The University of the Free State has confirmed that the statue of the last Free State president, MT Steyn, will be relocated to the War Museum in Bloemfontein.
The university’s rector and vice-chancellor, Francis Petersen, said the institution’s council, as well as the Steyn family, have agreed to move the statue off-campus.
Petersen added that the university had submitted a proposal for the relocating process and were still awaiting an outcome.
This comes after the statue has, in recent years, drawn controversy, with students vandalising it during the height of protests, calling for its removal.
The university’s student representative council and other organisations have for years alleged that the statue does not represent the university’s values and demanded that it be removed.
Many students have also said the statue is a pre-apartheid artifact, which is a painful reminder of apartheid’s sins and has no place in a post-democratic South Africa.
Petersen explained that the decision to relocate the statue should not be considered as an attack on a specific race, culture or ideology.
He emphasised that this does not mean all of the memorabilia, art symbols and statues that belong to one or other culture is now suddenly likely to get removed or relocated.
The University of the Free State has come under fire for the statue, together with that of former South African State president Charles Robberts (CR) Swart.
OFM News previously reported that Petersen alluded to the fact that all steps in the process pertaining to the matter – as to whether the MT Steyn statue will remain or be removed – were followed and that as the rector and vice-chancellor, he was pleased that the process had an academic component, which sought to inform members of the public who Steyn was.
Petersen added that the university had given all the affected stakeholders the opportunity to voice their views.
– OFM News