AfriForum: Pretoria must stay
Pretoria - Civil rights initiative AfriForum is ready to oppose attempts to change the name of Pretoria in court.
"This organisation also intends to launch major protest actions before, during and after the World Cup soccer tournament if the name were to be changed," chief executive officer, Kallie Kriel said in a statement on Wednesday.
AfriForum was responding to a report in Beeld, according to which the ANC was in urgent talks with Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana to "get rid of" the name of Pretoria before the World Cup.
Kriel said the process followed to have Pretoria's name changed, did not comply with the legal requirements for public participation.
"The courts have already ruled on the same grounds that Louis Trichardt's name change process is invalid and AfriForum will ensure that the same will happen to any effort to change the name of Pretoria," he said.
He said the fact that in November 2009, approximately 30 000 people attended a gathering organised by AfriForum to muster support for the retention of Pretoria's name, proved people felt strongly about keeping it.
Many felt emotionally and culturally bound to the name and regarded efforts to change it as an act of "cultural aggression".
"A country characterised by sensitive intergroup relationships, as is the case in South Africa, cannot afford the polarisation caused by the Pretoria dispute, not now, neither during the World Cup, nor thereafter," Kriel said.