Cape Town – Politicians and activists reacted with outrage on Monday after learning the City had removed Nelson Mandela’s statue from City Hall for an international movie shoot.
Monday, January 11, marked 29 years since Mandela was released from prison on February 11, 1990, and made his first public speech from the balcony of City Hall.
Former Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said: “The statue plays a significant part in our history.
“On that day people from all walks of life came together to listen to Mandela speak after years in prison.
“It is wrong to remove the statue, whoever is involved should have thought about this.”
Leader of the Good party and former mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille said whoever gave permission for the statue’s removal “doesn’t care”.
“The statue shouldn’t be moved especially on this day. On this day we made history. It is the day where thousands of people sang and danced in joy to see Mandela for the first time.
“We must honour our history and past and that is what the statue of Mandela stands for at City Hall.”
De Lille said there should have been “public participation to decide on temporary removing the statue for whatever other activities”.
“Tata is the father of the nation and we all have to honour this day.”
ANC chief whip in the City Xolani Sotashe said: “As ANC in the council we are very much disturbed. To remove the statue without us knowing says a lot. We want to know who authorised that the statue be temporarily relocated and brought back without the people knowing. Imagine tourists who come in here to view Mandela’s statue and find him not there. This is disrespecting the people of the Western Cape and the ANC.
“We have seen companies shooting films even next to Louis Botha’s statue, but they never removed or covered it, why are they doing it with Mandela’s statue?”
Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman Luzuko Koti said the foundation wasn’t aware of the temporary removal of the statue from City Hall.
According to Mayco Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management James Vos, a protocol was established for the necessary removal of the statue from the balcony in the event of maintenance, safekeeping and temporary relocation due to civic events.
“The relocation of the statue once approved is carried out by the company who did the installation in terms of protocol. In this specific instance the approval was granted to temporarily relocate the statue for safekeeping during a film shoot, which extensively utilised the Darling Street façade of the hall.”