AfriForum has appealed the decision to remove the statue of former president of the Orange Free State, Martinus Theunis Steyn, from the University of the Free State (UFS). This comes after a council approved the relocation of the statue of MT Steyn to the War Museum in Bloemfontein earlier this year.
After appealing to the Provincial Heritage Resources Agency Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, expressed that the location of the statue is a big part of its significance.
“We feel that where a statue stands is also part of the context. If you remove it, it becomes more of an artwork than a statue. So a lot of the meaning of the statue is lost when it is removed. We were part of the public participation process that was launched by the university and we set out why we are opposed to the removal of any statue,” said Bailey.
The MT Steyn statue is located at the centre of the university’s main campus. Standing tall it overlooks the lawn where students mingle, rest and make their way to various classes.
According to Sonwabile Dwaba, the president of the UFS Student Representative Council, the appeal only serves to delay transformation on campus.
“The problem is that this continues to cause discomfort and unrest in the institution. It really delays progress that is being made,” explained Dwaba. He said that a letter would be sent to the council after the appeal by AfriForum.
UFS announced after a lengthy process of public participation that the statue would be moved off campus.
Bloemfontein Courant attempted to get a response from the UFS, but had received none by the time of publication. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele