Western Cape / 10 December 2010, 10:05am / Babalo Ndenze and Aziz Hartley
Oswald Pirow Street, honouring a Nazi sympathiser, is finally to be renamed and Eastern Boulevard is to become Nelson Mandela Boulevard.
Oswald Pirow is to be renamed after SA’s heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard, as the city’s renaming process finally gets under way after two false starts.
At the last meeting of the year of the Cape Town City Council yesterday it unanimously approved that a section of Castle Street between Adderley and Burg streets be named after Khoisan leader Krotoa, a “seminal figure in the early contact between the Koina and the first Dutch settlers”.
And the plaza spanning Hertzog Boulevard between the Civic Centre and the Artscape will be named after Albert Luthuli, South Africa’s first Nobel Peace laureate and a president of the ANC.
The council’s latest renaming move came as a surprise because it had recently scrapped a costly renaming panel of experts led by commentator Rhoda Kadalie, promising that a new committee would report on renaming by the next local government elections to be held by June next year.
Cape Town is the last major city to rename apartheid-era streets and places. The city not only accepted the name changes yesterday, but also adopted the city’s new naming policy aimed at correcting some of the problems that cropped up during the last process headed by Kadalie, which cost R300 000.
The renaming process started in April 2001 when then DA mayor Peter Marais proposed Adderley Street be renamed Nelson Mandela Avenue and Wale Street De Klerk Avenue.
In February 2007 the city council gave a provisional green light to rename Keizersgracht in District Six after slain musician Taliep Petersen. Then mayor Helen Zille acknowledged calls for the street to be renamed and set off a renaming process.
By May 2007, 238 submissions had been received over 22 days before the process closed. A panel of experts led by Kadalie recommended 31 streets be renamed by the city.
Although the name changes were adopted unanimously, some opposition councillors accused mayor Dan Plato and the DA of choosing only four changes to avoid upsetting its constituency.
“It’s taken the DA five years to change some names to represent that status quo. The point is (31) names were recommended by a panel but the mayor selectively chose four because you know we can’t refuse them,” said ANC chief whip Peter Gabriel.
He hoped the DA wasn’t “playing politics” by conveniently choosing the names of Luthuli and Mandela.
“This makes the DA look good before the election. They must also make a contribution and remove offensive apartheid names. We want you to come to the new South Africa that recognises all nations in this country. Many of our heroes died in the struggle and we want them to be represented. We support those four names, but the rest must get recognition,” said Gabriel.
Councillor Fumanekile Sizani (ANC) said experts chose the 31 names years ago and Plato “selectively chose three names that are close to our hearts”.
Andre Fourie of the Freedom Front Plus said very few amendments were made.
“You are very subjective in this. This is not a policy of council, it’s a DA policy that has been subjectively drafted. Very little amendments have been effected. Why scratch where it isn’t itching?”
Martin Fienies of the Universal Party queried the lack of street names in Tafelsig and Mitchells Plain.
“They fired Marais because of the street renaming fiasco. And there are still apartheid names, the native yards (NY) still there in Gugulethu.”
Owen Kinahan, who headed the street naming task team, said the city consulted widely.
“But nothing was taken away and little was added. But we need to steer people away from their obsession with streets,” said Kinahan.
He said the policy was not new. The ANC had come up with it when it was in power but nothing had happened.
“The four names are a good honest attempt to start this process. Eastern Boulevard is one of the most significant routes in the city.”
The new policy will be a continuation of the process and it may well decide to put the panel’s recommendations to further public participation. - Cape Times