Cape Town - It’s official - Hendrik Verwoerd Drive in Tygerberg Hills is no more. After a six-year process, the City of Cape Town on Thursday renamed six streets - including that named after the former prime minister and architect of apartheid.
Hendrik Verwoerd Drive is now Uys Krige Drive, after the popular poet, writer and dramatist.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Krige’s daughter, Eulalia Krige, said they were thrilled that their “simple father” had been recognised by the citizens of Cape Town.
“It is a tremendous honour,” Krige said.
“My father was a fighter for the rights of the poor and the marginalised. He spoke a lot, but was well loved.
“We are thankful to the mayor and everyone involved with nominating my father to be named after a street in this wonderful city.”
Other streets renamed on Thursday include Coen Steytler Avenue on the Foreshore to Walter Sisulu Avenue and Modderdam Road to Robert Sobukwe Road.
Lansdowne Road has been divided into three sections: from Turfhall to Palmyra roads it is now Imam Haron Road, the stretch from Wetton to Swartklip roads will be known as Japhta K Masemola Road, and the section between Swartklip and Baden Powell Road has been renamed Govan Mbeki Road.
The Athlone Civic Centre has been renamed Dulcie September, after the Gleemore teacher and ANC activist who was assassinated in Paris in 1988.
September’s niece, Nicola Arendse, said she was three years old when her aunt left the country.
“I’d just started university when she was killed, and we didn’t even know what she was involved with and doing overseas until after her death,” Arendse said.
“Dulcie September worked towards justice for our country and was murdered because of that commitment.
“Some may not know her, but when they walk past the Athlone civic and see her name, they’ll ask and someone will tell them who she was.”
Professor Mohamad Haron, son of Imam Abdullah Haron, who flew in from Gaborone for Thursday’s ceremony, said: “Imam Haron and the others honoured here today lived ubuntu in the real sense of the word.
“They lived for others and through others and were eventually killed for the cause.
“The renaming process is a step in the right direction, despite what the critics say. We have to remember those who made a positive contribution and who lost their lives fighting for freedom during the Struggle.”
Lulu Mabusela, speaking on behalf of the Sisulu family, said whenever she and the other grandchildren visited Cape Town in the 1970s, they would know that they were “close to Tata”, who had been in prison with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island.
“Today’s event is a progressive step to creating a more open and inclusive city,” Mabusela said.
Otua Sobukwe Whyte, speaking on behalf of the former PAC leader Robert Sobukwe’s family, said: “By renaming a major road after my grandfather, citizens of Cape Town have ensured that his legacy will never die.”
“I pray that my generation will mirror the great works of all of those who are honoured here today. Nothing makes me happier than to see my grandfather being remembered for good.”
Linda Mbeki, speaking on behalf of the Mbeki family, said her grandfather had been under the impression that things would change after the dawn of democracy.
Before his death in 2001 he thought that he and many others had fought for and secured a safer and equal South Africa for all citizens.
“Were he here today, I’d tell him that he was wrong,” Mbeki said. “The right to life has no meaning today. Women are raped and beaten. These are abnormal times. Were he here today I’d tell him that without his leadership we feel helpless.”
Mbeki said the family was honoured to have the name of their “pillar of strength” on a street in Cape Town.
“My grandfather was an ordinary South African man, but he cared for people and justice.”
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said the renaming process was an open and fair process.
“Our naming and renaming process is a way of reclaiming our common history and changing our very way of thinking and, in so doing, recognising our shared past.”
Who they were:
Coen Steytler was the brain behind development of the Foreshore and was instrumental in transforming Cape Town into a modern city, a civil servant who chaired a committee to develop the Heerengracht.
Walter Sisulu was an anti-apartheid activist and a leader of the ANC who served 25 years on Robben Island, after which he was elected party deputy president. A close friend of Nelson Mandela, was married to Albertina Sisulu and was the father of the current Speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, and Lindiwe Sisulu, the public service and administration minister.
Hendrik Verwoerd (1901-1966) was prime minister from 1958 until his assassination in 1966, and the man behind the formal conception and implementation of apartheid. He was prime minister during the establishment of the republic in 1961. During his tenure anti-apartheid movements were banned.
Uys Krige (1910-1987) wrote novels, poems and plays in English and Afrikaans. During World War II he was a war correspondent with the South African forces in north Africa, was captured at Tobruk and spent two years as a prisoner of war before escaping. Krige also translated many Shakespeare plays into Afrikaans, as well as works by Baudelaire and Pablo Neruda.
Robert Sobukwe (1924-1978) was an activist who broke from the ANC in 1959 to form the PAC, becoming its first president. On March 21 the PAC led a nationwide protest against the carrying of passes, and Sobukwe was arrested in Soweto. On that day police opened fire on PAC supporters at Sharpeville, killing 69. After years of solitary confinement on Robben Island, he was released in 1969 and forced to live in Kimberley where he opened a law practice.
Lord Lansdowne (1845-1927) was Viceroy of India and later Britain’s secretary of state for war from 1895, a post he held at the time of the start of the Anglo Boer War in 1899. He became British foreign secretary in 1900.
Imam Abdullah Haron (1924-1969) became imam of Al-Jamia Mosque in Claremont in 1955. He publically criticised South Africa’s race laws, particularly the pass laws and the Group Areas Act. He was arrested in 1969, and killed in custody, allegedly having “slipped on the stairs”.
Japhta “Bra Jeff” Masemola (1928-1990) was a founding member of the PAC. He died in a mysterious car accident on his way to hospital only six months after his release from Robben Island, having served 26 years.
Govan Mbeki (1910-2001) was one of the leaders of the ANC imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. The father of former president Thabo Mbeki, he was freed in 1987 and became deputy president of the senate and later the National Council of Provinces.
Dulcie September (1935-1988) was a Cape Town anti-apartheid activist jailed for five years for conspiracy to commit sabotage in 1964. After her release she was banned, and left South Africa in 1973. She became the ANC’s chief representative in France, and was shot dead outside the ANC’s Paris office on March 29, 1988.