Iconic BCM memorials vandalised by thieves

The old brass plaque on the equestrian statue in front of the East London City Hall has disappeared.

The old brass plaque on the equestrian statue in front of the East London City Hall has disappeared.
Photographs of the memorial that were posted to the Facebook group “Fix our broken city (East London)” last week drew the ire of social media users.
The statue was erected in 1908 to honour those who were killed in the Anglo-Boer War from 1899 to 1902.
The statue is bronze and sits on top of an Irish marble plinth. The names of men from various divisions were included on the statue which was, in 1910, named the best equestrian statue by the Royal Academy of Arts in the UK.
DA councillor Sue Bentley told the Daily Dispatch that while she was uncertain of what exactly had happened to the plaque she noticed it was missing last week Wednesday.
“After we came out of a meeting last week Wednesday I saw the plaque was missing,” said Bentley adding that the plaque was on the side of the statue directly facing the City Hall, making it hard not to notice.
She said she hoped that the names on the plaque had been recorded elsewhere so that they could be replicated on a new plaque, preferably one that is made of a less valuable material like plastic.
Of a number of questions sent to BCM only those relating to the Desmond Tutu monument, which has also been vandalised, were answered.
“We can confirm that we are aware of the stolen piece from the monument, the Heritage Unit has not yet reported it as it just became aware of the incident,” BCM spokesman Sam Ngwenya said.
“It is important for the public to know the background of the monument. It was a gift given to Buffalo City by the Sunday Times honouring Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his contribution during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission event that started at the East London City Hall.
“As the City we are currently trying to procure a service provider to provide services to design, construct, supply, deliver and install a bronze statue of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a fitting position in front of the city hall. One of the reasons why we are not repairing but replacing the statues is that we are going to change the material to deter criminals from vandalising and stealing their parts for monetary gain.”
BCM had not confirmed by the time of print whether they knew about the missing plaque. When the Dispatch visited the city hall on Tuesday the plaque from the equestrian statue was still missing and the Desmond Tutu monument was in an appalling state.
Instead of a plaque the statue has a poorly painted, barely legible, handwritten sign.
This is not the first time this statue has been vandalised – in 2008 it was decapitated.
Just a few weeks ago, on October 27, 50 brass memorial plaques went missing from the garden of the St Patrick’s Catholic church in Vincent. One hundred and fifty brass plaques had been fixed to two memorial walls in the church garden which featured the names of late members of the church.
At the time Terry Taylor, chair of the parish council, said the church would be removing the brass plaques and replacing them with a valueless perspex material in an effort to dissuade thieves.
Taylor, in a post to Facebook, called on scrap dealers and anyone else offered the plaques to please call the church. He said a reward would be offered.
Taylor added that anyone with info on the missing plaques could contact the parish office on 043-726-6791 or his cell on 083-284-1786...

This article is free to read if you register or sign in.

If you have already registered or subscribed, please sign in to continue.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@dispatchlive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.