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university of cape town protests


A Cecil Rhodes statue has been decapitated in Cape Town, South Africa.

The bronze bust of the British imperialist in a city park had its head removed with an angle grinder on Sunday night or Monday morning, South African National Parks said.

It is the latest monument associated with imperialism or slavery to be targeted since African American George Floyd was killed in US police custody.

George Floyd’s death triggered huge anti-racism demonstrations around the world.

Cecil Rhodes, a white supremacist, led the British colonization of parts of southern Africa during the 19th Century and made a fortune from mining.

Last month, a college at Oxford University said it would take down a statue of Cecil Rhodes after years of pressure by campaigners, who argued it was a symbol of imperialism and racism.

The Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town was built in 1912 on the slopes of Table Mountain and features eight lion statues alongside steps leading up to a granite building where the bust is.

South African National Parks said it had reported the damage to police.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The statue had previously been targeted and was first vandalized in 2001, when red paint was splashed on it. In 2017 its nose was cut off, but was restored the following year.

Another statue of Cecil Rhodes, at the University of Cape Town, was removed in 2015 after it became the focus of protests against colonial-era leaders.

Cecil Rhodes, a revered figure during the days of the British Empire, founded the De Beers mining company in South Africa and also took control of territory in southern Africa that eventually became Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He believed that the English were the master race.

Both South Africa and the former Rhodesia were ruled by white minorities for many years.

Cecil Rhodes left money to Oxford University’s Oriel College after his death in 1902 at the age of 48. A campaign to remove the statue of the colonialist at the college began after the 2015 protests at Cape Town university.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has suspended any increases in university tuition fees for 2016 after more than a week of student protests.

They have been the biggest student protests to hit South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994.

The students had rejected an earlier government offer to cap increases at 6%, down from the 10% to 12% proposed by the management of universities.

President Jacob Zuma announced the move as students gathered by his office in Pretoria.

Before Jacob Zuma’s TV address, police had been firing stun grenades and using water cannon to stop a small group of students breaking into the Union Building, the seat of government in Pretoria.South Africa tuition fees protests

On October 21, police clashed with students trying to force their way into the parliamentary complex in Cape Town.

The demonstrations have closed some of South Africa’s top universities.

“We agreed that there will be a zero increase of university fees in 2016,” Jacob Zuma said after meeting university officials and student representatives.

“In the long term, there is a package of issues that was raised at the meeting that needs to be followed up – these include free education, institutional autonomy [and] racism.”

During the protests, universities said they needed to increase fees to maintain standards, as they had been hit by a fall in government subsidies.