File Photo: Clyde Robinson
File Photo: Clyde Robinson

Date set for Nelspruit name hearing

By SAPA Time of article published Oct 2, 2013

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 Mbombela - The hearing that will decide whether Mpumalanga's capital city keeps its name, Mbombela, or changes back to Nelspruit has been scheduled for November.

 The High Court in Pretoria has set down the hearing for November 12 and 13, after two previous postponements, a Sapa correspondent reported.

 The Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT) is challenging the name change.

 "The KLCBT and the Nelspruit community are eagerly awaiting finality on this matter and we are positive to receive a ruling in favour of Nelspruit," said KLCBT financial manager Linda Grimbeek. 

"The city needs a name, it cannot be called both Nelspruit and Mbombela, as it is at the moment."

 Nelspruit's name was officially changed to Mbombela on October 16 2009, when it was gazetted by former minister of arts and culture Lulu Xingwana.

 KLCBT and its partners immediately filed an application in the Pretoria High Court, to set aside the proclamation on the grounds of a "flawed" name change process.

 They argued that the consultation process, as required by law, had been unfair.

 Grimbeek said KLCBT had raised R528 000 through donations from community members and local businesses to cover the legal costs.

 She said there had been confusion since the name change.

 "Even though the name change was approved, the implementation process has not yet been started because of the confusing proclamation of whether the city must be called Mbombela City or Mbombela," she said.

 "Then there are the legal proceedings that we have undertaken. All of these have blocked the process of implementing the name change."

 Grimbeek said the Mbombela local municipality was already in debt and would probably not be able to raise the R450 million needed to change, among others, the city's street names and websites.

 KLCBT said the municipality would have to carry almost half of the costs for the name change, and that as a result, taxpayers' rates could go up.

 Arts and culture department spokesman Mack Liwele said the matter would be dealt with in court.

 The provincial culture, sport and recreation department, which is the umbrella body for the provincial geographical names committee, has not changed its stance on the matter.

 "We will await the outcome of the court case and will thereafter act in accordance with the judgment," department spokeswoman Sibongile Nkosi said in an earlier interview.

 According to the SA Geographical Names Council and the arts and culture department, more than 849 names were changed in South Africa between 1996 and 2010.


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