Van­dals steal her­itage statue

CityPress - - News - JO­HAN EY­BERS news@city­press.co.za

There is a price of R5 000 on the head of Do­man, the first real free­dom fighter from our history, who died in 1663.

The long-awaited open­ing of the grand new Her­itage Mon­u­ment in Pre­to­ria on Tues­day had to be can­celled at the last minute af­ter a life-size bronze statue of Do­man was stolen.

The statue by Sarah Richards, a well-known sculp­tor from KwaZulu Natal, is worth about R380 000.

The depart­ment of arts and cul­ture has been left red-faced by the shock loss in the Groen­kloof Na­ture Re­serve in the Foun­tains Val­ley.

De­part­men­tal spokesper­son Baile Maunye claimed that the open­ing was can­celled be­cause Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa could not at­tend be­cause of “other com­mit­ments”.

But Tsh­wane metro coun­cil act­ing po­lice chief Leon Less­ing said theft was the real rea­son.

Do­man is one of 55 stat­ues – in­clud­ing King Shaka, Sol Plaatje, Se­fako Mak­gatho, Steve Biko, Al­bert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, and Wal­ter and Al­bertina Sisulu – that were moved from the Oliewen­huis Mu­seum in Bloem­fontein to the Foun­tains Val­ley two weeks ago.

Less­ing said the thieves en­tered the se­cu­rity gates at the Foun­tains in a bakkie last Satur­day night.

The rob­bers broke Do­man’s statue from its pedestal, car­ried it up the hill to the far end of the site and loaded it into their bakkie. “The statue was very heavy and the rob­bers’ foot­steps could still be seen clearly on the ground the next day,” said Less­ing.

With the statue on the back of the bakkie, the rob­bers drove right past the se­cu­rity staff with­out be­ing no­ticed.

On Tues­day, all the stat­ues were cov­ered in black ma­te­rial and the area was cor­doned off with a green plas­tic cover.

Less­ing said the stat­ues were cov­ered be­cause they feared the rob­bers were se­lec­tive about which he­roes they stole.

“We do not know if an art col­lec­tor is be­hind the theft, or whether it was merely stolen to be sold as scrap me­tal,” he said.

A charge of theft has been re­ported to the po­lice.

On Sun­day, a pam­phlet was placed on the no­tice board at the Foun­tains of­fer­ing a re­ward of R5 000 to any­one who could help to find the statue. It was also dis­trib­uted at taxi ranks in Pre­to­ria and Johannesbu­rg.

The safety of the stat­ues is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Na­tional Her­itage Pro­ject Com­pany. Dali Tambo, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the com­pany, failed to re­spond to re­peated en­quiries.

Tambo ear­lier de­scribed the pro­ject as “the largest na­tional her­itage mon­u­ment” in South Africa.

The plan is to put up stat­ues of 500 strug­gle and his­tor­i­cal fig­ures at the mon­u­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment of arts and cul­ture, the mon­u­ment is fi­nanced by “gen­er­ous” sub­si­dies from the Lot­ter­ies Board and the de­part­ments of arts and cul­ture, and tourism.

PHOTO: JO­HAN EY­BERS

The statue of Do­man, the first free­dom fighter from SA’s history, who died in 1663

TROUPER Lit­tle Kamva Nt­sasa lost his aunt and two of his cousins in the bus ac­ci­dent. The Grade 3 pupil called for help af­ter the ac­ci­dent de­spite be­ing in­jured

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