Jan. 23 - The South African government has ordered the removal of a rabbit inside the ear of Mandela's 9-meter bronze statue, saying it's not appropriate. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) South Africa's government is up in arms over a bronze rabbit crafted inside the ear of a large statue of former president Nelson Mandela unveiled last month. The government said it wanted the creature removed to "restore integrity" to the 9-meter (30 foot) bronze sculpture of the anti-apartheid hero, who died on December 5 at the age of 95. The statue, the world's biggest representing Mandela, was inaugurated at South Africa's government buildings 11 days after his death. Artists Ruhan Janse van Vuuren and Andre Prinsloo say they added the animal, its ears erect, as a personal stamp after the government stopped them from engraving signatures on their 4.5 ton statue, and as a nod to the tight deadline they faced. The Afrikaans word for rabbit, "haas," also means haste. The artists have since apologized. The hidden rabbit was only discovered last week by the Afrikaans language Beeld newspaper, a month after the sculpture was inaugurated on the lawn of the hilltop Union Buildings overlooking the capital Pretoria. A spokesman for the Department of Arts and Culture, Mogomotsi Mogodiri, said the government did not think the added animal was appropriate. Mogodiri rejected the suggestion that Mandela, who was known for his sense of humor, might find the rabbit amusing.