Those involved in the attempts to tear down a statue during the Wits protests on Friday will have been left with egg on their faces: Not only did they fail to dislodge the monument, but their choice for a target has been roundly lambasted.
Why was the statue targeted?
Earlier today, students were seen putting ropes around a statue on de Korte Street. They also set fire to the base of the monument, but ultimately, failed to remove it from its plinth. Police officers intervened, and dispersed the crowds.
However, many are wondering why the statue itself has been subjected to violence and vandalism. The Miners’ Monument celebrates the contribution made by the gold mining industry to national wealth. It’s branded as a ‘celebration of the workers’, and after being unveiled in 1964, has served as tribute to the grafters who built South Africa’s economic pillar.
Wits protests: Students slammed for attacking Mining Monument
Built during the colonial era? Yes. But a symbol of colonialist values? Not really. It’s a point Phumzile van Damme was keen to make on Friday, as she berated those who tried to take down the historical landmark.
“The statue commemorating and recognizing how mineworkers built Johannesburg. The gold miners worked in appalling conditions and living in hostels. Bringing down a statue that honours them achieves what? Ya ne, dis waar.”
Impact on *their* mind? The people pulling the statue down? Wait until you read the history of the lives of mineworkers and the impact it had on *their* minds. https://t.co/P5VmKJRwir
— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) March 12, 2021
DA Councillor and social media personality Renaldo Gouws also weighed in with a dose of criticism:
“This is why #FeesMustFall isn’t taken seriously. Trying to bring down the Gold Miner Statue outside Johannesburg City Council Chambers. What the hell does this statue have to do with your demands for fees to fall?”