Three (Four) Elephants

Three Elephants


Date: 1991
Dimensions: L7100mm x W1900mm x H2320mm
Media: Rubber, wood, metal, neon

March 2013 Update:

Update: Completed

May I take this opportunity to address the most important aspect of the success that we have gained in the so-called “Elephant Saga” in Durban. In hindsight it is completely evident to me that the victory in securing the rebuilding of the elephants is an example of a multi-layered advocacy that does not include one person, but many. I have personally been encouraged and taken heart from the many supporters that have spoken passionately and articulately about the tragedy of the Durban Elephants. You are all too many to name, those of you who have loyally supported the social networks and spoken your strong and articulate views about the on-going saga between myself and the eThekwini municipality.

I would like to unreservedly thank you for your support in securing this important legal decision on behalf of the freedom of speech, the right for the public to have access to creativity and last, but not least, the moral authority of a work of art as a piece of intellectual property that is so adequately protected by our constitution. You have all played a most significant and important part in this significant victory. It is also now true that the elephants have now truly become part of the public property and ownership.

I would also like to thank by name my legal team who entered this legal discourse in order to defend not only the constitution but the principles at hand. They are Gilbert Marcus, Max du Plessis, Alan Boulle, Toby Orford and last but not least J P Purshotum. If I mention individuals by name I suspect I shall be held responsible for omission. There have been many and I am, of course, grateful for their loyal support.

We are currently in discussion to begin the rebuilding phase. We shall keep you informed as the matter progresses.

Once again, may I assure you that your support was inspiring and comforting and this victory would not have been possible without you.

Sincerely and respectfully

Andries Botha

The elephants are emerging out of an island in the middle of a freeway.

Method of Construction: Galvanized mild steel armature cladded with stainless steel mesh and tacked with bronze from the local quarry. It takes its construction principle from gabians (see visual).

In the week of 8 February 2010 the ANC put a halt to the finalisation of the artwork. It has been claimed that the elephants are an IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) symbol. The artwork was two weeks from completion.


November 2014 Update: Three (now four) Elephants project has recommenced

Durban gets it’s jumbos – four years later

5 STAR DURBANon October 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

The city of Durban has shown renewed interest in art, says artist Andries Botha, whose on-off-on elephant sculpture work looks set to finally transform the N3 entrance to the CBD. Four years after his grand steel-and-stone elephants were shot down by an eThekwini politician, he was back on site this week, carrying on where he had left off.

The city this week gave the go-ahead for the sculptures, on the N3 at Warwick Triangle, at a cost of R1.4 million.

Botha has begun reassembling the three elephant sculptures – one had been destroyed by vandals, while the other two were partly damaged. On Wednesday he added another – one more than he was commissioned to build in 2009 before the 2010 World Cup. He was ordered to stop work in February 2009 when an ANC politician decided the sculptures looked too much like the IFP’s logo.

For safety reasons, Botha built the metal frame of the new elephant in his workshop and transported it to the site. He said the fourth elephant was in line with the original concept and design.

“The fourth elephant… will be free-standing and rise from the ground. It will be surrounded by three elephants (emerging from) the ground in different poses. (The sculpture symbolises) the rebirth of elephants. Historically, elephants roamed this area before they were killed by hunters.”

Botha said he would have to rebuild the damaged sculptures and replace some of the stolen metal. He also needed to buy more rocks.

“Part of the money was paid last week by the city to help me get the project off the ground. Normally, you would be paid on completion of the work, but in this case I had evidence that I had already made two of the elephants.”

On Wednesday, Botha and his team – Sbu Mazibukho, Siya Madlala, and Ernest Ngcobo – had put up the fourth elephant and began placing rocks inside them. eThekwini Municipality spokeswoman, Tozi Mthethwa, confirmed that the dispute between all parties had been resolved. Mthethwa said a security guard would be deployed and a surveillance camera installed on site during the four-month construction period.

When completed, the elephants will be signed over to the city’s Libraries and Heritage Department.


Press Release