New name changes for towns in South Africa

 ·26 Aug 2022

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has announced several new name changes for towns in South Africa.

The changes, which were gazetted on Friday (26 August), primarily impact the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, with towns and villages undergoing a name change.

Several other areas have had new names officially registered in terms of the South African Geographical Names Council Act.

The department has previously said that the transformation of the naming landscape in South Africa is ‘a critical component of the heritage landscape as a whole’.

“There was a need for the name changes as this is part of a government programme to transform South Africa’s heritage landscape. The names of places we live in reflect the identity and cultural heritage of the people of South Africa,” said minister, Nathi Mthetwa.

The full list of name changes is detailed below.

Old name New name Geographical feature and area
Morgan’s Bay Gxarha Coastal Town (Eastern Cape)
Cradock Nxuba Town (Eastern Cape)
Mooiplaas Khwenxurha Amalgamation of villages (Eastern Cape)
Pomercy Solomon Linda Village (KwaZulu Natal)
Komga River Qumrha River River (Eastern Cape)
New Thembalethu Peace Village Village (Eastern Cape)
New Siyathemba Human Settlement (Eastern Cape)
New Happy Valley Human Settlement (Eastern Cape)
New Nomgxeki Township (Eastern Cape)
New Mzomhle Suburb (Eastern Cape)
New Siviwe Suburb (Eastern Cape)
New Mthetheleli Ngumbela Drive Road Segment (Eastern Cape)

In February 2021, Mthethwa announced a number of name changes in the Eastern Cape which he said were for transformation purposes.

Some of the most notable changes included:

  • Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha;
  • Uitenhage to Kariega;
  • King Williamstown to Qonce;
  • East London Airport to  King Phalo Airport;
  • Port Elizabeth Airport to Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport.

Publishing its annual performance plan for 2022/2023 in May, the department said it wanted to accelerate the changing of names in South Africa to address past injustices.

It noted that geographical name changes are provided for under the South African Geographical Names Act of 1998 and overseen by the South African Geographical Names Council.

“The publishing of government gazettes is the last process in the process that starts at local government levels where communities propose the renaming of our villages, towns and cities in order for them to reflect the heritage and languages of the majority of the people of South Africa.

“The pace with which the transformation of the naming landscape is progressing is very slow given the number of names of towns and cities that still reflect South Africa’s colonial and apartheid heritage.”

The department said that it would increase awareness campaigns to assist South Africans and encourage local communities to be actively involved in the process of transforming the naming landscape.

“The public awareness campaigns will assist to minimise legal challenges against the minister’s decisions to change colonial and apartheid names to indigenous names. These campaigns also educate provincial and local authorities on the consultation and other required processes for name changes.”

The department added that name changes are a key transformation feature and are necessary for addressing past injustices.

Read: Government wants faster name changes for towns and roads in South Africa

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