Secret rabbit in Mandela's ear has to go
THE South African government has ordered the removal of a rabbit that was sculpted secretly in a recently unveiled statue of Mr Nelson Mandela, an official said on Wednesday.
The artists who built the 9m bronze colossus in Pretoria added a rabbit in the ear of the statue, without clearance from the government.
Mr Mogomotsi Mogodiri, spokesman for the Ministry of Arts and Culture, said: "We want to restore the integrity of the sculpture as soon as possible."
The government said it was unaware of the rabbit's existence until a local newspaper brought the matter to its attention.
The two sculptors - Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren - who added the mammal as their "signature", have apologised for doing so without permission.
"We accepted their apology," Mr Mogodiri said, adding that it was unclear how long it would take to extract the rabbit from the statue's ear.
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".
Mr Dali Tambo, chairman of Koketso Growth, said that it had, from the beginning, decided against letting the artists sign their work by engraving on the statue. But the names of the artists were going to be installed in a plaque near the statue.
"It is regrettable that the artists chose this way of expressing their opinion about not signing the sculpture," said Mr Tambo, who is the son of the late anti-apartheid politician Oliver Tambo.
Built at a cost of 8 million rand (S$940,000), the 4.5-tonne sculpture is the largest statue of Mr Mandela. It was unveiled just a day after he was buried.
Mr Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president after 27 years in apartheid prisons, died on Dec 5 at the age of 95.