An application has been made to the city to change the name of Johnny Claassens Street. Picture: Oupa Mokoena
Pretoria - The Garsfontein we know today was once ruled by King Makerana Mabena of the Manala Tribe – therefore he should be honoured in the place that was once his home.

This is detailed an application to the City of Tshwane for the change of the name of Johnny Claassens Street in Extension 8 to King Makerana Mabena Street.

“The name Makerana Mabena is derived from a brave person who was a leader and king of the Manala Tribe. The group resided in the area and as a result the street name (change) is welcomed by all the previous inhabitants.”

This is the motivation given by His Majesty the King Funwako, Jan Mabena said in his application.

“Although the said tribe of other groups who resided there have been moved by force by the white regime to various locations, this renaming will hold their heritage and uphold their dignity in so far as their identity is concerned.”

Funwako is a descendant of the king, who he said in the application, reigned during the 1600s. He lives in KwaMhlanga and initially made his application in August 2014.

In September last year, the city sent a letter to Leo Middelberg, the ward councillor in the affected area, notifying him that an application had been made to change the name of Johnny Claassens Street.

He was asked to make the application the first item at the next ward committee meeting and arrange for community participation to get input on the street renaming application.

The public participation meeting took place at the Serene Retirement Village Community Hall located on Johnny Claassens Street on Wednesday evening.

The main reason given by those who attended in objecting to the application was the costs involved for all those who would be affected by the name change.

“For individuals it is an inconvenience to update an address change, but businesses as well as the council would incur massive costs due to this. There’s a ripple effect,” Middelberg said during the meeting.

The costs to change business letterheads, maps, GPS systems and other factors would need to be considered.

Middelberg said they acknowledged that King Makerana Mabena ought to be recognised, but they suggested a compromise – that the name be sent to the local geographical names committee for consideration when there’s a new development in the city.

“All the other streets in the area are named after sports people, so why should this one be changed?” Middelberg cited as another reason objecting to the application.

Others in attendance quipped that the street was rather short and the name change would not be as significant as it might be on a longer or more prominent street.

The Garsfontein police station is situated in the street, and it was thought this was the reason for the decision.

Garsfontein Extension 8 was established during the apartheid era on land previously owned by the now defunct city council of Pretoria. The streets in the area were given the names of white former Springbok sportsmen and women.

Johnny Claassens, after whom the street in question was named was a soccer player, along with Trevor Gething, Aubrey Tyrrell and Claude Brink, who all have roads named after them.

Other names in the area include Brian Ellwood and Snowy Walker who were lawn bowlers, hockey player, swimmer Karen Muir, and George Daneel, a rugby player.

Middelberg was given five days after the meeting to submit certain documents to prove the meeting took place and 30 days to give feedback to the city.

Pretoria News