Durban Elephant Sculpture will be monitored by CCTV

Durban elephant sculpture will be monitored by CCTVeThekwini municipal workers removed the green shade cloth covering the three elephant sculpture at Durban’s Warwick Triangle yesterday, leading to fears that the city might be removing the disputed structure

However, the city had begun cleaning the site after they agreed to a High Court order to preserve the Warwick Junction sculpture from further destruction by vandals who had looted the art works.

The High Court order was brought by artist Andries Botha last week after he discovered that one elephant had been completely destroyed and the other two had been damaged by vandals.

The matter did not go to a full court hearing as the city and Botha’s lawyer were able to settle the matter in chambers, with the city agreeing to protect the sculptures from destruction, theft and other harm.

Starting on Monday the municipality had removed the wire enclosure to allow the city’s surveillance cameras to better monitor the site, said ethekwini spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng.

“This is in response to the court agreement,” he said.

Botha said that he was pleased with the city’s latest move in the saga adding that he was optimistic that there was a change of heart in the hallways of City Hall.

“From my point of view it is very important that the city has acknowledged that it is at best a shareholder and that it has an obligation to protect the ratepayers’ investment in these sculptures,” Botha said.

“If you look at the sculptures they do not look in good shape so it appears to me that the ratepayers’ investment has been somewhat neglected. I do not know what the next move is. Perhaps I could be optimistic to say that there is a change of heart in the new city management and there is a willingness with the new city manager to bring an end to this ridiculous situation we find ourselves in,” he said.

Botha and the ethekwini Municipality were expected to lock horns in the Durban High Court later this month over what Botha claims was an “unconstitutional political decision” by the city to halt the sculpture’s completion three weeks before it was to be unveiled two years ago.

Botha had been paid R1.2 million out of a total of R1.6m for the project when it was canned in February 2010.

The city has never said why it stopped the work on the sculpture, but it is widely believed that former ANC chairman, John Mchunu – who has since died – objected to the three elephants saying it resembled the symbol of the IFP.

Botha said yesterday that he was willing to meet the city to resolve the impasse.

“I am clear, the elephants have a right to exist as creative eco-symbol and I reject any notion past and present that they are remotely a political symbol.

“I had tried to take this up with the city as low-key as possible to resolve the situation. For reasons best known to the city they have chosen not to do that and in the interim the sculpture has been seriously damaged. I don’t know where we go from here. We should meet around a table… and I believe that this can be resolved.

“Everybody needs to take responsibility for where we are at,” he said.

Daily News