Mthethwa: No violent removal of Rhodes statue will be supported

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, says the department will not support any violent removal of the Rhodes statue at UCT. (David Harrison, MG)

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, says the department will not support any violent removal of the Rhodes statue at UCT. (David Harrison, MG)

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday said in a statement: “We neither support nor encourage the violent removal of any statue because we do not encourage people taking the law into their own hands.

“As government, we encourage citizen participation in efforts to find an amicable resolution to this matter through dialogue and negotiation.” Mthethwa said his department had not received any formal application for the statue’s removal. On Monday, University of Cape Town students staged a sit-in at the campus.

Rhodes, 1853-1902, was a British colonialist, businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. He founded Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) which was named after him in 1895. Rhodes University is also named after him. Provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship are funded by his estate.

Last week, a student reportedly emptied a toilet on the Rhodes statue at the campus. The statue was also covered with black rubbish bags. The ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ group said it planned to implement political education at the campus. Vice Chancellor of UCT, Max Price, said at the time the statue should not be destroyed, just moved. The students rejected his suggestion.

Notices had been put up on the university’s noticeboards asking for the student’s input. Alumni had been e-mailed and also asked to share their views. Mthethwa said on Wednesday any entity or community that wanted to move or remove the statue would need to undertake a 30-day public consultation process, with notifications that included presentation to the authorities and inviting comments from affected and interested parties.

Statue struggle rekindles bid to exhume Rhodes

In Zimbabwe, a Zanu-PF official is pushing for the exhumation and repatriation to the United Kingdom of the remains of Cecil John Rhodes, saying the campaign is in solidarity with South African university students who are calling for the removal of the Rhodes statue from UCT. – Sapa, staff reporter.

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