Statement on Madiba’s statue at the Union Buildings

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21 Jan 2014

The late President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's 9m bronze statue was unveiled by President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings on 16 December 2013 as part of the Reconciliation Day annual celebrations and the commemoration of the centenary of the Union Buildings. The statue is dedicated to the life of Mandela and his contribution to freedom and reconciliation in South Africa.
The Department of Arts and Culture appointed Koketso Growth, a heritage development and implementation company, to manage the development of the statue through various stages and ensure successful completion and installation. Koketso Growth worked with Mr Andre Prinsloo and Mr Ruhan Janse van Vuuren on account of their expertise in casting bronze sculptures.
At no stage was the Department made aware of the sculptors’ intention to place the object of a rabbit in the ear of the statue. Nor did the Department receive any request from the artists to add such a signature to the work.
Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile, has indicated that: ‘’It is unfortunate that the sculptors, Mr Prinsloo and Mr van Vuuren chose to place an object in the statue without the knowledge of those who commissioned them. They have since apologised for this and for any offence that may have been given to those who felt their actions disrespected the memory and legacy of Tata Mandela.  We accept their apology and that their intentions were honourable. However, considering the stature Madiba enjoyed here and abroad, a more appropriate artist signature would have been preferred”.
There are deliberations at present on how best to retain the integrity of the sculpture without causing any damage or disfigurement.
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