Cape Town - A foul stench drifted up Jammie Steps at UCT after a dozen protesting students drenched the statue of Cecil John Rhodes in human excrement.
Student Chumani Maxwele led the way as he flung the human waste on the statue, calling for the monument to be taken down.
“As black students we are disgusted by the fact that this statue still stands here today as it is a symbol of white supremacy. How we can be living in a time of transformation when this statue still stands and our hall is named after (Leander Starr) Jameson, who was a brutal lieutenant under Rhodes,” said Maxwele.
Maxwele and his followers called for transformation of the university’s infrastructure, including the renaming of campus roads and buildings.
“This poo that we are throwing on the statue represents the shame of black people. By throwing it on the statue we are throwing our shame to whites’ affluence.
“As black students here we have to change our ways just to fit in, and we have to keep quiet for almost three years before we can speak in the classrooms. It is time for all of that to change.”
It is not the first time that Maxwele’s name has been in the news. The 30-year-old politics student made headlines in 2010 after he was detained by President Jacob Zuma’s bodyguards for flashing his middle finger in the direction of the president’s motorcade.
The statue of Rhodes is on the upper campus overlooking the university’s rugby fields on Madiba Circle, formerly known as Rugby Road.
The university’s upper and middle campuses are on land bequeathed to the nation by Rhodes as the site for a national university.
But Maxwele said: “How can this statue still stand on a road called Madiba Circle? By doing that we are making history beautiful when it is not. Also every year we have the Steve Biko memorial speech and it is held in the Jameson Hall. These are all fraudulent relationships.”
University spokeswoman Patricia Lucas said the institution was unaware of the protest.
“The university has procedures in place to allow students to hold peaceful and safe protests on issues that concern them. The protesters did not follow such procedures, and by dumping excrement in a public place they violated the law. They did not inform UCT of their intention to demonstrate, nor did they issue a statement to the university about the reasons for this protest.
“UCT is investigating this action and we will take legal steps if it is established that there was unlawful behaviour,” said Lucas.
During the protest a UCT security officer attempted to physically stop Daily Voice photographer Ayanda Ndamane from taking pictures, although students took pictures and filmed the incident with their cellphones.
Lucas said: “The vice-chancellor’s office has demanded a comprehensive and immediate report on this alleged incident.”