Port Elizabeth – A war memorial statue in Uitenhage’s Market Square was set alight on Thursday afternoon, Eastern Cape police said.
Warrant Officer Bazil Seekooi said three members of the community had placed a tyre over the statue and set it alight around 12:30.
“The men fled the scene when the police arrived and no arrests have yet been made,” he said.
Seekooi said community members had claimed the men responsible were linked to the Economic Freedom Fighters, but said this had not been confirmed.
The statue, depicting a South African soldier, is a memorial linked to the Anglo Boer War, specifically honouring volunteers from Uitenhage who fought in the war between 1899 and 1902.
By: Derrick Spies, News24
Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters burned and charred a momument to British soldiers who died in the Boer Wars (1899-1902), describing it as a “colonial statue”, the party and police said.
The protesters “put (a burning) tyre over the statue” of a soldier in the centre of the southern town of Uitenhage, police warrant officer Basil Seekoei told AFP.
“We haven’t arrested anyone yet. We’re still busy with the investigation first,” he added.
Responsibility for the incident on Thursday was swiftly claimed by the EFF, a political party formed in 2013 by Julius Malema, formerly the firebrand youth leader of the ruling African National Congress, which expelled him after a conviction for hate speech.
Luxolo Jacobs, a self-proclaimed youth in the EFF, posted two photos on Twitter of the statue in flames and covered in plastic by party militants, with a message to Malema.
Police said that the memorial was “not badly damaged”, since the stonework was merely blackened.
But the incident follows calls by Malema to bring down statues of South Africa’s former white rulers, British and Afrikaaner alike.
“We said that economic liberation must be accompanied by the falling of these colonial statues and we would want to see them replaced by liberation hero statues,” EFF Regional Deputy Chairperson Bo Madwara said on state-run SABC television.
South Africans are currently debating the status of colonial-era monuments more widely, after student activists at the University of Cape Town succeeded in having a statue of Cecil Rhodes boarded up.
Rhodes (1853-1902), the British colonist, mining magnate and politician for whom Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) was named, is seen in hostile circles as the embodiment of white oppression in southern African history.
The ANC, in power for 20 years following the end of white minority rule, has issued threats to colonial monuments but thus far left most of them standing in the name of national reconciliation. The party says it is open to discussion, within a legal framework.
The farmers fought this war to become free from the British Colonial Rule
*** The Anglo Boer War was fought by Britain and her Empire against the Boers. The Boers (white Afrikaans farmer) were comprised of the combined forces of the South African Republic and the Republic of the Orange Free State. The Boer Republics declared war on 11th October 1899 and the conflict ended on 31st May 1902, a duration of 2 years and 8 months. http://www.angloboerwar.com/boer-war –
Images from the Concentration Camps
The camps were formed by the British army to house the residents of the two Boer republics of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. They were established towards the end of 1900, after Britain had invaded the Boer republics. This database was designed to investigate mortality and morbidity in the camps
during the war. Although it will include everyone listed in the registers during the war, it usually excludes returning prisoners-of-war and men who came back from commando at the end of the war, as well as the considerable movement of people which took place after 31 May 1902, when families were repatriated to their homes.