Vandals are stealing the city’s heritage, with the historic sundial in the Company’s Garden having been targeted most recently.
While the sundial was stolen, bolts from the bottom of the Arch, an installation placed at the Adderley Street entrance to Government Avenue, as a birthday gift to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, have also been disappearing.
Although there is little documented information about the sundial, many are familiar with the artefact, which is a national heritage site, as declared by National Government under the National Heritage Act.
JP Smith, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, said the theft of the sundial was of great concern to the City, as the Company’s Garden was an integral part of the city’s history and every effort to preserve the facility and its artefacts was made by the City’s recreation and parks department.
“The sundial is of particular importance as it dates back to 1781 and each component of the piece has a significant historical value.
“The sundial has historical value and the damage or theft of components to the piece cannot be adequately quantified. This also impacts directly on the quality of the experience of local and international tourists to enjoy the facility, as they visit the garden and learn more about Cape Town’s preserved history.”
While the City said the theft had been reported, police seem to have little knowledge of it.
When the CapeTowner ap-
proached the Central police for comment, spokesperson Captain Ezra October said police would be able to review CCTV footage from the Garden after the City had laid a charge of theft.
Meanwhile, Design Indaba will be taking the necessary precautions to secure the bolts on the bottom of the Arch when they replace it. The Arch was unveiled on Saturday October 7, last year to coincide with Archbishop Emeritus Tutu’s 86th birthday (“’Arch’ honoured with very own arch, CapeTowner, October 12, 2017).
Commissioned by Design Indaba, the wooden arch was made by Oslo and New York-based architecture firm Snohetta and Johannesburg-based architect Thomas Chapman.
Beverley Cupido, the project manager at Design Indaba, said they were in the process of having the bolts replaced, as well as securing them so that they could not be easily removed.
“We don’t really understand the vandalism as it takes a lot of time and effort to remove them, but the next step is taking the extra precautions for this not to happen.”
She said the bolts would be replaced this week, and the plates, due to specialised work required, would be replaced in the next month.
When the CapeTowner spoke to some of the homeless people about the vandalism of the Arch and the theft of the sundial, they were willing to share their thoughts but did not want to be named for fear of being victimised.
A homeless woman said she didn’t believe the sundial had been stolen by a homeless person, as they would have heard about it by now. She said some of the homeless didn’t even know that the sundial was missing.
“The Garden also means a lot to the homeless people. For some of them, it is their home, and a place of solitude and relaxing. I don’t think they would have stolen it, but we will keep our eyes and ears open.”
A homeless man told the CapeTowner the bolts on the Arch were “a waste of time” to steal because a single bolt weighed relatively little.
“You have to take many to tip the scale when selling it as scrap,” he said.
The City said there were two security guards on duty at night on the inside (fenced off area of Company’s Garden), and the CCID security were in the Government Avenue until about 9pm. After 9pm, there were patrols by law enforcement.