The Ditsobotla Local Municipality in Lichtenburg in the North West says it’ll step up security at the local cemetery, following the theft of a bust of Boer War General, Koos De La Rey, over the weekend.
Heritage Potchefstroom has raised serious concern about the theft. It is believed that the copper bust was stolen with the aim of melting it.
De La Rey was a general during the second Anglo-Boer War and was shot and killed by police in September 1914, when they mistook him for a member of a criminal gang.
Heritage Potchefstoom Chairperson, Johan Wolfvaart, says incidents such as these lead to the erosion of the country’s history.
“It illustrates the narratives of South African history and of course the most important thing about it that we must learn from it. So the loss of every heritage site or building is a complete lost to the people of South Africa basically. So that is why it must be preserved,” explains Wolfvaart.
A replica to be sponsored
The Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK) has indicated that they will sponsor a replica of the bust made from material that has no economic value.
The CEO of FAK Dr Danie Langner says they will also assist to repair the grave.
“We will repair the graves with the replica of General De La Rey later this year with the help of Jack Miller,” adds Langner.
The Ditsobotla Local Municipality in Lichtenburg says it will ensure that the graves are fenced in order to curb theft and vandalism.
Spokesperson Pius Batsile says they have never had security at the grave site as they’ve never had cases of vandalism before.
“There has been never a security at that grave side because we have not experienced any vandalism before. That is why it has been a shortfall; actually an oversight from our side. But moving forward, we are intending we are going to put proper security at that side,” says Batsile.
North West police says no criminal case has been registered yet. – Reporting by Syllvester Serame