Cape Town - Seven men posing as council workers damaged a statue of British colonialist, Cecil John Rhodes, at Cape Town’s Company’s Garden, by cutting the back of the right leg using an angle grinder.
However, further damage was foiled by a park manager who forced them to flee.
On Wednesday, at 9.30am, a group of men dressed in orange bibs armed with ladders, angle grinders, a generator and red danger tape attempted to cut down the statue.
The city’s Mayoral Committee member for community services and special projects, Belinda Walker, confirmed the incident.
“The park manager for the Company’s Garden heard metal being cut and, when he investigated, came across a crowd gathered around the statue of Cecil John Rhodes.
“The area had been cordoned off with red and white tape.”
Walker said when the park manager approached the statue, one of the men tried to stop him.
The manager then unplugged the generator’s cable. Once it stopped, the fake council workers fled.
“The statue has been damaged. The cut extends about a quarter of the way through the ankle of the statue.”
She said authorities were analysing CCTV footage.
Police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut, said police were aware of the incident, but a formal complaint had not been lodged by the city council.
Interim chief executive at Heritage Western Cape, Errol Myburg, said those responsible had committed a criminal offence.
“The Company’s Garden is a heritage site, the actions of these individuals contravene section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act, and it is therefore a criminal act.”
The council and Heritage Western Cape said they had received no requests for the statue to be removed.
Last year, a group of UCT students started the #Rhodes MustFall movement, calling on the university’s council to remove the Rhodes statue at UCT.
Since then, the #Rhodes MustFall movement has grown globally, with Oxford University students calling for the removal of a Rhodes statue at Oriel College.