/ 20 October 2008

Will Pretoria have a Fidel Castro Street?

Pretorius Street, one of the main roads cutting through Pretoria, should be renamed after former Cuban president Fidel Castro, the South African Communist Party (SACP) said on Monday.

Speaking at a public hearing at Pretoria’s City Hall, SACP member Joan Muller also said Schoeman Street should be renamed after Cuban revolutionary Ernesto ”Che” Guevara.

”We must not forget our Cuban allies,” she told a small gathering of people who arrived at the hearing on the changing of 27 street names in the city.

Other names put forward by the SACP included human rights lawyer Duma Nokwe.

In a statement, AfriForum said the small gathering signified the minimal support for name changes.

”According to AfriForum, it is clear that the efforts to change street names of particular cultural historical significance are incited by the ideological obsession of politicians, rather than by a genuine desire on the part of communities,” said CEO Kallie Kriel.

At other public hearings he had attended, which were mostly in Afrikaans suburbs, large numbers of people were vehemently opposed to the name changes. There had only been marginal interest in other areas.

”Also in areas where little interest had been shown, at least half of the people present were strongly opposed to the changing of street names as well.”

Kriel said it had also been suggested that the money to be used to change the names should rather be spent on education and that history would not be changed by renaming the streets.

”People also expressed opposition to the process followed, as communities feel that they are being involved in the process as an afterthought only,” he said.

Tshwane council speaker Khorombi Dau said it had been difficult to find the right times to have the public hearings and that this was possibly the reason for the small turnout.

”When is the correct time?” he asked, adding that people were not willing to attend hearings in the evening after work.

Dau said it was important for people to hand in their submissions and ”not just talk”, and that it was not a ”done deal” that the names would be changed. The submissions would be recorded and a report given to the council by the public street naming committee.

”We don’t want to put pressure on the committee. It might not be a year, it might not be six months,” he said when asked how long the process could take. ”But my wish is that it should not drag out too long.”

The deadline for submissions is October 31. Venues and dates of the public hearings are available on the city’s website.

The fax number is 012 359 0000; or send email to [email protected]. Forms can also be collected at public libraries, clinics and municipal centres. — Sapa