No ruling on Mbombela name change

2013-11-17 18:02
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Mbombela - It is not clear when the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria will decide whether Mpumalanga's capital city keeps its name or change it from Mbombela back to Nelspruit.

Lawyers for the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT) Coalition concluded their two-day presentations in the High Court last week.

“Whatever the outcome, we will accept it because it was a fair hearing. The judge did a good job of hearing all the arguments and submissions between both the state advocates and our advocates,” said KLCBT financial manager Linda Grimbeek.

This was after the court decided to withhold its decision until further notice.

Nelspruit's name was officially changed to Mbombela on 16 October 2009, when former minister of arts and culture Lulu Xingwana gazetted it.

KLCBT and its partners immediately filed an application at the North Gauteng High Court to set aside the proclamation on the grounds of a "flawed" name change process. They argued that the consultation process, as required by law, had been unfair.

Grimbeek said the legal costs will set back KLCBT R758 000. KLCBT has already raised R528 000 through donations from community members and local businesses. She said they have already paid their advocates the R528 000 and hope to raise the outstanding R200 000 through a golf day early next year.

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

Authorities at the provincial department of culture, sport and recreation, which is the umbrella body for the Provincial Geographical Names Committee, are also awaiting the outcome.

849 names changed

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

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

According to Grimbeek, the Mbombela local municipality is already too indebted and probably won't be in a position to raise the R450m needed to change street names, websites, among other features.

KLCBT claimed that, as the municipality would have to carry almost half of the estimated total costs for the name change, rates were expected to be increased for taxpayers.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  name changes

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