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Rhodes prepped and ready to fall

Published Apr 9, 2015

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Cape Town - The statue of Cecil John Rhodes has been harnessed to a crane and is set to be removed from UCT’s grounds at 5pm on Thursday.

Early on Thursday morning construction workers dismantled the base of the statue, which was attached to the platform on which it sits with mortar and concrete.

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The decision to remove the statue from the university grounds was ratified by UCT’s council on Wednesday night.

This comes after a month of protests at the university following the establishment of the Rhodes Must Fall movement - an independent collective of students, workers and staff who have come together “to end institutionalised racism and patriarchy at UCT”.

On Wednesday night the council's vote on the Rhodes statue was interrupted when students stormed the meeting.

Police were called in after pandemonium broke out when students demanded they be present when council members voted.

The meeting was adjourned but council members were blocked as they tried to leave.

Council chairman Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane told students council members were on the verge of voting when the meeting was disrupted.

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Students later left the room and the meeting continued.

Speaking after the unanimous vote to remove the statue, Archbishop Ndungane said: “UCT’s council has voted in favour of removing the Cecil John Rhodes statue from UCT’s Upper Campus, at a special sitting held on April 8.

“This follows a month long series of protests by UCT students which foregrounded the debate around statues, symbols and the impact these have on the climate of inclusiveness on the UCT campus.

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“Although the Vice-Chancellor had announced a programme to review symbols and names in October last year, the depth and breadth of feelings on the issue unleashed by the student protest challenged us to accelerate the consideration of the Rhodes statue, in particular.”

Student activist Chumani Maxwele, who initiated what has now become a nationwide campaign to “decolonise” universities when he flung human excrement on the statue on March 9, said Wednesday's vote was not an easy victory for the students.

“We shall claim no easy victories, we shall tell no lies. Rhodes is falling,” he said.

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Cape Times

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