The Western Cape’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) has called for public comments on a number of potential name changes it is looking at implementing throughout the province.
The audit aims to identify all offensive names as part of the ongoing process to develop a common national identity, social cohesion and inclusivity within the province, the DCAS said in a statement on Thursday.
“In commemoration of the dawn of democracy, and as we celebrate Tata Madiba’s centenary, Minister Anroux Marais, calls for an audit of all offensive names in the Western Cape. The audit aims to identify all offensive names as part of the ongoing process to develop a common national identity, social cohesion and inclusivity within the province,” it said.
“Proposed name changes of the identified names will be processed in accordance with the Western Cape policy for the Naming and Renaming of Geographical Features of 2015 and the South African Geographical Names Council Act of 1998,” it said.
According to the documentation, name changes will be considered for all “geographical places” – including mountains, dams, bridges, rivers, and streets. Submissions of offensive names must reach DCAS by 31 March 2018 on the prescribed audit form or by completing the online audit form.
According to a 2010 Mail and Guardian report, over 850 official name changes took place in South Africa from 1996 to 2010 alone.
The changes have primarily focused on streets, roads, and government buildings – however government has also proposed a number of much larger changes including the renaming of OR Tambo International airport in 2006 as well as reported proposals to rename South Africa itself in June 2017.
While name changes have remained a prerogative of the national Department of Arts and Culture, it has also been met with criticism due to the high costs involved in affecting the name changes.
Notably in 2016 the Constitutional Court set aside an interim High Court order that would have forced the City of Tshwane to return the old street names alongside the new ones.
As part of the dispute it was alleged that the city had spent R98 million on over 25 street name changes.