CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 9 (UPI) -- The University of Cape Town in South Africa has removed a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes after a month of student protests.
The statue was removed in front of a cheering crowd and will be stored for "safe keeping." The university is located on land Rhodes previously donated.
The "Rhodes Must Fall" campaign began in March after an activist threw human excrement on the statue in protest against racism and Rhode's legacy at the university.
"UCT will immediately submit an application to Heritage Western Cape to have the statue removed," the university said in a statement Wednesday. "We have concerns about the safety of the statue and believe that the only way to protect it while Heritage Western Cape is considering our application, will be to temporarily remove it for safekeeping."
The statue was first unveiled in 1934. Rhodes seized land in southern Africa more than 100 years ago, increasing the extent of the former British Empire.
"The removal of the statues will, apart from polarizing society, remove forever the opportunity to place the statue into its historical context and remove the opportunity to help develop a common heritage," Len Raymond, chairman of the Heritage Association of South Africa, told Bloomberg. Preserving South Africa's past would "promote understanding of the dark side of the symbols of colonialism and apartheid," he added.
Other statues of colonial figures include Paul Kruger, an Afrikaner leader who opposed the British in South Africa and became the fifth president of the country.
"Symbols aren't inanimate objects, they are powerful devices that must be removed if they pay homage to a dark and oppressive past," Khaya Dlanga wrote for South Africa's Mail & Guardian.