Potchefstroom name-change decision expected

Potchefstroom’s city council is to make an announcement on the city’s name on Wednesday.

In a media invitation, the city council said the mayor, Maphetle Maphetle, will make an announcement “about the decision that has been taken in relation to the name change of Potchefstroom”.

Maphetle’s spokesperson Kaizer Mohau would not reveal any details, saying the announcement will be made on Wednesday.

Changing the name of the city—situated 117km north-west of Johannesburg on the Mooi River, in North West province—was mooted in July last year when the council announced it wanted to call it Tlokwe. The name is derived from the Batlhokwa people who settled in the area.

The city’s current name is derived from Voortrekker leader Hendrik Pot(gieter), chef (the leader, referring to Potgieter) and stroom (the nearby Mooi River), according to a business and tourism website for the city.

The announcement last year led to protest action, including marches and protest letters from several opposition parties, civil society groups and the Potchefstroom campus of North West University.

In March this year, the civil society group Action Potchefstroom took the matter to the Mafikeng High Court, asking for an urgent ruling that the city’s name could not be changed since there was not sufficient public participation for such a decision to be made.

The court ruled that the matter was not urgent and a date for the hearing is yet to be determined.

Bertus le Roux, spokesperson for Action Potchefstroom, said that if the city council is indeed planning to announce it is changing the town’s name, the group will return to court. “This announcement would be premature as there has yet to be a sufficient public participation process,” he said.

The announcement is scheduled for 11am on Wednesday in the city-council boardroom.—Sapa

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