Mbombela name change challenge stalled

2013-08-26 22:02

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Johannesburg - A bid to challenge Minister Lulu Xingwana's nod for Nelspruit to be renamed Mbombela was delayed on Monday.

The matter was not heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria because of a scheduling error.

"It was a scheduling issue that was totally out of our control, none of the parties [in the case] were involved," said Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (LCBT) financial manager Linda Grimbeek.

"It's so frustrating and disappointing. The case took two years to get to the high court. We were hoping to have this whole thing done. Our advocate has applied for a new date."

The decision to take the matter to court was made in June.

The court has the power to change Xingwana's decision was made while she was the minister of arts and culture.

Her decision was taken in 2009 and was published in a government gazette that year.

"Only a high court can change something that was gazetted," Grimbeek said.

A Sapa correspondent reported that the LCBT, which was opposed to the name change, had managed to raise R450 000 to take the matter to court.

They needed R50 000 more.

"We are awaiting pledges... which should be sufficient to cover the full amount. Raising the extra money is not an issue," she said.

Name change

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

"Even though the name change was approved, the implementation process has not yet been started because of the confusing proclamation of whether the city must be called Mbombela City or Mbombela," Grimbeek said.

"Then there are the legal proceedings that we have undertaken. All of these have blocked the process of implementing the name change."

Grimbeek said the Mbombela local municipality was already too indebted and probably could not raise the R450m needed to change street names, and websites, among other features.

National department of arts and culture spokesperson Mack Lewele said the matter would be dealt with in court.

The provincial culture, sport and recreation department, the umbrella body for the Provincial Geographical Names Committee, said it would await the court's judgment.

"We will await the outcome of the court case and will thereafter act in accordance with the judgment," said department spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi.

According to the SA Geographical Names Council and the department of arts and culture, more than 849 place names were changed in South Africa between 1996 and 2010.

Read more on:    lulu xingwana  |  mbombela  |  name changes

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