Historians are concerned about the destruction of memorials in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. Priceless statues, plaques and memorials, supposedly destined for scrap yards, are being destroyed.
The municipality of Kimberley Sol Plaadje is fighting this crime as many of these historical sites are damaged and destroyed.
Kimberley has a rich history. From the diamond rush that founded the city to the various political figures that helped shape the country’s future. Those who have contributed are honored in the form of statues and memorials placed around the city. But now they are vandalized.
“I don’t think that this destruction has anything to do with politics, historical consciousness and so on. It’s a pure attempt to get scrap metal, probably cut up and then taken away by a scrap dealer,” says historian Professor David Morris.
“Today, scrap metal thieves are ‘ripping irreplaceable scourges out of these memorabilia.’ And the site has turned into a territory where they drink alcohol openly and use it as a public toilet. These statues honor individuals and also remind us of significant events to honor a particular person’s contribution to society. As a municipality, we encourage the public to protect these memorabilia. Some of them are benchmarks for us,” says Sol Plaatje municipality spokesperson Toka Riet.
But there are still memorials in the city that not everyone is happy with. There has been a campaign for years to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. But historians believe that memorials should reflect the good and bad moments of history.
Morris states that “these are all aspects of the story, and if you erase them, you can lose half the story and, in fact, you can lose the illustration of why they had to be changed.”
The municipality of Sol Plaatje says it will continue to take measures to protect memorials around the city, including fencing off the sites.