Rhodes statue saga: Dept calls for speedy transformation

Some students at Rhodes University now want the name of the institution to be changed.

Marching down the steps towards the Cecil John Rhodes statue and using the slogan "Rhodes Must Fall" some students are demanding the statue must be taken down on the University of Cape Town's campus, as it represents institutional racism. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Higher Education and Training on Thursday called on all universities to speed up transformation in light of recent student protests.

A group of University of Cape Town (UCT) students have been demanding the removal of a statue of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.

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

At Rhodes University in Grahamstown, some students have been campaigning for the institution to change its name.

Protesting student Thembani Onceya said, "The movement has suggested a lot of names of those who are internationally well known so they can use that name."

The Student Representative Council (SRC) at Rhodes University has also come out in support.

SRC president Siyanda Makhubo said, "The SRC at Rhodes had agreed in principle that the statue must indeed fall, this speaks to a physical transformation that needs to takes place in UCT and in our country as well."

Both institutions have been accused of lacking transformation, with non-white students being allegedly marginalised.

Protests at UCT are continuing on Friday with the 'UCT Rhodes Must Fall' movement insisting the statue be removed.

Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said the department supports the protest.

"A university must be a representative of a new society, a changed society. It can't represent the historical past."

Nkwanyana said the Rhodes statue should be moved to a museum.

On Thursday night, staff and students at Rhodes met to discuss issues of transformation while UCT has called for similar dialogue.

Rhodes University Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela said he believed the name of his institution should only change if the majority of the university's community wanted it to.