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There’s an FW on your stoep

Published Jan 23, 2015


Nicolette Dirk and Francesca Villette

AMID the fierce debate about the proposed renaming of Table Bay Boulevard to FW de Klerk Boulevard, it turns out that there is already one street named after the former South African president and Nobel Peace Laureate.

But there are no qualms in Wesbank, off the R300 highway, about FW de Klerk Street. The suburb even has a Marthinus van Schalkwyk Street, named after the ex-tourism minister and last leader of the National Party, and a Gawa Samuels Street, named after the former deputy mayor of Cape Town.

Yesterday, city officials were uncertain about how the street names in the suburb were chosen and who made the decisions. The FW de Klerk Foundation didn’t know about it.

And ANC leader in the city Tony Ehrenreich, who also didn’t know about it, was hopping mad – even though it would appear that the streets were named while the ANC controlled Cape Town, but not the ward.

Wesbank ward councillor Cynthia Claasen said yesterday the street names had been a part of the township since its establishment in 2000.

City naming committee chairman Brett Herron said it was assumed that the community had participated in the naming process.

“As the DA was not the ruling party at the time, it is impossible to say for certain. This process would have been determined either by the New National Party or the ANC under the then mayor (Nomaindia) Mfeketo,” he said.

“At this stage it is still a recommendation until such time that the council has made the final decision.”

FW de Klerk Foundation spokesman Dave Steward said neither De Klerk nor the foundation was aware of a street in Wesbank named after him.

“We were also not aware that streets in Wesbank have been named after other political leaders. De Klerk has stated that it is his general view that, with one or two exceptions, streets and places should not be renamed after living people,” Steward said.

Ehrenreich threatened protest action if the names were not changed. “It is an insult that a street in Wesbank is named after De Klerk. We will protest to have it removed,” he said.

But Claasen said there had never been an issue around the naming of FW de Klerk Street.

“Many people had classified him as a hero and they still do today. Not once was it brought to my attention that there was a request to change the name,” she said.

And it appeared that the people of Wesbank were not upset.

The sprawling DA stronghold has 5 146 houses. Resident Betty Uren, 52, lives in Marthinus van Schalkwyk Street and she has never felt angry about the name.

“It’s not about the name, it’s about the people living there. Government’s attention should be diverted to catering to the well-being of its people, making sure they have a comfortable living space, rather than bothering with people of the past,” she said.

Joseph Sepkt, 42, has lived in Wesbank for the past 14 years. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, probably because I don’t know who those people are. But I am still living in squalor,” he said.

Herron said no final decision had been made. “The naming committee’s recommendation will be debated in council as to who will make the final decision on whether Table Bay Boulevard should indeed be renamed after former president FW de Klerk.”

Herron said the naming committee was responsible for implementing policy which provided guidance about which names should be considered.

“The proposal to name a street after De Klerk does meet the requirements. There are few honours higher than a Nobel Peace Prize.”

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