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Cape Town memorial stolen from under cops’ noses

A Cape Town memorial to two anti-apartheid struggle heroes has been stolen, apparently for its scrap value, even though it was only a stone’s throw away from a police station.

The memorial was to students Coline Williams and Robbie Waterwitch, who died in 1989 when a bomb they were handling exploded near the Athlone Magistrate’s Court.

Consisting of life-size bronze statues of the pair on a bronze base, it was erected in 2005 as a mayoral project by the city’s then African National Congresss administration.

Shirley Gunn, director of the Human Rights Media Centre, which has been involved in the creation of struggle memorials in the city, said on Thursday she understood that over the weekend, vagrants had seen men driving a white Mazda bakkie attach ropes to the memorial. They toppled it, but fled when the ropes snapped. On Monday night the men apparently returned and loaded it onto the bakkie.

A security guard told Gunn that although he telephoned the Athlone police station, which is only about 100m from the memorial, police arrived well after the thieves had left.

Gunn said that as soon as she heard of the theft, she contacted mayor Helen Zille, who has since been in touch with relatives of the two activists.

An official from Zille’s office confirmed that he had laid a complaint of theft at the Athlone police station on Thursday morning.

Gunn said if the statues were now at a scrapyard, someone in the community had to know about it. She called on people to come forward with information.

”They [the statues] need to be put back where they belong,” she said. – Sapa

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