Five interesting facts about the Paul Kruger statue

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for the removal of Paul Kruger's statute in Pretoria, vowing to destroy what it has described as symbols of white supremacy and apartheid. Photo: Dewar

JOHANNESBURG - Stephanus Johannes Paulus "Paul" Kruger was president of the South African Republic - a region later to be known as Transvaal - from 1883 to1900.

Kruger was president during the majority of the period of the second Boer War against Britain. Seen as the iconic guardian of Afrikanerdom, he is a divisive figure in South African history.

He went into exile in Europe in 1900, sensing defeat against the British, and died in Switzerland in 1904, aged 78. His body was later returned to South Africa and interred at Heroes' Acre in Pretoria.

The Economic Freedom Fighters has since 2015 been calling for the Paul Kruger statue in Church Square, Pretoria to be removed and replaced by a statue of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

But what is the history of the statue.

1. The Paul Kruger statue was commissioned by Sammy Marks, an industrialist and mine owner who had a close relationship with Kruger, and who facilitated the negotiations that led to the end of the Anglo-Boer War, in Vereeniging on 29 May, 1902.

2. Marks gave Anton van Wouw, a Dutch sculptor, his first commission to create a monumental statue of Paul Kruger. Van Wouw who had moved to Pretoria aged 28,was 38 when he received the commission.

3. The statue was sculpted by Van Wouw in 1896 and was cast in bronze in Rome. It was completed in 1899 and transported to Lorenco Marques, where it arrived as the Anglo Boer War commenced.

4. A pedestal had been erected in Church Square to house the statue, but this remained vacant for many decades, while the statue was erected initially at Prince's Park, and later at a location outside Pretoria railway station.

5. The statue was finally erected on the pedestal in Church Square and unveiled by Prime Minister DF Malan on 10 October 1954.

The statue was defaced during the 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign that occurred in Cape Town in 2015. After initially claiming responsibility, the Economic Freedom Fighters retracted when faced with legal action by the Tshwane Municipality.

The original flag of the South African Republic, known as the "Vierkleur",  is mounted on the Paul Kruger statue in Pretoria on 8 April, 2015, after the statue had been defaced with green paint. Credit: eNCA / Bianca Bothma


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