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Head of Cecil Rhodes chopped away from Cape Town monument

The head of Cecil Rhodes has been chopped away from a bust of the 19th century colonialist at a monument on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, park rangers declared yesterday.

Cecil Rhodes, who made his fortune in South African diamond mining, has become a lightning rod for anti-colonial anger since students forced the University of Cape Town in 2015 to remove his statue from its campus.

Now, the bust housed at the top of a flight of steps at the Rhodes Memorial shows Rhodes with his arms folded. His right hand now cups what would have been his cheek - only with most of his face and head missing.

A damaged bust of Cecil John Rhodes, a controversial figure in the history of South Africa, is seen after the statue had been vandalised and had the head removed in Cape Town. Image credit Reuters

Last month students at Britain’s Oxford University called for a Rhodes statue to be removed as well, triggered in part by protesters in the port city of Bristol tearing down a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and throwing it into the harbour.

Lauren Clayton, a spokeswoman for South African National Parks in the Western Cape, announced rangers patrolling Table Mountain came across the disfigured bust during regular patrols earlier on Monday.

The incident possibly occurred on Sunday night or Monday morning, she added. She also said that no one had claimed responsibility for what happened.

The statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, UK. Image credit Matt Dunham/AP

The brutal murder of George Floyd has inspired thousands of protesters who have marched across the United States and Europe calling for the removal of monuments seen as glorifying the imperialist nature of countries such as Britain.

Rhodes Memorial, completed in 1912, consists of massive granite steps, flanked by bronze lions, and a rider astride a bronze horse at the beginning of the steps which leads to the top where the bust is situated, with an inscription beneath.

Clayton explained that “it has been vandalised before, multiple times ... At this stage, we are still unclear about the reasoning behind the vandalism.”


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