The statue will be relocated to the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein. Petersen told OFM News the relocation of the statue will be done as soon as the university has obtained approval from the Free State Heritage Council.
The Council at the university last year in November resolved to relocate the statue off-campus after students raised concerns over it and vandalised it several times during the height of protests, calling for its removal from campus.
“The Steyn family has indicated that they will support the statue to be relocated from where it is at the moment, in front of the main building, to the war museum. We will now start with the process of applying for a permit from the Free State Heritage Authority and once we get the permit, then that will enable us to do the physical relocation to the war museum.”
The statue has in the past few years drawn much controversy with many students stating that it is a pre-apartheid artefact, which is a painful reminder of the apartheid sins and has no place in a post-democratic South Africa.
The university’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and other organisations have for years alleged that the statue does not represent the values of the university and demanded that it be removed.
Petersen has reiterated that the decision to relocate the statue should not be considered as an attack on a specific race, culture or ideology and that its removal does not mean all of the memorabilia, art symbols and statues that belong to one or other culture will now suddenly get removed or relocated.
Steyn was the sixth and last president of the independent Orange Free State from 1896 to 1902 and his descendants remain members of the Bloemfontein society with many of them among the university’s alumni.