World

South African university removes statue of colonialist, other apartheid era statues vandalized

  • A crane prepares to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Cape Town University in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 9, 2015. The University of Cape Town will today remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes after weeks of protest by South African students, who said the statue had become a symbol of the slow racial transformation on campus.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

    A crane prepares to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Cape Town University in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 9, 2015. The University of Cape Town will today remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes after weeks of protest by South African students, who said the statue had become a symbol of the slow racial transformation on campus. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)  (The Associated Press)

  • A crane prepares to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Cape Town University in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 9, 2015. The University of Cape Town will today remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes after weeks of protest by South African students, who said the statue had become a symbol of the slow racial transformation on campus.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

    A crane prepares to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Cape Town University in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 9, 2015. The University of Cape Town will today remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes after weeks of protest by South African students, who said the statue had become a symbol of the slow racial transformation on campus. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)  (The Associated Press)

  • A crane prepares to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Cape Town University in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 9, 2015. The University of Cape Town will today remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes after weeks of protest by South African students, who said the statue had become a symbol of the slow racial transformation on campus.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

    A crane prepares to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the Cape Town University in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, April 9, 2015. The University of Cape Town will today remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes after weeks of protest by South African students, who said the statue had become a symbol of the slow racial transformation on campus. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)  (The Associated Press)

A South African university removed the statue of a British colonialist, responding to student protests that have described it as a symbol of white privilege.

On Thursday, a crane lifted the decades' old bronze statue of Cecil John Rhodes from its perch overlooking the University of Cape Town as students cheered.

Protesters, known as the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, on their Facebook page described Rhodes as a mass murderer who stole indigenous land.

The movement has sparked a wave of similar protests in which apartheid-era statues have been vandalized.

The university's governing council, made up of students and staff, voted on Wednesday to remove the statue.

A smaller counter campaign, titled Rhodes Must Stay, had argued that the statue should be protected as a symbol of South Africa's heritage.