Time to pull rabbit out of Mandela's ear

The 9m Mandela statue has a tiny rabbit sculpted in one ear. Photo / AP
The 9m Mandela statue has a tiny rabbit sculpted in one ear. Photo / AP

The South African Government has ordered the removal of a rabbit that was secretly sculpted into a recently unveiled statue of Nelson Mandela.

The artists who built the 9m bronze colossus in Pretoria cast a tiny rabbit in the ear of the statue, without clearance from the Government.

"We want to restore the integrity of the sculpture as soon as possible," Ministry of Arts and Culture spokesman Mogomotsi Mogodiri said.

The Government said it did not know of the rabbit's existence until a local newspaper brought it to its attention.

The two bronze sculptors, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, said they added the mammal as their "signature", and have apologised for doing so without permission.

"We accepted their apology," Mogodiri said.

It was not known how long it would take to remove the rabbit.

The boss of the company that was contracted by the Government to erect the statue, which in turn hired the two artists, said the artists' action was "regrettable" and akin to a "senseless prank".

Dali Tambo, chairman of Koketso Growth, said it had from the beginning been decided against engraving the statue.

But the names of the artists were going to be installed at a plaque near the statue.

"It is regrettable that the artists chose this way of expressing their opinion about not signing the sculpture," said Tambo, who is also the son of one of the leading anti-apartheid politicians, Oliver Tambo.

Built at a cost of eight million rand ($886,125), the 4.5-tonne sculpture is the largest of Mandela statues erected around the world, and was unveiled a day after Mandela was buried.

Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president after 27 years in apartheid prisons, died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95.


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