Big yes for name change

Shakir Salie with Tiffany-Kim Thompson, holding a replica of the original Hanover Street sign.

The community came out in overwhelming support to rename Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street, according to the results of the public participation process held last month.

The matter will be considered at a sitting of full council today, Thursday August 22, according to ward councillor Dave Bryant.

He said the proposal was also recommended by the mayoral committee.

“It is great to see the positive results of the public participation process and the consequent recommendations to approve the name change.”

The District 6 Working Committee submitted a proposal that the historical name of the current Keizersgracht be restored, in memory of District Six, to Hanover Street.

A public participation process was held from Monday July 1 to Friday July 26, where people across the city could comment on the matter.

The results of the public participation process, which were tabled at the special mayoral committee meeting on Tuesday August 13, indicated that 1 195 people had their say.

Of the 1 195, 1 157 people supported the renaming to Hanover Street, while 38 people raised objections. People who supported the renaming said that it would serve as a gesture of restorative justice and of honouring the legacy and culture of those who were painfully displaced from District Six during apartheid.

The ones who raised objections said renaming streets was a waste of resources, is a meaningless exercise, that displaced persons from District Six first need to return for the name to be restored and that Keizersgracht should remain because of its tourism value.

District Six Museum made a submission indicating their qualified support for the renaming of Keizersgracht to New Hanover Street.

Director of the District Six Museum, Bonita Bennett, previously told the CapeTowner that they, in principle, supported the request by the District Six Working Committee to rename Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street, however, they believe that renaming of streets should be looked at holistically, in line with the redevelopment of the area (“Rename Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street,” CapeTowner, July 25, 2019).

The Observatory Civic Association (OCA), came out in “strong support” of the renaming.

OCA chairperson Tauriq Jenkins, said renaming the street would be part of a process of restorative justice that seeks to affirm the place and memory of a precinct devastated by apartheid’s spatial planning.

However, he also recommended, among other things, that the City apologises for its role in the forced removal of the residents of District Six and the delay it has taken to begin place-making and restoration, and that they commit to renaming all streets and places that follow the example of Hanover Street.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Cape Town campus’s Unit for Applied Law handed the City a petition bearing over 50 signatures to restore the name of Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street.

Advocate Noleen Leach said the injustice perpetrated through the forced removal from areas such as District 6 and elsewhere in the country and the impact on their humanity were well documented, and efforts at restorative justice such as reinstating the name, Hanover Street, can contribute to restoring identity and dignity.

She said CPUT’s Cape Town campus stands as a stark reminder of the subsequent developments by the apartheid government. “The university therefore has an important transformational role to play and its curricula must reflect that.”

The South African Cape Jewish Board of Deputies also supported the renaming.

Director Stuart Diamond said many Jews who fled to South Africa from persecution and pogroms made District Six their home. “They lived in District Six and they shopped in Hanover Street, not in Keizersgracht.

“I have a personal nostalgic attachment to the name Hanover Street. My grandparents and family members had shops in Hanover Street, not in Keizersgracht. My late great-uncle had a store called Waynik’s, it used to stock school uniforms.

“In her book The House in Tyne Street: Childhood Memories of District Six, Linda Fortune, former education officer at the District Six Museum, writes about the shops in Hanover Street, not Keizersgracht.”

Another respondent had also proposed that Keizersgracht rather be renamed New Hanover Street, which may be a more appropriate and ethical approach to remember the old and embrace the new.

The report stated that both Hanover Street and New Hanover Street did not meet the requirements of the street naming and numbering policy, where the duplication of similar names within a 5km radius in the metropole, should be avoided. There is a street named Old Hanover Street in Zonnebloem, which is 335,13 metres away from Keizersgracht, and Hanover Street in Fresnaye, which is about 4km away from Keizersgracht.

The mayoral committee also recommended that if the renaming was approved by council, that the policy be wavered in this instance.

If approved, the change will cost R147 826. It was unclear when the name change will take place.