Cape Town – More name changes for District Six are on the cards as the struggle for restitution continues.
The District Six Working Committee has penned an open letter to the City to officially change the name of Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street.
“Hanover Street was the lifeblood and soul of the area (that) the street residents became familiar with. I grew up in Hanover Street and I was always so offended when they decided to rename the street,” said committee chairperson Shahied Ajam.
“This renaming will mark the start of the healing process for the people of District Six. With the judgement of the court case coming up, we need to start healing.”
The committee is locked in a battle with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for its failure to provide restitution to District Six claimants since 1998.
Under the apartheid government, Hanover Street was renamed Keizersgracht Street after the area was declared whites-only and the previous residents forcibly removed. During the decade of forced removal, the street grid was reconfigured, and road names were changed. The district was reclassified as Zonnebloem. The District Six Museum last week launched a campaign calling for the renaming of Zonnebloem back to District Six.
The committee sent a letter to Mayor Dan Plato and Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt.
“On behalf of all the dispossessed people of D6, including the black Africans who lived in Chapel Street, De Villiers Lane, Maude Lane, Chapel Lane, Roger Terrace, Cross Street, Winter Gardens and Buckingham Palace, unapologetically request that the Hanover Street name be reinstated We the dispossessed people enthusiastically anticipate our return to the land of our fathers and our community without genuflecting to anybody for favours,” the letter read.
Plato said the City had received a letter. “I think it is important that our communities are proud of where they stay and that they feel part of and have a connection with their local suburb, and the greater Cape Town.
“Appropriate names for streets, sites and areas are one such way that a community can positively identify with their living environment and the beautiful city that we live in.
“It is also an important instrument to celebrate those who have contributed to our democracy and our society, and to commemorate those who we hold dear,” he said.