South African officials want the miniature bunny removed from the statue, which was unveiled outside the government complex in Pretoria, the capital, on Dec 16, a day after Mandela’s funeral.
The department of arts and culture said it didn’t know the two sculptors, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren, had added a rabbit, said to be a discreet signature on their work.
The bronze rabbit, sitting on its haunches with one floppy ear, is about half the height of the ear canal.
“It doesn’t belong there,” said Mogomotsi Mogodiri, a department spokesman. “The statue represents what everyone in South Africa is proud of.”
His department said there are discussions on “how best to retain the integrity of the sculpture without causing any damage or disfigurement.”
Paul Mashatile, arts and culture minister, said the sculptors have apologised for any offence to those who felt the rabbit was disrespectful toward the legacy of Mandela.