Statue’s future on the table

The Cecil Rhodes statue was temporarily removed after the #RhodesMustFall protests last year. The statue of Cecil John Rhodes currently is in safe storage.

Heritage Western Cape (HWC) has informed UCT that its application for the permanent removal of the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes will be tabled at a meeting of the Built Environmental and Landscape Committee (BELCom) on Monday October 31.

The bronze Rhodes statue, created by Marion Walgate, was removed for “safe keeping” and placed in storage following the Rhodes Must Fall protests in April last year, amid cheers from students who had clamoured for the monument’s removal.

UCT subsequently applied for the permanent removal of the statue as well as the demolition of the plinth in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act.

UCT deputy vice-chancellor Professor Sandra Klopper said a Heritage Statement and a Section 27(18) application for the removal of the Rhodes statue and the demolition of the plinth was undertaken by heritage consultant Ashley Lillie and submitted to HWC in November 2015.

A heritage statement explains the heritage significance of an asset.

The draft statement was circulated for comment during a public consultation process undertaken by Chand Environmental Consultants.

“Upon review of the statement, HWC noted that aspects of the submission had not been adequately addressed and highlighted these recommendations in a letter to the vice-chancellor, Dr Max Price, on December 2015,” said Professor Klopper.

In order to address this concern, Melanie Attwell and Associates, assisted by Karin Strom, were commissioned by the university to undertake a supplementary study to address the outstanding heritage requirements. Their work was submitted to HWC on Wednesday July 6.

“It was also decided that UCT’s application would deal with the permanent removal of the statue and the demolition of the plinth only, and that the matter of a replacement site would be considered in due course, subject to the relevant statutory and policy requirements,” Professor Klopper said.

According to Mr Lille’s report, the university had received four offers for the relocation of the statue – “one from the Crow Foundation in Texas for an initial period of 20 years, for safe keeping in a sculpture garden that is dedicated to the preservation of monuments (of fallen heroes), another from the owner of a series of properties adjacent to the Cheetah Foundation at Paardevlei in Somerset West, a third from Nooitgedacht Estate near Stellenbosch, and a fourth from the South African Institute for Heritage Science and Conservation located at Twee Riviere, Langkloof, midway between Port Elizabeth and George”.

During the public consultation process, a number of other locations including museums, the Rhodes Memorial and Groote Schuur Estate were also suggested. UCT was in agreement with suggestions that the possible placement of the statue at the Groote Schuur homestead should be investigated, according to Mr Lillie.