File picture: Oliver Tambo of the African National Congress (ANC). Picture: Sunday Tribune Archives

Mthatha - Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle on Thursday condemned the burning of ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo's statue at the heritage site in Nkantolo village in Bizana.

“We bemoan this insensitive act and find it hard to believe that there are people who could commit such a crime, with such impunity, lawlessness and contempt during the month that we celebrate the untarnished legacy of president Oliver Reginald Tambo,” Masualle said.

Spokeswoman Nomfanelo Kota said the statue, which formed part of a heritage site, was burnt on Wednesday.

“We do not know the extent of the damage but it is not about the material aspect. This was cultural heritage and the historical element,” she said.

Masualle welcomed the investigation by police and was confident that those responsible for the “dastardly act” would be brought to book.

He said people should keep in mind if they had issues that there were other avenues.

“There are processes to be followed when communities have grievances and no matter the gravity of concerns, such lawless acts that spit and besmirch our history and our leaders must be condemned with the contempt they deserve.”

Tambo, born in Bizana, was among the founding members of the African National Congress Youth League in 1944 and became its first national secretary. He later became president of the ANC.

Tambo died of a stroke in April 1993.