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MAYOR Patricia de Lille and the council should ignore a recommendation to change Coen Steytler Avenue’s name to Walter Sisulu Avenue, descendants of Steytler say.
Steytler was the brain behind development of the Foreshore and was instrumental in the transformation of Cape Town into a modern city, they stated in a letter to the Cape Times.
Coen Steytler Avenue was among nine renamings a city ad hoc naming committee recommended to De Lille.
These included Vanguard to Dullah Omar Drive and Modderdam to Robert Sobukwe Road.
De Lille is expected to present her recommendations to the council next month.
Steytler’s descendants said it appeared the renaming committee knew very little about who he was.
“His term of office far predated the apartheid era and he can in no way be tarred with the same brush as the previous Nationalist functionaries and politicians. In fact, the Steytler clan are renowned for their part in the evolution of the liberal political movement in South Africa.
“We as the Steytler family are thoroughly disheartened by the disdain being shown to the memory of an individual who played such a huge part in the shaping of our Mother City. Are we to continuously see the honours bestowed on exceptional individuals for exemplary achievements, obliterated on the altar of political expedience?” the family asked.
“We hope the mayor and the council will appreciate and acknowledge the huge contribution this man made to the city of Cape Town and ignore the recommendation of the naming committee who clearly did not have an appreciation of what Coen Steytler did for the city,” they wrote.
The family said Steytler had been the force behind a scheme which had financed the Foreshore’s development without any cost to the city.
“He masterminded a project which left the city of Cape Town much enriched and beautified.”
Committee chairman and mayco member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said the renaming recommendations followed an extensive public participation process and renaming Coen Steytler Avenue received the most support.
“Of the nearly 2 000 responses we received, the majority favoured (it). The process was well advertised and it would have been easier if this (views of Steytler’s descendants) were received beforehand.
“The suggestion to rename Coen Steytler Avenue was not because his name was deemed offensive.”
He said businesses on Coen Steytler Avenue had proposed the name change.
Freedom Front Plus city councillor Andre Fourie said: “Coen Steytler was not a controversial figure. The whole Forshore and Heerengracht actually stand as monument to him. Changing the street name is a slap in not only his face but also his family’s.”
The sentiments of Steytler’s descendants came a week after Omar’s family said they wanted Jan Smuts Drive named after him, while Smuts’ granddaughter, Katusha de Kock, said he had earned the honour of having a street named after him.
Approached about the letter from Steytler’s descendants, De Lille’s spokesman, Solly Malatsi, said yesterday she was still applying her mind to the recommendations submitted to her by the naming committee.