Residents challenge Nelspruit's renaming

2013-06-11 14:33

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Johannesburg - Residents in Mpumalanga's capital Nelspruit raised more than R300 000 to challenge the changing of the town's name to Mbombela.

A Sapa correspondent reported on Tuesday that over 20 000 residents and the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (LCBT) would challenge the move in court.

The case against the culture, sport, and recreation department would be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 26 August.

"The decision by LCBT to challenge the name change came after an incredible 23 000 residents signed a petition in protest, giving a clear indication of what the community wanted," LCBT financial manager Linda Grimbeek said.

"This has been a battle for some four years or so. We are very happy that it is eventually going to court."

Nelspruit’s name was officially changed to Mbombela on 16 October 2009.

According to Grimbeek, the name change could cost the Mbombela local municipality R450m.

"The municipality is already in debt, so neither they nor the people can afford such a large sum of money to be spent on something so unnecessary. The public clearly do not want this."

Grimbeek said the outcome of the matter could set a precedent for similar cases elsewhere in the country.

"In this court action we are setting a benchmark, which other towns are watching with keen interest.

Other name changes

There are 52 other towns around the country who may well challenge the name changes if we win this case.

"If a sequence of events of such magnitude were to occur, it would make international news," Grimbeek added.

Mpumalanga culture, sport, and recreation spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said the department, the umbrella body for the provincial geographical names committee, would stand by the name change, unless otherwise obligated.

"As a department we maintain the status quo that Nelspruit is now Mbombela. We will await the outcome of the court case and will thereafter act in accordance with the judgment," Nkosi said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mbombela
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