Artist of Arch mural to put positive spin on defacement

The mural of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Longmarket Street.

The artist who painted the mural of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Longmarket Street has expressed his disappointment at the defacing of the artwork over the Heritage Day weekend.

The discovery of the words “ek is n’ k****”, written inside the Arch’s spectacles, was reportedly made by two videographers on Saturday September 25.

The words were removed as soon as it was reported.

Brian Rolfe, who painted the striking image, as well as the one of Nelson Mandela next to it, said it was very unfortunate that someone expressed themselves in this way, in this day and age. “I think it’s really sad, and I think they should be prosecuted with the full might of the law.”

However, to put a positive spin on it, Mr Rolfe said on the Arch’s birthday, which will be celebrated on Thursday October 7, he will go back and paint the words “I am a legend ” on the other side of his spectacles as a response to the defacement.

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town said they were supporting the investigation to find the perpetrator.

The mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien, said while the work was not commissioned by the City, it was devastating to see the destruction of an iconic mural celebrating the life of the Archbishop.

“The owner will be urged to repair the damaged mural and or open up a case for the matter to be investigated. The City will support the investigation however possible.”

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, in a statement, said the foundation was “repulsed by the use of the k-word” in the defacement of the mural.

The CEO of the foundation, Piyushi Kotecha, called on South Africans to emulate and recommit to the values of the Arch and to reject all forms of racism.

“Fundamental scars still dominate the South African landscape and psyche. “Using the despicable k-word, one so full of hate, directed at none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a person who has unfailingly lived by the values of true respect, ubuntu, forgiveness, integrity, reconciliation and compassion, illustrates just how far we have to go.”