JOHANNESBURG: Amid racist taunts, a group of people throwing buckets of white paint defaced a statue of Mahatama Gandhi.
According to Security Guard Ntandzo Khwepe, the incident took place on Sunday noon when a bunch of people came in a car and threw buckets of white paint on the statue and surrounding plaques detailing Gandhi’s history in South Africa.
The offenders were also holding placards saying, “Racist Gandhi must fall.”
Located in the centre of the city, the statue is believed to be the only one in the world showing Gandhi as a young lawyer in his court robes.
It is placed on a public transport hub square which was later renamed Gandhi Square because the offices in which he practiced law during his stay in the city is on the side-line of the square.
“They said we should not stop them because Gandhi was a racist man,” the security guard said and added that the group was wearing African National Congress (ANC) regalia.
While all tried to flee from the spot, one man was nabbed who remained nonchalant and claimed that his political bosses would soon get him free, Khwepe said.
Police spokesman Kay Makhubela informed of charging the caught offender with malicious damage to property.
The incident was reported on the same day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of the iconic leader, who is broadly respected across the globe, in Germany.
Condemning the incident, ANC spokesman Keith Khoza denied any involvement of the ruling party and said that they could have been posing as ANC members to harm the reputation of the party. The ANC has been well-known in ensuring the endurance of Gandhi’s heritage in South Africa.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatama Gandhi in India, arrived in South Africa in 1893 and stayed there till 1914.
Gandhi spent the early stage of his stay in Johannesburg with establishing his legal firm. From 1906 Gandhi became actively involved in politics; this helped formulate his ideas on passive resistance.
Since the first democratic elections in 1994, several statues of Gandhi have been put up across South Africa.
(With PTI Inputs)