Durban - It has been more than seven years since Zulu King Shaka kaSenzangakhona’s statue was removed from the King Shaka International Airport, and the Premier’s office is mum on when the new statue will be erected.
The R3.2 million artwork by renowned sculptor Andries Botha was unveiled in 2010, but was taken down later that year after it was rejected by the Zulu royal household.
Certain quarters of the household felt the main statue (Shaka) did not depict the true stature of the king.
The original statue had shown Shaka with some Nguni cattle.
The statues of the cattle remained, prompting Botha’s appeal to the Premier’s Office to remove them as they were harming his intellectual property rights, but to no avail.
The Daily News had reported at the time that the Premier’s Office had appointed a task team, including historians, to look into the history of King Shaka.
In 2011, artist Peter Hall was commissioned at an additional R3.2m to make a new statue, starting in 2012.
Since then, there has been no feedback from the provincial government on when the new statue would be finished and officially unveiled.
Botha said on Thursday that he had tried “his best” to highlight to the government the illegality of “defacing” his artwork.
“I had hoped that they would do something about it and I was wrong. I’ve even indicated that the remaining pieces of art could be placed somewhere else where I can restore the work. I thought they would at least hide them (cattle) somewhere. Out of respect and sensitivity for the matter, I maintained a civil approach, but that’s not working,” Botha said.
He questioned the queries by certain sections of the Zulu nation, including the royal household.
“There were workshops, consultations and research done to understand the meaning of King Shaka. After all of the above processes, an agreement was reached and a contract signed giving the go-ahead for the work.
“I would not have gone there and erected the statue without going through all these processes, and they disfigured it,” Botha said.
“I want to believe that the cause of the fallout could be that they (the Premier’s Office) did not consult the royal household before the statue was given the go-ahead. I’ve tried everything to have this ratified, but that did not work.”
Herman Blignaut, attorney and partner at Spoor & Fisher, a firm which deals with intellectual property (IP) laws and practices, said artistic works such as statues were protected by copyright which entitled the owner to prevent any unauthorised party from making, for example, a reproduction or adaptation of the protected work (or a substantial part thereof).
“Section 20 of the Copyright Act makes provision for so-called ‘moral rights’. These are not copyrights, but rather in the nature of copyright and cling to the author of a work personally, even if ownership of copyright has been transferred to another person.
“The right to integrity, as one of the types of moral rights, entitles the author of a work (ie. in this case, the artist) to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work where such action is or would be prejudicial to the honour or reputation of the author,” Blignaut said.
He said the rationale behind Botha’s insistence to remove the cattle could be that the work, in full view of the public, could be prejudicial to his honour or reputation.
He said moral rights could be enforced in the high court in a similar way as an owner of copyright would address an infringement thereof. There is no precedent for a matter such as this in South Africa, he said.
In September 2014, Ndabe Sibiya, a spokesperson in the Premier’s office, had said a formal announcement about the future of the cattle sculptures would be made once Hall’s project had been completed.
At that time, Dr Vusi Shongwe, general manager in the heritage division of the Premier’s Office, had said the new 5m-tall statue was in the foundry where the bronze coating was applied as “final touches”.
Hall confirmed this week that the statue had been completed, but would not comment further.
“I’m not the Premier’s spokesperson. I have finished my part. Everything else rests with the Premier’s office,” he said.
Thami Ngidi, the premier’s spokesperson, said they were operating within their timelines, but did not elaborate.
“We will in due course make an announcement regarding its (the statue’s) unveiling having taken due regard of all relevant protocols.
“We want to make sure that previous mistakes are not repeated,” he said referring to not consulting the royal household when the previous statue was commissioned.
He said an announcement would also be made about the future of the cattle sculptures.
Prince Thulani Zulu, royal household’s spokesperson, said they were still waiting for the Premier’s Office to consult them on the status of the second statue.
“We have not heard from them regarding the finalisation and installation of the statue. Since this was the Premier’s initiative, we will wait,” he said.