cape, Pretoria and Cape Town have been defaced in the wake of protests that started at UCT last month.

In the Nelson Mandela Bay, the Uitenhage’s Anglo Boer War memorial and Port Elizabeth’s Horse Memorial were vandalised.

On Friday, it also emerged that the Queen Victoria statue at the Port Elizabeth Library had been drenched in green paint. There were calls last week that the statue be relocated.