The sculptors of the nine metre bronze-plated statue, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, secretly added the rabbit to the work, according to the Beeld newspaper.
The duo told the newspaper the rabbit was a “small trademark” of their work after the department did not allow them to engrave their signatures on the statue trousers.
They said it also represented the tight deadline they were working under as rabbit in Afrikaans “haas” also meant haste.
“The time factor was big and at times we had to work hard,” Prinsloo said.
Prinsloo said the “small symbol” was hidden in the ear and it did not take anything away from the statue.
“You need a long lens or binoculars to see it,” he said.
“During the moulding process a lot of people had seen the statue up close and nobody noticed it.”
Department spokesman Mack Lewele told the newspaper he was not aware of the addition to the statue and it would investigate the matter.
“We can’t comment until we have seen it with our own eyes,” Lewele said.
Lewele did not say whether the department would consider removing the rabbit.