Steytler family deeply offended

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Cape Town - The family of Coen Steytler say they are deeply offended that the city has renamed the road after Walter Sisulu.

In a letter to Premier Helen Zille, they accuse the DA of sacrificing principles to pander for votes.

The Steytler family say they were not consulted and it appears that their 2007 submission had not been taken into account when the street renaming committee had decided on the name change.

However, Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, said the renaming would not please everyone. More than 19 000 people had been consulted, he added.

Their rage comes hot on the heels of the anger expressed by Dullah Omar’s family and the ANC when the city refused to rename the entire Jan Smuts Drive after the struggle veteran. The city and the family have since agreed that a centre, to help disadvantaged children, will be built in his honour.

Last week the full council agreed to renaming a number of streets across the city, including that:

- The NY1 in Gugulethu becomes Steve Biko Drive.

- Hendrik Verwoerd Drive becomes Uys Krige Drive.

- Modderdam Road will be named after Robert Sobukwe.

Steytler was a civil servant who chaired a committee established to develop the Heerengracht.

Writing on behalf of the family, Will Stiger said they were deeply offended by the callous way the honour had been appropriated for narrow political ends. “Where do we and our children fit into this new society which considers our heritage irrelevant?”

He said the airport should have been renamed in Sisulu’s honour and Coen Steytler should have remained.

Freedom Front Plus councillor Andre Fourie said it was a high-handed and arrogant slap in the face of the Steytler family and it would haunt the DA and its allies. “Neither Zille nor [mayor Patricia] de Lille will ever be able to leave behind a legacy of this magnitude to the city of Cape Town.

“The Foreshore and Waterfront stands as a monument to the memory of one of South Africa’s great sons - Coen Steytler,” Fourie said.

Stiger wrote: “Are we to continuously see the honours bestowed on exceptional individuals for exemplary achievements, obliterated on the altar of political expedience?

“If so, what is the point of contributing to the building of a better South Africa as opposed to simply pursuing personal gain?”

Herron said the public consultation was never intended to be a voting process. Its purpose, he said, was to gauge opinion and weigh this up in the decision-making process.

The public consultation process did, however, indicate a majority of support for the renaming of Coen Steytler to Walter Sisulu.

“I understand that the results have disappointed and saddened the Steytler family. It is not easy to accommodate everybody in this very difficult process. Our objective is to build an inclusive city where our street and place markers reflect the full diversity of all our people as well as a full account of our history,” Herron said.

Certain names would have to be changed to achieve this and it was not meant to “impugn the reputation or the contribution of all the names we have resolved to change”, Herron said.

[email protected]

Cape Argus


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