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‘Removal of apartheid statues is an insult to SA’s rich history’

The ANC on Tuesday said the country’s past needed to be preserved.

FILE: Paul Kruger and the Burghers statues splashed with green paint. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday said the removal of statues representing the apartheid era would be an insult to South Africa's rich history.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF's) national leadership has been encouraging all South Africans to physically destroy statues including that of Paul Kruger.

WATCH: Paul Kruger and the Burghers statues splashed with green paint

Over the weekend the party's Tshwane division claimed responsibility for painting Church Square's Kruger statue green, while the EFF's Nelson Mandela Bay branch set alight the War Memorial statue in Uitenhage.

This followed protests by students at the University of Cape Town who demanded the Cecil John Rhodes statue be removed from its campus.

The ANC's Zizi Kodwa insisted the country's past needed to be preserved.

"There has got to be a decision that we need to keep them in some museum as part of our heritage, as part of our history; painful as it is, but it is important to keep that history. We don't believe they must be destroyed, we don't believe they must be defaced."

Meanwhile, Eastern Cape police have taken a man in for questioning following the destruction of a war memorial statue in Port Elizabeth.

A group of men, believed to be EFF members, used a sledgehammer to topple the Horse Memorial Statue on Cape Road.

The man is believed to have driven the getaway vehicle.

The police's Ronald Koll said they were monitoring CCTV footage.

"We've got fingerprints. Once we've got all this information we will go and arrest that person and take them to court, because we've now got information and footage putting some people on the scene with a sledgehammer."

'RHODES STATUE NOT A NATIONAL MONUMENT'

At the same time, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in the Western Cape said the statue of Cecil John Rhodes was not a national monument and therefore UCT had the right to take the decision about whether to remove it.

UCT students and their 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement took the country by storm, since the campaign to remove the statue began.

The ANC youth league addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon saying it supported the removal of the statue.

It also encouraged the public to get involved in the campaign.

Western Cape ANCYL chairperson Muhammad Khalid Sayed said it had been conducting research regarding the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue.

"The statue of Cecil John Rhodes is not a national monument and therefore it is not protected under the Heritage Act of 1999; which means, in essence, that UCT has the power to remove it."