By Matthew Savides
A school outside Amanzimtoti is being renamed after bomber Andrew Zondo.
The Lovu Primary School will, as of Friday, take the name of the ANC activist, who was convicted and hanged for bombing the Sanlam Centre in the town in December 1985.
One of the victims of the bombing, Willem van Wyk, who was two years old at the time, will have the on-site creche named after him in a move described by the school's principal as reconciliatory.
The announcement comes amid ongoing controversy over the eThekwini municipality's street renaming process.
Opposition parties are against the renaming, saying that pupils would learn that their school was named after a convicted bomber, which would not be a good influence on them.
The decision to rename Kingsway in Amanzimtoti after Zondo has been one of the most hotly contested renaming moves, with the town's residents threatening to pull down the new street signs.
According to the national government, renaming has at its core the ideal of reconciliation.
Lovu principal Mzwandile Sibiya said locals wanted to give the newly built school a name and came up with several suggestions. Among them was retaining the name Lovu Primary School, but there was another school further down the South Coast with the same name.
After several meetings between the school governing body and community leaders, they eventually settled on Andrew Zondo, and on naming the creche after Willem.
Sibiya said there were also plans to build a swimming pool, a hall and other facilities, each of which would be named after influential people from the community.
"This is all for reconciliation purposes. This is not a black-white thing, this is about honouring people who did what they did in the line of duty. Even Zondo apologised for what he did, and Willem van Wyk became involved in the struggle without even knowing it. This is not racial at all," he said.
However, DA councillor Roger Burrows said the choice of Zondo's name for the school would not promote unity.
"The insensitivity of renaming stands in strong contrast to the Nelson Mandela birthday celebrations, where all the nation joins together. The name of Zondo is so divisive and reflects on an incident which can only harm community relations in our country.
"Naming a school after a convicted bomber, who killed innocent civilians, whatever the supposed justification, is not where this country should be going," he said.
eThekwini mayor Obed Mlaba said it was strange that people praised Mandela for his role in the struggle, but were quick to condemn the role played by Zondo.
"There is a distortion, which I find completely nauseating. For us, any liberator will always be a hero. Any person who participated in liberating us (from apartheid) is a hero, even more so if they were incarcerated for their activities," he said.
Asked about the political implications of the school's name change, Sibiya said the decision was not his.
"This was not me, it was the parents. I'm just serving the community, and the school belongs to the community," he said.