Bloem airport officially renamed

2012-12-13 00:30

Bloemfontein - President Jacob Zuma officially renamed the Bloemfontein International Airport to the Bram Fischer International Airport on Thursday ahead of unveiling a new Nelson Mandela statue in Bloemfontein.

Mangaung metro executive mayor Thabo Manyoni welcomed the president to Mangaung. He also welcomed the Fischer family and acknowledged the role played by Bram Fischer as a "Giant of Africa".

According to Travel with Flair, the renaming process started in December 2011 with public consultations and hearings conducted at Bloemfontein's City Hall, where the name of struggle veteran Bram Fischer was endorsed. On 29 August, the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) recommended the proposed name of Bram Fischer International Airport to the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile for approval, which was granted on 2 November.

The name was officially instated on Thursday.

The renaming process did however hit a bit of a rough patch as the authorities not only forgot to add an "international" tag, but "relocated" the airport in the initial notice of name change, the Star reported.

It was officially renamed Bram Fischer Airport, and was identified as "an airport in Motheo District Municipality in the Free State" on 26 October.

About a week later, it was renamed the Bram Fischer International Airport and was remapped as "an airport in Mangaung Municipality in the Free State".

Who was Bram Fischer...

Abram Louis Fischer, Bram as he was commonly known, was an important figure in the apartheid struggle. As a lawyer, he served as legal defence for a number of struggle heroes, including Nelson Mandela.

He was born on 23 April 1908 to a prominent Afrikaner family. His father, Percy Fischer was a Judge President of the Orange Free State, while his grandfather, Abraham Fischer, was prime minister of the Orange River Colony and later became a member of Cabinet. 

After completing a law degree at Grey University College in Bloemfontein (now the University of the Free State), he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to further his studies at Oxford University in England in the 1930s. During his time there, he travelled widely and in a letter to his parents, noted similarities between the position of Russian farmers that he encountered along the Volga river and South African blacks.

On his return home in the 1940s, Fischer joined the South African Communist Party (SACP), soon rose to a leadership position and faced grave consequences for his anti-government stance. He was charged with incitement arising out of his position as a leader of the SACP for the first time in 1946. Following his key defence position in both the Treason Trial (1956 - 1961) and the Rivonia Trial (1963 - 1964), he was again arrested on 23 September 1964 and joined the 12 white men and women facing charges of being members of the now illegal South African Communist Party. 

Instead of going into exile, he went underground to support the liberation struggle and was struck off the advocate's roll in 1965 in a trial completed in his absence.

He was arrested in November 1965 after 290 days underground, and put on trial in March 1966 on charges of furthering the aims of communism and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was imprisoned in Pretoria Prison. 

During his incarceration, he contracted cancer. When news of his illness was publicised, the public lobbied government for his release. Fischer was placed under house arrest at his brother's home in Bloemfontein in April 1975. He died a few weeks later.


Fischer was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967.

In 2003 Fischer became the first South African ever to be posthumously reinstated to the Bar.

In 2004, despite opposition from alumni and management, Fischer was awarded a posthumous honorary degree by Stellenbosch University.

New College (University of Oxford), where Fischer was a student, holds an annual Bram Fischer Memorial Lecture to honour his legacy.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  aviation  |  name changes  |  flights  |  travel south africa

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