Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)
No name change for Pretoria
PRETORIA is to keep its name and its famous statue of “Oom” Paul Kruger on Church Square.
But, over time the name Tshwane is expected to gain ground and Kruger will be joined on the square by other controversial figures such as Kgosi Mampuru II, after whom the nearby prison is named.
The chairperson of the South African Geographic Names Council, Johnny Mohlala, told Independent Media this week the brass statue of Kruger and his burghers would stay as part of the redevelopment of Church Square.
He was speaking at an event at Freedom Park at which Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa gave feedback on the ministerial task team’s investigation into transformation of the country’s heritage landscape.
The report-back is a result of a national consultative meeting that was convened by the minister in 2015 following attacks on statues that were sparked by #RhodesMustFall protests ignited by University of Cape Town students.
At around that time the Kruger statue was fenced off when it came under threat, but the idea is to take down the fence in due course.
The meeting resulted in 21 resolutions which were studied by a task team and then discussed with targeted stakeholders. Later the minister will take the report to the cabinet to “find common ground on how the transformation of the heritage landscape should be treated”.
The area is being redesigned with paving, seating and trees, and space for other statues and art works.
Mthethwa said monuments were not “innocent” pieces of work, but embodied strong symbolic power that honoured the past.