SOUTH-AFRICA-EASTERN-CAPE-L ArchivesArchiver > SOUTH-AFRICA-EASTERN-CAPE > 2008-08 > 1219609678
From: "Becky Horne" <>
Subject: [ZA-EC] SA's oldest monument vandalised again
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 22:28:42 +0200
Daily Dispatch, East London, Eastern Cape
23 August 2008
By David MacGregor, Port Alfred Bureau
[Check link for pic]
A GRAHAMSTOWN fisherman caught more than he bargained for when his sinker
became entangled in rocks near Kenton-on-Sea and he waded out and found a
heavy limestone cross.
The discovery of a replica of the Dias Cross by Nico JANSE VAN RENSBURG last
weekend - below a vandalised monument to Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu
Dias - has raised concerns about the safety of national treasures in remote
areas. "We could not believe our ears when Nico said he had hooked Dias
Cross ," fishing buddy Dr. Darth CAMBRAY said yesterday.
The cross, commemorating the discovery of South Africa by Dias in 1488, was
dragged from the water at Kwaaihoek by JANSE VAN RENSBURG and stashed at the
base of the monument - because it was too heavy to carry along the beach.
"I ... climbed up the side of the cliff ... with the cross over my shoulder.
It was heavy, but I kept going because I thought it had to go back where it
Disgusted at the vandalism of a monument he first visited in "Standard 3",
the 20-year-old said he also found two massive pillars and a portion of the
broken cross wedged in rocks. "The pillars are too heavy for one person to
The cross was finally retrieved yesterday by the Daily Dispatch and local
conservation head Fanie FOUCHÉ - who is allowed to drive on Sunshine Coast
The oldest monument in the country, the cross was first erected near the
Bushman's River Mouth by Dias in 1488 to mark the spot of two "excellent
spring water" sources - after he was forced more than 1000 miles off course
of his intended voyage by heavy winds.
Unaware that the cross had been smashed down and thrown into the sea, Albany
Museum curator Fleur WAY-JONES yesterday said she was "very sad" the
heritage site had again been vandalised. She said vandalism and the theft of
brass plaques was a huge problem in the area.
All the plaques at Dias Cross and two huge pillars have been removed and the
base of the monument chipped away.
Although the original cross was found in 1938 by historian Dr. Eric AXELSON
and stored at Wits University, the latest barnacle-encrusted discovery has
raised doubt among the anglers whether it is the one that was recently
smashed down by vandals.
Although a replica was installed in 1938, it is not known whether it was
The latest discovery does, however, have a raised area at the base of the
cross similar in size to an insertion slot on the top of the sandstone
The cross was taken to Port Alfred for storage.