Hendrik Verwoerd Drive is no longer

Published Jun 14, 2007


Two Randburg roads, Hendrik Verwoerd and Hans Strijdom will be renamed Bram Fischer and Malibongwe drives, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) said on Thursday.

"Street names are significant because they help us to celebrate aspects of our history, and to pay tribute to our heroes. There are very few people in Johannesburg today who would want to pay tribute to Verwoerd and Strijdom," said City of Johannesburg councillor Ruby Mathang. She supervised the work of the JDA and managed the street-naming policy of the city.

Hendrik Verwoerd Road will now be called Bram Fischer drive - after Abram Louis Fischer, a human rights lawyer and member of the SA Communist Party. Fischer led Mandela's defence team at the Rivonia Treason Trial.

Hans Strijdom road will be renamed Malibongwe Drive.

According to the JDA, "Malibongwe" means "praise the women" and refers to the 1956 women's march against carrying passes.

A long process was followed to rename the roads and included public participation.

After receiving public comment on changing the existing names, the JDA called for submissions on the proposed new names.

Bram Fischer and Malibongwe drives were decided upon and the city would implement the changes soon.

The previous names seemed to glorify apartheid leaders, the agency said.

"Currently five of the main roads in the Randburg area are named after previous National Party ministers or senior officials, giving the area the impression of being rooted in the apartheid era," said spokesperson Sammy Mafu.

The streets were originally named after two South African prime ministers. Verwoerd, remembered as the architect of apartheid, was prime minister when the ANC was banned and at the time of the Sharpeville massacre. He was assassinated in 1966.

"Hendrik Verwoerd and Bram Fischer represented polar opposites within the Afrikaans community. Verwoerd was the architect of apartheid, Fischer one of its most courageous opponents."

Strijdom was in office from 1954 to 1958, during which time he removed coloured people from the voter's roll and severed diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union.

The renaming was part of the process undertaken by the JDA to revitalise the Randburg area.

"We need to build an inclusive identity for the Randburg area by building an environment of which we can all be proud, and by re-thinking key street names so that we all feel comfortable in the area," said CEO of the JDA, Lael Bethlehem. - Sapa

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