Emotions ran high on Thursday when the street name-change issue came before the Tshwane Metro Council’s meeting.
The new names approved by council will be submitted to the Minister of Arts and Culture and the Geographic Names Committee for approval. The Democratic Alliance (DA) accused the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) of not representing Afrikaners, while the latter accused the former’s regional leader (North Gauteng), Tshepiso Msimang, of being a “token black”.
Msimang had earlier said that the DA represented more Afrikaners than the FF+, adding that the three FF+ councillors – Dr Conrad Beyers, Piet Uys and Philip van Staden – represented themselves.
Beyers responded and said that Msimang was a “token black” and could not take any decisions.
He further stated that the FF+ would possibly challenge the name change issue in court.
DA caucus leader Brandon Topham said it was important that the new street names reflected everyone’s history. Topham said the DA would have changed the names if they were in power.
“We would have changed the names… we have to respect everyone’s history,” said Topham.
Azapo councillor Mankoto Lesufi said it had taken too long for the metro council to implement changes. “The time of change has taken too long. Azapo was growing very impatient on change,” he said.
Lesufi said the metro council needed to get rid “of the vestiges that represent the previous regime”.
Cope councillor Kedibone Mathebe said they supported the ANC-led metro council’s decision to change the names.
“But we believe that the (public participation) process was not properly conducted,” she said.
Mathebe said they were surprised that a new name had been proposed for Church Street.
“There is nothing derogatory about Church Street,” she said.
Mathebe said there was “ambiguity” regarding the name Madiba, the new name proposed for Vermeulen Street. “Some people say it is the clan name of former President Nelson Mandela, others say it is a stream, while others say it is the name of a chief,” said Mathebe.
She added that Robert Sobukwe (the new name proposed for Esselen Street) deserved to be allocated a prominent street. “Esselen Street is too short,” said Mathebe, adding that Lucas Mangope’s name should not be replaced “as he served his people (in former Bophuthatswana)”.
PAC councillor Wandi Montjane said the ANC had shown maturity and vision with the name change.
Montjane said Church Street should have been changed to Jeff Masemola. “This would have made Atteridgeville residents happy. This is a man who was brutalised on Robben Island,” he said.
Executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa expressed his disappointment at the response of FF+ councillor (Philip) Van Staden, who had earlier stated that they had not reached any consensus on the name changes.
Ramokgopa criticised Van Staden, saying he was “ingenious” and should not be trusted.
Ramokgopa said it remained the ANC’s policy to engage the various political parties on the name change issue. “But of concern is councillor Van Staden’s attitude. He said a number of things during radio interviews and through other FF+ mediums and he has shown that he cannot be trusted,” he said.
He said the ANC had not “rammed” the street names issue through, but decided to consult other political parties represented in council. “The gloves are off… they can run to the court. We will defend that action. There is nothing unconstitutional that we are doing,” he said.
The name changes
* Church (there was a church on Church Square)
From Nelson Mandela to the East – Stanza Bopape (ANC activist murdered by security forces)
From Nelson Mandela to Church Square – Helen Joseph (anti-apartheid activist headed 1956 Women’s March to Union Buildings)
From Church Square to R511 – WF Nkomo (Medical doctor and educator)
From R511 to the West – Elias Motsoaledi (ANC activist, one of the eight men sentenced at the Rivonia Trial to life imprisonment)
* Michael Brink (Johannes Michael van Helsdingen Brink was the mayor of Innesdal before it was incorporated into Pretoria) – Nico Smith (anti-apartheid activist, lived with his congregation in Mamelodi)
* Zambezi (river) will now be known as Sefako Makgotho (politician, journalist, teacher and president of the SA Native National Congress)
* Hendrik Verwoerd (prime minister of SA) – Johan Heyns (moderator of Ned Geref Kerk, criticised apartheid and was assassinated)
* Voortrekkers / Beatrix (daughter of Meintjies, after whom Meintjieskop is named) / Mears (James Edward Mears was a businessman who ended up penniless) – Steve Biko (Black Consciousness Movement leader, died in Pretoria Central Prison)
* Hans Strijdom (apartheid prime minister) – Solomon Mahlangu (ANC activist, hanged in 1979)
* Mitchell (George Mitchell’s daughter Rebecca married John Soutter, who laid out Pretoria West, using many of his relatives’ names) – Charlotte Maxeke (religious leader and political activist)
* Schoeman (Commandant-General Stephanus Schoeman, at one time acting president of the ZAR) – Francis Baard (activist who participated in 1956 Women’s March)
* Van der Walt (owner of the farm Elandspoort on which Pretoria was established) – Lilian Ngoyi (anti-apartheid activist and president of ANC Women’s League)
* Andries (Andries Pretorius, after whom the city was named) – Thabo Sehume (Black Consciousness Movement stalwart and trade unionist)
* Jacob Mare (member of the ZAR Volksraad, song My Sarie Marais was written for his daughter) – Jeff Masemola (PAC activist and Atteridgeville teacher sentenced to life on Robben Island)
* DF Malan (apartheid prime minister of SA) – Es’kia Mphahlele (SA writer, academic, artist and activist)
* Prinsloo (legislator Joachim Prinsloo) – Sisulu (in recognition of the contribution of Sisulu family)
* Skinner (William Skinner, landdrost) – Nana Sita (anti-apartheid activist, member of Transvaal Indian Congress)
* Queen Wilhelmina (Dutch queen) – Florence Ribeiro (anti-apartheid activist who, with her husband Fabian, was killed by security forces)
* Esselen (Ewald Esselen, jurist and politician, attorney-general of ZAR) – Robert Sobukwe (PAC president)
* Vermeulen (Hendrik Vermeulen was a mason) – Madiba (affectionate name for former president Nelson Mandela)
* Schubart (Anton Schubart, a state secretary) – Sophie de Bruyn (anti-apartheid activist and founder of SA Congress of Trade Unions)
* Potgieter (PJ Potgieter was first full-time mayor of Pretoria) – Kgosi Mampuru (local chief in 19th century, his kraal was on the banks of the Apies River)
* Proes (BEC Proes was the first state attorney) – Johannes Ramokhoase (teacher and first black mayor of Pretoria)
* Duncan (Sir Patrick Duncan, the first South African to become governor-general) – Jan Shoba (Apla commander)
* General Louis Botha (first prime minister of Union of South Africa) – January Masilela (secretary for defence killed in car accident)
* Walker (after Arthur Walker or his son Mackie, surveyors)/Charles (Charles Marais, many streets in Brooklyn named after Marais family) – Justice Mohamed (Ismail, first chief justice appointed by post-apartheid SA )
* Lucas Mangope (president of the Bophuthatswana homeland) – Molefe Makinta (ANC activist)
* Leah Mangope (wife of Lucas Mangope) – Peter Magano (anti-apartheid activist)
* Paul Kruger (first president of ZAR) – name to be retained
* Pretorius (Boer leader after whom Pretoria was named) – name to be retained
* Nelson Mandela Drive – Nelson Mandela