Battle over street renaming

By Barbara Cole Time of article published Jan 25, 2012

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As the controversial eThekwini street renaming saga entered another crucial stage on Tuesday , word is spreading that the most contentious name of all has already gone up on signposts.

Andrew Zondo, the ANC cadre and bomber who planted a limpet mine in a shopping centre dustbin that killed five people 26 years ago, is now being celebrated on two large direction signs.

The name that will be welcomed by some and detested by others was put up recently just a few kilometres from the Sanlam Centre shopping mall (now the Toti Mall) where the bomb went off on December 23, 1985.

The blast also injured 40 Christmas shoppers.

Then in 2007, and to the horror of many – particularly those closest to the victims – the city council decided that Kingsway, the longest road in the area which stretches from Warner Beach to Athlone Park, should be renamed after the bomber.

And despite objections and court appeals, Zondo’s name stuck.

Even the bomber’s father, KwaMashu-based Pastor Aiken Zondo of the Africa Evangelical Church, was against the plan, seeing it as insensitive.

He called for the council to compromise on the issue, saying that it would incite people.

In December, the DA went to the Supreme Court of Appeal over the entire street-renaming process.

The court ruled that nine renamed streets under the first phase of the programme had to revert to their former names and the signs bearing the new names had to come down.

The council has restarted the process on them, calling suggestions from the public.

The deadline for submissions was yesterday.

Suggestions are now going to be consolidated and submitted to the metro’s Governance and Human Resources Committee, according to Siyabonga Mngadi, the deputy head of geographic information.

However, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that 98 other renamed streets, including Andrew Zondo Road, could stay.

Zondo’s name now appears on large signs on the side of a stretch of upgraded road, near a turn-off to the N2 and the road to Port Shepstone.

They are opposite the new Galleria shopping centre and face the road to KwaMakhutha, where the bomber lived.

The majority of local people, who have long been keeping a look-out for any sign of Zondo’s name, missed them going up. No other Andrew Zondo signs have appeared anywhere else on the road. The name Kingsway is still on street poles.

Asked when the new Andrew Zondo street signs would go up, the council said it was an ongoing process and there were backlogs.

Ian Shearer, whose wife, Anna, was killed in the blast, said that he would ignore the signs. “It means nothing to me. It will always be called Kingsway to me and others,” he said.

Shearer, whose daughter Elaine was just 18 months at the time of the bombing, lives in Kingsway and travels past the Zondo signs every day.

His daughter, now 27, said that although she had not seen the new signs, there was nothing she could do and it was no good getting upset about them.

The Daily News was unable to find out what Zondo’s father thought of the signage bearing his son’s name.

The weak-sounding pastor initially answered his cellphone, but he said he was sick and as his voice faded, he could not be heard again.

His son was hanged in l986.

Historian Ken Gillings, who had lodged an official objection against the new name, remains outraged.

“I am absolutely appalled by this, particularly as Zondo’s own father did not want this to happen,” he said.

“eThekwini Municipality has completely destroyed the heritage of Durban with its renaming fiasco.

“It has destroyed every vestige of reconciliation that Nelson Mandela strived for.

“It is terribly insensitive and one of the worst aspects of riding roughshod over people’s feelings.”

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