On Saturday, July 19, the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at Rhodes Memorial by the University of Cape Town (UCT) was vandalised by criminals. The statue was partially beheaded, and was repaired by Friends of Rhodes Memorial (FORM) on Wednesday, September 23.
The head, weighing over 80kg, was found 50 meters away from the torso by a Friend of Rhodes Memorial in low scrub-three days after it had been cut off, and handed over to SANParks for assessment.
“During this time The Friends made an appeal to SANParks for its restoration and offered a solution to place it back. At first, The Friends were told that the head would not be returned, and it might well end up in a proposed ANC inspired theme park. Through persistence, The Friends pushed for a petition as well as put pressure on the Western Cape Heritage and Cape Town City to get the head back. During this time it was learnt that a local ward councillor and police knew the names of the vandals and would come forward in due course,” the organisation said.
In addition to restoring the head, all the sculptures at Rhodes Memorial have been 3D scanned and full-size replicas have been made as a replacement to counter any damage until the vandals are caught. Additional international trends of anti-vandalism measures including the filling of industrial cement and iron in the statue – as well as the installation of a GPS tracker and other electronic alarm systems – have been installed.
“We are very pleased that the Friends of Rhodes Memorial Membership has grown tremendously, the Monument is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world as well as locally each year – from all walks of life, races and religions, they are all brought together by a sense of peace, harmony and nation building. Rhodes Memorial is one of the finest monuments in the world and it is here in Cape Town. Perhaps we could have 2 plaques on either side of the bust, the good and bad side of Rhodes,” said Gabriel Brown, a representative of Friends of Rhodes Memorial.