The newly built community residential units (CRUs) in Langa were officially named Hamilton Naki Square, after the man who made medical history by helping Dr Christiaan Barnard’s team during the first human heart transplant at the Groote Schuur Hospital in 1967.
Despite his limited formal education, he was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cape Town (UCT) for his role in the first heart transplant.
Hamilton Naki was born in 1930. He went from maintaining tennis courts at UCT when he was 14 years old to caring for laboratory animals and later progressed to more advanced laboratory work and learned to do surgery on animals.
Due to apartheid laws though, Naki was not allowed in the operating theatre and his contributions in the laboratory went largely unacknowledged.
He lived in a hostel at the Special Quarters in Langa. He passed away in 2005.
To date, 463 families who were living in the New Flats and Special Quarters hostels and in the Siyahlala informal settlement in Langa have benefitted from a redress programme and moved into their homes in December 2015.
This was part of the City’s plan to develop a total of 1 300 CRUs within Langa over the next three years.
The CRUs were built on the corner of Bhunga Avenue and Ndabeni Street as part of the City’s hostel transformation programme.
‘The city is very pleased to be a part of this exciting process of redress for the community of Langa.
The development of our CRUs has not only provided improved housing opportunities for our residents but it has also paved a way for further redress as the community has been actively involved in identifying suitable names for this project.
‘We really want to thank the community of Langa for their contribution and willingness to work with the City during the naming process.
‘Furthermore, we want to salute the late Hamilton Naki for his relentless determination.
He did not allow his circumstances to deter him from following passion and purpose.
We trust that the name “Hamilton Naki” will remind all of us, especially the community of Langa, of his drive and that we will be inspired by his story to follow our dreams, regardless of the many challenges life brings.” said Councillor Benedicta van Minnen.