Pretoria to remain for now

2010-03-25 22:03

Pretoria - An interim order prohibiting the City of Tshwane from replacing the name Pretoria with Tshwane on road signs will remain in force until talks about it are held.

Acting Judge Mahomed Ismail on Thursday granted an indefinite postponement of the FF Plus and AfriForum's application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to stop the name change, but granted a cost order against them.

Although counsel for the applicants in legal argument referred to a letter by the municipality's lawyers stating the city would seek the discharge of the interim court order, lawyers for the city did not argue this point.

An interim order, stopping the name change, was granted in August 2007.

The municipality's lawyer, Vincent Maleka SC, submitted that the effect of the interim order was to tie the city's hands on matters within its sphere of government.

He in effect argued that the president could not tell city councils what to do and that political pronouncements about the name change were therefore irrelevant.

Social cohesion

Although the city did not oppose a postponement, Maleka argued that legal argument in the main application should continue, as the applicants could not seek a postponement on the basis of a speech in Parliament.

The applicants' lawyer, Quintus Pelser, referred to a statement by President Jacob Zuma in which he said further talks with all parties would have to take place and that Pretoria's name change should not be rushed.

"The applicants did not abort the main application. We are suggesting that the way this should be dealt with is by means of a postponement in the public interest in order to attempt to achieve social cohesion."

In October last year the court declared the interim order did not include advertisement and road signage for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Pelser stressed the applicants were alert to the sensitivity of the name change and felt it was preferable to negotiate a settlement, rather than have a court decide the issue.

He submitted it was "inappropriate" for the municipality to attempt to "get a free hand to do what it pleases" at this late stage, if that very subject was being discussed on a national level.

Meddling with signs

"We do not object to billboards to inform visitors they're entering the jurisdiction of the first respondent (City of Tshwane).

"But we do object to meddling with route and road signs. Those are not regulated on the level of the local government sphere.

It has an impact beyond the borders of South Africa."

Pelser said it appeared the National Roads Agency, which had spent vast amounts of money on new road signs, was satisfied with the present state of affairs, but that the City of Tshwane had patently been "out of step" with national government for the past three years.