'Rhodes statue must be moved, not destroyed'

A movement called ‘UCT Rhodes Must Fall’ believes the statue is a symbol of racism.

UCT students drape a black plastic bag over the head of the Cecil John Rhodes statue at the campus. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Students protesting against the University of Cape Town's (UCT) Cecil John Rhodes statue on Wednesday said they don't want it destroyed because it's a part of history, but they do want it moved out of sight.

The movement called, ' UCT Rhodes Must Fall', believes the statue is a symbol of racism.

A small group picketed on Wednesday, while UCT says the dialogue about the future of the statue has started with the Student Representative Council and will be decided upon next week.

At the forefront of the protests is student, Kealeboga Ramaru, who said, "This particular statue stands in the middle of the institution and it's a source of pain and trauma to a lot of black students."

WATCH: A group of UCT students are insisting on the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue

In a letter to staff and students, UCT Vice-Chancellor Max Price said broad consultation is needed on this issue before any decisions are taken.

In the letter, Price said the university is committed to transformation and happy to engage in a dialogue around statues, names of buildings and other symbols that some view as divisive.

On Tuesday, Price said he would personally like to see the statue removed from the campus.

Price told Eyewitness News , "I completely understand how the statue makes a lot of people feel, but I don't think it's airbrushing history, I don't think the statue should be destroyed."

Preliminary statistics show that under a third of students enrolled at UCT in 2014 were white, while 45 percent were black, Indian and coloured.

Social media users have been debating the fate of the statue on Twitter since the movement started.

UCT students protests against a statue of the thief, supported by a university named after the thief....hmmm #Rhodes

Credit to the students at UCT unpacking white privilege and it's continued debilitating modern day impact. Shows great maturity.

Wow quite an appeal! Rhodes Must Fall! Getting noticed with the Cape Epic happening here at UCT... pic.twitter.com/iDvwlkgq23

What happens if one thinks tearing down the statue of Rhodes is a sign of weakness not strength?