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From monarchs to Gandhi, South African statues vandalised

Published:Wednesday | April 15, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A statue splashed with green paint is cleaned after being vandalised in Pretoria’s Church Square, South Africa.


Excrement thrown at the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes began a wave of vandalising protests in South Africa.

Memorials to South Africa's colonial past were defaced by mainly young black protesters, as statues of British monarchs - Queen Victoria and King George V - were splashed with paint, in the cities of Port Elizabeth and Durban, respectively.

Founding fathers of Afrikaner nationalism were also targeted. In Pretoria, the memorial of 19th-century Afrikaner leader Paul Kruger was twice daubed with bright green paint, while the statue of Marthinus Pretorius, who founded the capital city, was splashed with reddish brown paint, according to local media reports.

Louis Botha

The statue of Louis Botha, the president of the South African Union in the early 1900s, was smeared with red and blue paint outside parliament in Cape Town on the same day that the Rhodes sculpture was removed from its perch overlooking the University of Cape Town, after weeks of student protest.

In the Free State province, a statue of Boer General Jan Fick was splashed with red paint in the town named after him in 1883, Ficksburg. Vandals poured paint over Scottish-South African missionary Andrew Murray's statue in the Western Cape.

War memorials were also defaced. A bronze rider marking the Anglo-Boer War from 1899 to 1902 was toppled from his horse.

In the latest demonstration, vandals smeared paint on the figure of a young Mohandas Gandhi. Standing in the square in downtown Johannesburg named for Mahatma Gandhi, the memorial marks the Indian anti-colonial leader's time in South Africa, where he formulated the principle of passive resistance. The protester, who smudged white paint on Gandhi's cloak, accused him of being racist during his time in the country.