The National Heritage Council has called for the fast tracking of the proposals to deal with the issue of statues of former leaders in the apartheid era in order to help protect them from the vandalism that seems to continue unabated by various members of the community. The call was made on Saturday as more and more statues were being vandalised all across the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council, Sonwabile Mancotywa said that the council would conduct an audit on all apartheid and colonial statues across the country. He, however revealed that the dilemma facing the council was what to do with the statues. “The question is, what do we do about them? Do we place them in less prominent positions or create a special garden of statues?” he quipped. He further revealed that while they were still reviewing the policies around these statues, they had instructed law enforcement agents across the country to step up their focus on the statues. In Pretoria, for instance, after the dousing of the Paul Kruger statue with green paint on Monday, the City of Tshwane had erected barbed and razor wire around the statue to keep away those that intended to deface it again.
Mancotshwa advised that at the end of this month, two draft policies on these statues would be released and public comment would then be invited in order to include public opinion on the matter. Mancotywa added that a proper place for the statues needed to be considered, a place that did not hide South Africa’s history, nor celebrate negative aspects of that history. He argued that the calls that had been made by the EFF that the statues be placed in museums were short sighted. He said that this was because it was a generally held perception that only discarded, unwanted items were placed in museums and this opinion was erroneous.
Mancotshwa also posited, “How do we reconstruct our public spaces so that there’s a true reflection of our common ethnicity? White people are not going to celebrate a public space that doesn’t respect their heritage,” adding that the same would go for other race groups. He said that after the draft policies had been prepared and public opinion had been elicited, the policies would be handed over to the relevant ministries to be enacted into law.