The names of too many South African towns‚ streets and important institutions still celebrate one-sidedness and resonate with the legacy of our oppressive past‚ Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Thursday.
“Very little recognition or honour is given to their heritage‚ history‚ heroes and heroines in their own motherland‚” he said in a judgment setting aside an interim order of 2013 passed by Pretoria High Court judge Bill Prinsloo.
In that judgment‚ Prinsloo had restrained the municipality from removing street and road signs bearing the old names of 25 streets in Pretoria.
The order by Prinsloo had also ordered the city to reinstate any of the old street names which had already been removed within two months.
The city had changed the street names linked to colonial and apartheid legacy such as Hendrik Verwoerd and Louis Botha and replaced them with names of people like former president Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko in 2012 following a public consultation.
The city failed in its bid to have Prinsloo’s interim order set aside by the full bench of the high court and also by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
However‚ the Constitutional Court found in favour of the city on Thursday.
In the majority judgment‚ Mogoeng said the effects of the system of racial‚ ethnic and tribal stratification of the past must be destroyed and buried permanently.
“That would be achieved partly by removing from our cities‚ towns‚ ‘dorpies’‚ streets‚ parks‚ game reserves and institutions‚ names that exalt elements of our past that cause grief to other racial groups or reopen their supposedly healing wounds.”
The majority found that the interim order of Prinsloo was appealable. It also found that the order should not have been granted in the first place.
Mogoeng said Afriforum had failed to show that irreparable harm would ensue should the interim order not be granted.
Mogoeng said the reinstatement of the old street names could still be ordered by the review court should it decide in favour of Afriforum.
In a dissenting judgment‚ justices Johan Froneman and Edwin Cameron said the municipality suffered no irreparable harm by the granting of the interim order.
They also said it was not in the interests of justice to allow a dispute about a temporary order to drag on for more than three years‚ with the main review still undecided.
— TMG Digital