Students participating in the Wits protests set their sights on a statue near the Johannesburg university campus on Friday. A group of young people gathered to demolish the monument to minors at the top of rue de Korte, with protesters telling the press that the act of destruction was a symbolic gesture aimed at “decolonizing education”.
Which statue was targeted by the Wits protests?
An attempt was also made to set the statue on fire, as ropes were placed around the necks of the men immortalized by the monument. The statue was originally erected to pay tribute to the gold mining community, which worked in appalling conditions during the days of colonial rule. The students, however, were unable to tear down the structure.
Watch: Wits student protests fail to remove statue
– Sinus (@Sine_Madolo) March 12, 2021
– Pule Letshwiti-Jones (@pule_jones) March 12, 2021
#witsprotests | The statue’s feet continue to burn as JMPD tries to calm the situation down. They are quick to remove the rope wrapped around the neck of the man they identify as a white colonial settler. pic.twitter.com/Sih70rgzYm
– Jacaranda News (@JacaNews) March 12, 2021
The arguments for and against …
The removal of statues has become a very hot topic around the world. Protests in the US and UK have recently seen problematic numbers fall from their pedestals. The argument against these acts of civil disobedience is that they “essentially try to whitewash history”, while those involved believe that some monuments “glorify injustice”.
However, the unsuccessful targeting of the monument to minors is likely to raise questions. The statue is a tribute to the miners and their perseverance. However – whichever side of the fence you are on – one thing that is not for debate is that these students involved in the Wits protests are determined to achieve meaningful change.
A leading student union sent a list of demands to Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, giving him a deadline of 5 p.m. to accept the proposals. Failure to do so, they warn, will result in a “closure of the national university” on Monday.
Students attempt to demolish ‘colonial statue’ during Wits protests
SourceStudents attempt to demolish ‘colonial statue’ during Wits protests