Following the vandalizing of the Paul Kruger statue on Church Square, Pretoria, AfriForum urgently appealed to the concerned authorities to take action against those responsible.
“The situation is deteriorating by the day, people are becoming more swept up by the emotion of events and communities are becoming dangerously polarized as a result,” said Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum.
Bailey believes the media prominence of the current debate on statues and monuments may result in attention seekers with political agendas now trying to get into the spotlight with an act of vandalism.
“The message has to be sent to the anarchists that their behaviour is unacceptable and will be punished in accordance with existing legislation, before irreversible damage is done to the South African cultural heritage, or the polarization amongst communities leads to violence.”
Henk Maree, National Chairperson of AfriForum Youth, said that members of the organization had been ready early this morning to clean the Kruger statue. AfriForum Youth then asked the Heritage Foundation for technical cleaning advice, and were reassured that the foundation will restore the statue properly and that charges have been laid with the police against the vandals.
“AfriForum Youth’s members feel strongly about preserving our heritage and last night’s events are unacceptable to us,” he said.
Bailey and Maree expressed their appreciation for the swift action taken by the Heritage Foundation. They also thanked the Tshwane Metro Police for the steps taken since the incident to protect the Kruger statue, as well as other heritage sites in the capital city.
AfriForum launched a petition a week ago, asking for a moratorium to be placed on the removal and relocation of all statues and monuments in public areas. The organization also proposes that a national heritage summit be held where all concerned parties can discuss the future of the country’s cultural heritage. Members of the public who wish to support the campaign, can sign the petition on AfriForum’s website or Facebook page, or SMS their name to 42315. An SMS costs R1.00.
In addition, AfriForum Youth has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness about the significance of our cultural heritage, including statues.
AfriForum believes conservation organizations, the responsible official organization SAHRA, political leaders and civil society all have to take a firm stand against the current ideologically-driven debate to ensure that mutual recognition and respect for communities’ respective contributions to and views on history are promoted.