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Go-ahead for Durban elephant sculptures

Durban - Work will resume on three controversial Durban elephant sculptures that reminded the city fathers of the Inkatha Freedom Party's logo.

This is according to a statement released on Thursday by artist Andries Botha's lawyer, Toby Orford.

Five IFP members were released after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg found that charges of murder and attempted murder could not be proved.

“Andries Botha and the municipality have agreed that Botha will complete the sculpture of a small herd of elephants at Warwick Junction on the original site,” the statement read.

The sculptures are meant to symbolise the forgotten conversation between man and nature.

The African National Congress's former eThekwini leader John Mchunu had work on the installation halted in February 2010, because they apparently reminded him, and others in the party, of the Inkatha Freedom Party's logo.

The ANC-controlled municipality tried to persuade Botha to change his artwork from one of three elephants to one representing the Big Five: an elephant, a Cape buffalo, a leopard, a rhinoceros, and a lion.

Botha objected and took the municipality to court.

While both parties fought a protracted legal battle over the sculptures, made out of wire frames filled with stones, the work was vandalised.

On one occasion red paint was splashed over it. Closed-circuit television cameras that should have caught the vandals on film were either not working or obscured by trees, The Mercury newspaper reported in June last year.

One of the elephants was completely dismantled and the metal frame stolen.

The latest agreement between the City and Botha requires him to build a fourth elephant.

“The municipality has acknowledged that it was unacceptable to Botha that he be compelled to change from his original three elephants sculpture to a Big 5 Design; and it has agreed to pay Botha's legal costs incurred to date,” the statement read.

According to Botha the elephants were specially chosen by the eThekwini municipality as an apolitical African metaphor for tolerance, co-existence and due consideration for a vulnerable ecosystem.

Comment could not immediately be obtained from the municipality.

IFP spokesman Joshua Mazibuko said the ANC had to shoulder the financial burden of the out-of-court settlement reached by Botha and the city.

Mazibuko said the ANC, and not taxpayers, should pay because it decided to stop the project due to narrow political interests.

“Above that as the IFP we wish to once again draw the attention of the public to the ANC's abuse tendency... regardless of the consequences thereof to the citizens.” - Sapa

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