A number of community members, including Megan Hope of the Eastern Cape Horse Care Unit, gathered today (08/04/15) to place flowers on the fence surrounding the damaged Horse Memorial in Port Elizabeth.
A bucket filled with water had even been donated and has been placed under the horse’s mouth.
Port Elizabeth’s well-known Horse Memorial was damaged on Monday by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as part of the party’s countrywide campaign to damage or destroy colonial and apartheid-era statues and memorials.
Security has been stepped up at historical statues and monuments in Nelson Mandela Bay following the incident.
The Horse Memorial, dedicated to the thousands of horses that died during the Second Anglo-Boer War between 1899 and 1902, was erected in 1905.
The bronze statue, located where Cape Road becomes Russell Road, depicts a soldier kneeling before his horse, offering it a bucket of water.
Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said the soldier dislodged from the granite plinth had been moved to an undisclosed location.
“We have removed this part of the statue for safe keeping.
“It is a heritage site and it is our responsibility to protect it and all other heritage sites . . . warts and all,” he said.
Williams said patrols in precincts with monuments would be doubled.
“We will be monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis.”
He said the cost of repairing the statue was minimal.
“We will be monitoring the situation as it unfolds and will put back the soldier when it is safe or remove the monument altogether.” The costs of transporting the fallen soldier and storing it in a secret location are being absorbed into the R275 000 municipal maintenance budget.
Williams said the storage fees were R150 a day.
Emotions ran high at the damaged memorial yesterday when municipal workers arrived to truck the broken portion away.
Several of the about 30 people watching took photographs as the soldier was loaded onto the vehicle.
Many shook their heads in disbelief at the wanton destruction.
“It’s terrible. It’s not right,” one onlooker, who did not want to be named, said.
Hilton Johnson, of Linton Grange, came down especially to see the damage for himself.
“I think it’s a misunderstanding by the people who took offence at what the monument stood for,” he said.
Odwa Sezani said he felt uneasy as he watched the statue being removed. “It doesn’t make me feel good.” A New Brighton resident, who also did not want to be named, said she was horrified by the vandalism to the memorial.
“It is for our young ones to see what the Eastern Cape has been through before. I feel very sad. It’s not nice.”
After the news broke on The Herald’s Facebook page about the damage to the memorial, Brad Bodsworth, who has only been in the Bay for a year, tried to gather support to put the severed statue back on the plinth.
“The intention was to basically undo the damage that had been done,” he said.
But the municipality took the damaged portion away before anything could be done.
Artist and sculptor Anton Momberg, who restored the memorial in 1993, said it would cost about R60 000 to restore the sculpture to its original state.
“But it is not a straight-forward job . . . if there are dents to the sculpture, they will need to be knocked out and the entire sculpture, including the horse, will have to be cleaned and repatinated,” he said.