A trip to Simon’s Town is a treasured treat for many Capetonians. The suburb has a rich history and unique charm, and is famous for its penguins and naval base.

Everyone knows of its famous inhabitant Just Nuisance, who has received a popular statue in his honour. A lesser-known statue, the Standby Diver, stands proud on the jetty in Simon’s Town and drew much public attention when it was unveiled in 2014.

The ‘Standby Diver’ is a 2m-tall bronze statue created by former Navy diver Otto du Plessis. It features incredible detail, with the snorkel and fins being etched into life-size replicas.

The Standby Diver: An ode to South Africa's Navy
Credit: Nigel Riley
The Standby Diver: An ode to South Africa's Navy
Credit: Nigel Riley
The Standby Diver: An ode to South Africa's Navy
Credit: Nigel Riley

The statue was made to honour all South African Navy divers in the past, present and future who have dedicated their lives to protect and serve. A group of former South African Navy divers came together to raise enough money to have the sculpture erected.

It was unveiled on December 24, 2014. Before this, it was encased in a huge wooden box to raise public speculation and interest.

On the statue is a plaque that reads, “This statue stands as a symbol to all past, present and future South African Navy divers. We protect and serve confident in the knowledge that there will always be a fellow diver looking out for us. Ours is a ‘brotherhood’ that transcends race, gender and creed. ‘Semper in excreta’”. The Latin phrase has a rather crude translation: “always in the shxt”.

Not everyone was happy with this sculpture, however. According to Times Live, the South African Navy opposed the statue as it was created by former divers from the early 1990s. Navy spokesman Zamo Sithole said that its creation had not been officially authorised by senior management.

“When this request reached the SA navy HQ, the statue was already being built without the SA Navy’s strategic input and knowledge about it,” he told Times Live. “Secondly, the former navy divers responsible for the project had already communicated with certain navy members at tactical level without the knowledge of SA Navy top management.”

Picture: Instagram / osbaf

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