By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A new weapon has been enrolled in the fight against the coronavirus – and nobody would mind if it commits war crimes against the enemy in the heat of battle.
A landmark Soviet-built T-34 tank has been painted in NHS livery to raise the morale of passers-by in Mandela Way, off the Old Kent Road.
The weapon of death was repainted as a way of saying “tank-you” to thousands of front line health workers in hospitals who are saving lives amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Its new colours have sparked conversations among everyone who has passed by.
Jamie Ryan, of East Dulwich, said: “It’s funny to see a tank on a residential road, and It’s great that something that was designed to kill people being used to support an organisation that saves lives.”
Millionaire property developer Russell Gray owns the tank, which is known locally as ‘Stompie’.
It’s been repainted many times over the years – sometimes with his permission, sometimes without.
So far it has had resprays in the bright primary colours of the Bauhaus movement, in zebra stripes, and in gold.
Mr Gray said: “It’s sometimes painted by guerrilla graffiti artists.”
He conceded the NHS painting was also done without his consent.
Stompie was first put on the site in Mandela Road, Southwark, as a protest against a decision by Southwark council which refused him permission to build a block of flats there.
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