Cape Town 150919 - A statue of Cecil John Rhodes gets defaced at Rhodes Memorial in Rondebosch. Picture by ASHRAF HENDRICKS, Reporter JAN CRONJE

Cape Town - Police are still searching for whoever cut the nose off a bust of Cecil John Rhodes at Rhodes Memorial sometime between late Thursday and early Friday morning.

The damage to the large bronze bust of the former prime minister of the Cape Colony was discovered on Friday morning.

The culprits managed to completely cut off his nose, probably with an angle grinder, exposing a gash of bright untarnished bronze in the centre of his face.

Police spokeswoman Noloyiso Rwexana said a complaint of malicious damage to property and vandalism was lodged on Friday.

“(The) case is being investigated. No one has been arrested at this stage,” she said.

The vandals also painted anti-Rhodes graffiti on the bust’s pedestal and the granite walls of the memorial.

Despite attempts by SANparks officials to clean them off, the 30cm red letters were still faintly visible yesterday.

The message to the left of the bust read: “Your dreams of empire will die.”

To the right the vandals had written: “Racist, thief, murderer…” The last word is unclear.

Graffiti was also painted on the base of the pedestal, over a stanza from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It was indecipherable except for the word “nose”

It also appears that the vandals attempted to cut off the whole head of the bust, but had to settle for just the nose.

A thin 10cm long cut on the back of the bust’s head was visible yesterday, stopping about a third of the way in.

The Tokolos Stencil Collective, a group of anonymous stencil and graffiti artists, tweeted on Friday that they had “received an anonymous e-mail from someone called “The Nose”, who had “claimed to have done something at Rhodes”.

The group later clarified that it was in no way involved, and didn't know the identity of the sender.

Weekend Argus