Witbank may be next in line for name change

Proposals to rename Witbank to Emalahleni (Zulu for “place of coal”) will be opposed by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Provincial DA leader Clive Hatch said the name Witbank was not discriminatory nor hurtful to anyone and had no apartheid connotations.

“(We) pledge that the DA will continue to oppose the change through every avenue available and will challenge every step taken in the process,” said Hatch on Wednesday.

Hatch said Witbank was known internationally as a steel and vanadium producer.

But Mpumalanga Geographical Names Committee chairperson John Skhosana said consultations had already been finalised and that only Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan's decision was outstanding.

“As far as the committee is concerned, all processes have been followed and it's up to the minister to decide (the outcome),” said Skhosana.

Mpumalanga has already changed 49 place names, mostly those of rivers and other natural landmarks.

The most controversial change was changing the name of the Blyde River Canyon - an international tourism attraction - to Motlatse Canyon.

Motlatse is the third largest canyon in the world and is South Africa's fourth most- visited tourist attraction.

Skhosana said Standerton was also likely to be renamed Sakhile (Zulu for “we're here to stay”). Kriel is likely to be renamed Kwanala (Zulu for “abundance”).

The name Malelane will be corrected to Malalane, in honour of a legendary Swazi warrior.

Ackerville will be renamed Thomas Mahlanguville in honour of executed liberation activist Thomas Mahlangu.

Eerstehoek will be renamed Ekulindeni (Zulu for “place of waiting”) to commemorate apartheid-era forced removals in 1975.

Offensive village names will change. Kafferskraal will become Ezimbuthumeni, Boesmanspruit will become Waterval, Kafferskraalkop will become Endlulamithini and Boesmanskraal Empangeleni.

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