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Sunday, June 27, 2021


(Above: The vandalised elephant)

Last month, one of the elephant sculptures located in the Warwick Precinct created by internationally renowned Durban sculptor Andries Botha and commissioned in 2009 for the Soccer World Cup, was vandalised.

EThekwini Municipality’s Spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela confirmed that Andries Botha had a high court order which compelled the city to protect the artwork as an investment made by ratepayers as they are a cultural and heritage investment of City. A CCTV camera was positioned to watch the artwork when it was completed.

He reports as follows:

“The elephants in their current position mark an alleged spot where the last free roaming elephant was killed at the turn of the Century, this becomes a symbolic gesture of the ‘rise’ of the species in a post-colonial city. The site also falls within the trek/elephant track between the Ridge/Berea area and the beach.

“With regards to the camera as per court order, requests for video footage have been made to the designated section within the Council (Disaster Management) to provide such a recording to assist with the insurance claim. The footage will be handed over to the police who are leading the investigation.

“A criminal case was opened at the Durban Central Police Station (25.5.2021) on the day of the incident. The CCTV recording that is requested will also include the weekend coverage. The staff from Local History Museums, as part of their work do regular site visit/monitoring of various heritage spaces/sites within the City to monitor conditions and to report any incidents and/or contact sister departments for maintenance work that is required  such as the cutting of grass or removal of litter etc.

(Right: The elephant in its original form)

“An insurance claim has been lodged with the City’s Insurance Department and the artist and his team will do the repairs. This has been the norm since the works were installed and the artist is better suited to make repairs/adjustments if necessary, from the original idea to ensure better protection of the artwork.

“The insurance put up for the repairs is at R200,000 as the work will need to be removed from the current site to the artist’s workshop and will require the replacement of the armature and galvanized wire that forms the structure of the elephant. A report to Council will be made requesting authority to release funds for this task - this was an unplanned programme and as such Council decision must be taken prior to commencing any work.

“The City is negotiating with the artist to have the artwork relocated to the Beach Promenade adjacent to the under-pass from Moses Mabhida Stadium, as part of the first ‘public art works’ in the revamped Promenade. This will also bring the possibilities of the City to honour the contract it has with the artist of installing a herd of 7 elephants. The Promenade, like the Warwick site has a direct link to the history of the elephants that roamed the Durban in the early years, that heritage aspect is not lost and it connects to Elephant House on Florida Road and the trek the elephants made from the natural habitat of the Berea/Ridge to Greyville and back to Warwick

“The Beach Promenade, besides providing constant 24 hour surveillance, will also promote the elephants to a larger audience and allow for better engagement with the artwork as most people on the Promenade are on foot or cycling in the area, whereas the current site the work becomes obscured by both traffic, advertisement boards and risks of accidents (pedestrian and vehicular).”