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City loses part of its history – possibly forever

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The diamond sieve or traditional washing pan being held up by the five miners in the Diggers Memorial Fountain – was stolen on Thursday night.

The diamond sieve or traditional washing pan being held up by the five miners in the Diggers Memorial Fountain – was stolen on Thursday night. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

A PART of Kimberley’s heritage has been lost – possibly forever – after the diamond sieve or traditional washing pan being held up by the five miners in the Diggers Memorial Fountain – was stolen on Thursday night.

Municipal spokesperson, Thoko Riet, confirmed on Friday that municipal employees reporting for work on Friday morning noticed that the metal sieve was missing.

“It appears that the metal pedestal of the sieve was stolen on Wednesday evening. However, on Thursday morning the sieve was still there. On Friday morning, the workers found that the sieve itself was also missing.”

Riet stated that the water in the pond surrounding the fountain had recently been drained by the municipality to clean the pond. “The fact that there was no water probably presented an opportunity for someone to steal the sieve,” she stated.

On Friday morning, however, municipal workers refilled the pond.

“It is very sad, as this is a part of Kimberley’s heritage that has been destroyed,” Riet said. The statue, which was built in honour of past miners, has been here since 1960.”

The diamond sieve or traditional washing pan being held up by the five miners in the Diggers Memorial Fountain – was stolen on Thursday night. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Riet added that a case of theft had been opened at the Kimberley Police Station. “It is presumed that it was stolen in the hope that it can be sold as scrap metal. The base section was solid metal and exceptionally heavy. It is not even certain how someone managed to carry it away.”

The Diggers Memorial Fountain was designed by Herman Wald, a South African Sculpture, born in Hungary in 1906.

A working fountain, the statue was erected to honour the men “who pioneered the diamond industry” depicted five life-size miners holding up a diamond sieve and each of the five figures represents one of Kimberley’s five big diamond mines, namely Kimberley Mine, De Beers Mine, Bultfontein Mine, Du Toitspan Mine and Wesselton Mine.

The presence of a fountain in the dry mining city was believed to have been a symbol of hard work, economic success and good government. The work was commissioned by De Beers at a cost of £10 000.

At the time of its unveiling in 1960, it was reported that the statue was 18ft high, including the pedestal. “Jets of water issue from the sieve to fall into a pond 60ft wide,” the Rand Daily Mail reported.

“The five men holding a diamond sieve above their heads and jets of water cascade and shimmer in the sunlight, creating a symbol of the city’s wealth,” the Zionist Record stated.