The Constitutional Court has approved that the city of Tshwane should go ahead with its drive to remove 25 apartheid era street names in Pretoria, and replace them with those who fought for the liberation of the city.
The city received a go ahead note to remove the apartheid era street names from the court years after Judge Bill Prinsloo ordered that the city restored and replace signs bearing the old names within two months.
In 2013, the city of Tshwane appealed for the removal of these street names before a full bench of the High Court but was then turned down.
The city had since September 2012 started with this case when the city council resolved to change the street names in Pretoria and adopt new public participation policy guidelines for the process of renaming streets.
Today July 21st, the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional court have pushed aside Prinsloo’s judgment and said an interim interdict should not have been granted in this case.
However, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng had in a majority judgment‚ said having solicited a diversity of views‚ including those of Afriforum and other residents‚ the council had resolved — as it was empowered to do so — to replace the identified old apartheid Era Street Names.
Mogoeng said the High Court nevertheless granted an order restraining the council from implementing its decision, also directing it to reinstate old names at the cost of R2.6m.
“An interim interdict in this instance should, in these instances, be granted in the rarest of cases. Intrusion into the sphere of operation reserved only for the other arms of state is an exercise not to be unreflectingly or over zealously carried out by a court of law‚” Mogoeng said.
According to the judge also, the sum total of Afriforum’s case was the harm it was exposed to by the gradual loss of place or sense of belonging.
“It is divisive‚ somewhat selfish and does not seem to have much regard for the centuries-old deprivation of ‘a sense of place and a sense of belonging’ that black people have had to endure‚” Mogoeng said.
Mogoeng said Afriforum and its constituency did not have any right to have the old street names they treasured displayed in perpetuity.
“The only right Afriforum‚ like all other residents‚ has is to participate meaningfully in a properly facilitated process leading up to the change of street names.
He said old apartheid Era Street Names may still be reinstated if the outcome of the review proceedings be that the public participation process was, for example, … a sham.