Durban’s Elephant Sculpture

Earlier this year the elephants sculpture located in the city’s Warwick Precinct was again vandalised. This shocking and destructive act has led to the decision to have the sculpture relocated to the beach promenade.

Earlier incident

The sculpture by artist Andries Botha is made out of a wire frame filled with stones. This artwork was meant to be completed before the 2010 FIFA World Cup but the African National Congress (ANC) believed that the elephants were too similar to the Inkatha Freedom Party’s logo and the project was put on hold. Ultimately the artwork triumphed over politics and the sculpture project was allowed to go ahead. However, before the decision was made the elephants were vandalised. One of the elephants was dismantled, the wire were stolen and the other two sculptures were also damaged and spattered with red paint. In 2015, Botha finally unveiled his finished artwork with the addition of one more elephant from the initial three.

Recent incident

In May 2021 the artwork was again badly vandalised. One of the elephant’s trunks was ripped off, wire was stolen from the tail and other parts were destroyed. Botha said that the eThekwini Municipality failed to adhere to the Durban High Court order to “protect and safeguard ratepayers’ financial investment by ensuring the safety of the works.” He also said that, as per the court order, there should be a CCTV camera that monitored the sculptures as was the case when he finished the project.

Municipality spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, has condemned the act and called for witnesses to report perpetrators to the police. The vandalism has led to municipality to take a different approach to prevent the sculpture from being vandalised in the future.


“The work will need to be removed from the current site to the artist’s workshop and will require the replacement of the armature and galvanized wire that forms the structure of the elephant” said Mayisela.

Botha has agreed with the City to repair the elephant sculpture and have his artwork relocated to the revamped beachfront promenade next to Moses Mabhida Stadium. The new location will showcase the elephants to a larger audience and be kept under 24-hours surveillance.

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