Historians are worried about the destruction of memorials in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. Priceless statues, plaques and memorials are being destroyed, allegedly destined for scrap metal yards.
Kimberley’s Sol Plaatje municipality is battling to deal with this crime as many of these historic sites are defaced and destroyed.
Kimberley has a rich history. From the diamond rush that established the city to the various political figures that helped shaped the country’s future. Those who made contributions are remembered in the form of statues and memorials littered around the city. But now, they are being vandalised.
“I don’t think this particular destruction has anything to do with politics or historical consciousness and so on. This is purely trying to get scrap metal probably was chopped up and then taken off to scrap metal merchant,” says Historian Prof David Morris.
“Today scrap metal thieves have been “stripping irreplaceable plagues from these memorabilia. And the precinct has become an area where alcohol is being openly consumed and used as a public toilet. These statues commemorate individuals and they also remind us of significant events to honour the contributions of a particular person to society. As a municipality, we urge the public to guard these memorabilia. Some of them are landmarks for us,” says Sol Plaatje Municipality Spokesperson Thoko Riet.
But there are still memorials in the City not everyone is happy with. A Campaign has been running for years to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. But historians believe memorials should depict the good and bad of history.
Morris argues that “These are all aspects of history and by obliterating them when one can be losing half the story and in fact, one could be losing the illustration of why they needed to be changed.”
The Sol Plaatje municipality says they will continue to take measures to protect memorials around the city including putting fences around sites.