By Newsgram Staff Writer
A group of people defaced a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa by throwing buckets of white paint on it. The protesters also ranted slogans of racism against the iconic freedom fighter, a newspaper report said.
According to security guard Ntandzo Kwepe the incident occurred yesterday when a group wearing African National Congress regalia came in a car at about noon and threw buckets of white paint on the statue and surrounding plaques detailing Mahatma Gandhi’s history in South Africa.
“They said we would not stop them because Gandhi was a racist man,” Khwepe said, and added that the protesters bore placards saying, “Racist Gandhi must fall.”
As the group tried to flee, one person was nabbed, though he remained nonchalant about it saying his political bosses would rescue him. Police spokesman Kay Makhubela said he would be charged with malicious damage to property.
The statue in the center of the city is unique as it is believed to be the only one in the world showing Gandhi clad in his court robes as a young lawyer.
The statue is on a public transport hub square which was renamed Gandhi Square because the offices in which he practiced law during his stay in the city is on the periphery of the square.
Ironically, the incident took place on the same day Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of the iconic leader, who is widely revered across the globe, in Germany.
ANC spokesman Keith Khoza condemned the incident and denied the ruling party’s involvement, saying that they could have been posing as ANC members to discredit the party.
Since the first democratic elections in 1994, a number of statues of Gandhi have been erected across South Africa.
One is at the at the railway station in Pietermaritzburg, where he was kicked off a train compartment reserved for whites, prompting the start of his Satyagraha movement in South Africa and later in India.
Former President of India, Pratibha Patil had also unveiled a bust of Gandhi and a permanent exhibition of his time in South Africa at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, the seat of the country’s highest court.
There have been shouts of racism against Gandhi by black youth groups in recent months for the alleged use of the derogatory term kaffir, for indigenous blacks in his writings.