Petitions against the name change of the town Louis Trichardt to Makhado were launched after the Minister of Arts and Culture had published the name change in the Government Gazette of October 14.
As a reason for changing the name to Makhado, Minister Paul Mashatile said: “A request had been received from the Makhado Municipality to change the name and all necessary processes had been followed in terms of the South African Geographical names Council.”
Those signing the petition confirmed that they had not been reasonably consulted in a bona fide manner and that a proper and fair administrative process had not been followed. They also confirmed that changing the name of the town would affect the region adversely and that the money could be better spent for proper service delivery and the empowerment of poor people.
Petitions circulated for about two weeks and had to be handed in to the Chairpersons Association (CA) by November 4. The CA won the appeal court case when the name of the town was changed to Makhado the first time round and the name change had to be set aside.
A total of 6 462 signatories signed the petition. That is about 1 500 more signatures than the first time round.
“The Hlanganani Concerned group handed in 3 294 signatories, if I am not mistaken. We found the time restriction of two weeks difficult. If it were not for that, we could nearly have doubled that,” said the group’s spokesperson, Mr Jeffrey Gohell.
Mr André Naudé, chairperson of the CA, explained that 5 021 signatories are from the region and 1 441 from other regions.
“This is a matter in the interest of the nation, not only the region. Nowhere in the country should cultural groups be polarised nor cultural goods be destroyed,” Naudé said. He expressed the same sentiment as Gohell that the time restriction prevented them from getting many more signatures.
The time restriction was due to the fact that any objection to the name change had to be made within 30 days of the publication of the name in the Gazette. The CA wanted to add the petition lists to the objection.
“We are not happy about the whole name-change process. We say that the municipality has actually sent a wrong report to the minister, who believes them. We regard it as one-sided information from the side of the municipality that did not consult all the people. People are not against change, but change should not be brought about through ‘kangaroo consultation’ where people are hoodwinked that the government wants the name to be changed. A name change should come from the people themselves, and not the municipality forcing the people to change the name,” Gohell said.