The Federation for Afrikaans Culture (FAK) unveiled a new bust of Boer War General, Koos De la Rey after the original bronze bust was stolen from his grave earlier this year at Lichtenburg in the North West.
De la Rey was shot and killed on 15 September 1914 while he was en route to Potchefstroom military camp from Johannesburg. His driver did not stop at a roadblock set up for the Foster gang and police opened fire on the car and De la Rey was killed.
He was a boer war general, who was highly lauded for advocating for boer independence and was commemorated with an unveiling of a brand new bust in his honour.
CEO of the Federation for Afrikaans Culture Dr Danie Langner says, “Before the war, he wanted freedom. During the war, he fought with respect. Even after the war, he strived for freedom and he did that with integrity, with energy until his last breath.”
Family representative, Louis Pretorius, says, “General De la Rey is not only an ancestor of mine. He is also an example to all people. We are very privileged as Afrikaaners to have him as an ancestor.”
With De la Rey’s original bronze bust having been stolen earlier this year, many have denounced the vandalism of culturally significant historical monuments and called for better engagement around them.
Jacques Muller, sculptor of the new bust, says, “I was inspired to do this bust because of the historical significance of the man himself, as well as the artwork that was vandalised and stolen. Because I think it is essential for us to preserve our cultural history. It doesn’t matter what it represents.”
While the local hospital was named after De la Rey and another monument in his honour stands in the city centre, 27-year-old Nkululeko Wittes questions his relevance in this day and age.
“General De la Rey was a person who fought for the Afrikaner. So, why is it relevant to unveil his statue today.”