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IT’S official: Cape Town’s major roads will be renamed after some of the country’s most celebrated Struggle icons, and other roads and city-owned buildings will be named after national and Cape Town-born anti-apartheid activists.
The city’s naming committee rubber-stamped the proposals after deliberating until late last night. Voting started at 6.45 and the green light for the changes was given shortly after 7pm.
This follows consultation with more than 19 000 residents across Cape Town.
Early estimates put the cost of the process at about R2 million for roads alone – for new street signs, names on road kerbs, and street name plates.
For one of the more controversial proposals, mayor Patricia de Lille engaged with the family of ANC activist and former national minister Dullah Omar, and it was decided not to name Vanguard Drive after Omar.
The ANC says the Omar family and Athlone residents are calling for Jan Smuts drive to be named after the late politician.
De Lille said she was open to more talks with the Omar family, adding she would have no problem with the ANC being involved in these discussions.
The other name changes include:
l The NY1 in Gugulethu becomes Steve Biko Drive.
l Coen Steytler Avenue to be changed to Walter Sisulu Avenue
l Hendrik Verwoerd Drive becomes Uys Krige drive, after the Afrikaans poet.
l Modderdam Road will be named after Robert Sobukwe.
The naming committee approved that Lansdowne Road be divided into four sections, all with different names. Three parts will be named after Govan Mbeki, Imam Haron and Jeff Masemola. The section between Wetton Road and Turfhall Road remains Lansdowne Road.
They have also agreed to name a footbridge between Bonteheuwel and Langa the Bonte-Langa footbridge.
They have also agreed not to rename DF Malan, Jan Smuts, Long Street, Jip de Jager and Willie van Schoor drive.
The ANC wanted to deliberate on these.
These were the proposals from the naming committee and came after public participation.
During this phase, there were more than 15 000 door-to-door surveys. There were also just over 3 000 submissions via the city’s website.
Added to this were four public meetings in the affected areas.
The proposals were for possible changes to 24 streets, two civic centres and a footbridge.
The ANC agreed with all the name changes, except the way Lansdowne Road would be renamed. It was against it being renamed in sections. It also did not agree with the fact that several names were not up for renaming.
Brett Herron, chairman of the naming committee, said the new names were guided by “redress”.
“Naming is a powerful tool – city’s place markers reflect history… streets and public places must reflect the diversity of all our people.”
He pointed to the renaming of Hendrik Verwoerd, an “iconic apartheid figure”.
Herron said there were some unfortunate experiences during the public meetings.
“We had to endure some of the crudest responses, showing deep-seated prejudice.”
Leonore van der Walt, DA councillor, said the renaming process was “sensitive”, fuelled by a history of division.
Speaking on the Modderdam Road change, Van der Walt said Robert Sobukwe was “highly intelligent” and a “born leader”.
Monty Oliver, DA councillor, also explained the reasons for changing Wittebome Civic Centre to Wynberg Civic Centre.
He said Wittebome and Wynberg civic centres had divided along racial lines during the apartheid era.
“It was merely a way of saying the one is for whites and the other for people of colour. There is only one Wynberg,” said Oliver.
On the renaming of Coen Steytler after Walter Sisulu, the city said Sisulu was a leader of the people.
Nceba Hinana, also from the DA, said Sisulu stood for “the unification of races”.
Hinana said Sisulu was the product of a mixed marriage and a “leader of the people”.
During the meeting, Biko was hailed as a “martyr of the freedom struggle”.
Xolani Sotashe, the ANC chief whip, suggested that Jan Smuts Drive be named after Omar and that the entire Vanguard Road be named after Struggle icon Govan Mbeki.
However, De Lille said the Omar family did not support that Vanguard Drive or a portion of Jan Smuts be named after Omar.
Instead, they had suggested opening a facility that assisted residents and would bear his name.
“It is my understanding the family do not want a road named, and we need to look at a different way of honouring him.”
It was suggested that the public participation to rename the rest of the Native Yard (NY) roads kick off on Heritage Day.
And a new public participation process will start for new names for all the Milner roads.
Eastern Boulevard is now known as Nelson Mandela boulevard. And Western Boulevard was named after Helen Suzman.