News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday April 22nd 2019

Jan Smuts treated like a slave

Second year UCT arts student Lee-Ann January puts a bag over Jan Smut's head as part of an art intervention. The student work had city improvement district officials scratching their heads on Monday. Photo: WCN

Cape Towns City Centre Improvement District officials were this week scratching their heads as to why a stature of Jan Smuts, situated next to Parliament was tied up with rope and covered in black plastic bags.The unusual sight of Smuts with his hands tied and face bagged greeted city workers on Monday morning.

At first they though the statue, which is situated in front of the Slave Lodge museum on the corner of Adderley and Wale Streets had been bagged by museum staff for cleaning.

But when that assumption proved wrong, they were left baffled.

It later came to light via Facebook that it was the work of a three University of Cape Town (UCT) Fine Arts students.

Second year students Lee-Ann January, Nobukho Nqaba and Siyabulela Tima said they spent the Friday afternoon covering the statue, as well as staging a slave sale under the original slave tree where slaves were sold on Spin street around the corner.

January said they were fulfilling a class brief on interpreting the city and intervening in public spaces.

She said as visual artists they chose slavery as a theme because “it means so much to us and we can relate to it”.

“We want to get rid of colonel sculptures within the City centre because it reminds us of white superiority.

“The area should be embraced. It’s a cemetery of souls. It should make people question who they are and where they going.”

She said there were “good responses” from people passing by while they were busy working on the Smuts sculpture last Friday.

“One lady said we should remove it completely.”

Central City Improved District chief operations officer Tasso Evangelinos said no action would be taken against the students as they had the right to freedom of expression.

“It was fantastic. It’s great to be creative, as long as public or private property is not vandalised, defaced or demolished.”

City of Cape Town officials, however, have a got a bee in their bonnet.

City Chief of Law Enforcement Rudolf Wiltshire said “this type of behaviour” would not be tolerated.

“This matter will be investigated and action will be taken against those responsible for this deed.” – Yugendree Naidoo, West Cape News

Tags: adderley, cape town, City of Cape Town, UCT, University of Cape Town

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