IT was a “historic” day when Western Boulevard was renamed after anti-apartheid stalwart Helen Suzman yesterday, said mayor Patricia de Lille.
By changing the “symbolism” of public spaces and utilities, the city changed “to one that draws strength from our shared heritage”.
Yesterday would have been Suzman's 94th birthday.
De Lille and Premier Helen Zille unveiled the new road sign yesterday morning after jazz musician Tina Schoor opened the ceremony with a tribute.
“It is a historic day for all those who believe we should recognise the heroes of our past who allowed us to enjoy the freedom and democracy that we have in South Africa today. Today, we continue with our policy of social redress, one of the cornerstones of which is changing the spatial environment in which we live. This is indeed a special occasion.
“Today we rename Western Boulevard after one of the greatest stalwarts of the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, Helen Suzman,” said De Lille.
The mayor said Suzman served for many years as the lone voice in Parliament opposing apartheid.
“Through intimidation, slights, threats, and many other challenges besides, she stood firm for what she believed in, which was an end to racially oppressive tyranny. For years, she stood up to those who would try and shout her down, both in Parliament and without, people she called bullies,” said De Lille.
She said the city was “fortunate to honour her in our way”.
She also said yesterday’s renaming means the two major arteries linking east and west have been renamed, the one honouring former president Nelson Mandela, the other honouring Suzman.
“Meeting together, they represent the best values in all of us and remind us of what we are trying to achieve”.