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Copyright Dispatch Media (Pty) Ltd, 1998
History of Dispatch

IFP and DA protest renaming in Durban

SHOPPERS fled and shop-owners hurriedly lowered their shutters as thousands of stick-and knobkerrie-wielding protesters ran through Durban’s city centre yesterday to the city hall to object to plans to rename streets after ANC heroes.

While police frantically moved traffic out of their way, the protesters ran down the five-lane Broad Street to Albert Park, upending dustbins. Minor damage was reported but no injuries.

At Albert Park, they joined another 5000 to 6000 mainly IFP members protesting against the renaming of places, mostly street names, by the eThekwini Municipality’s ANC-dominated council.

They then ran through the city centre, down West Street to the city hall.

One protester fired shots into the air, sending other marchers ducking for cover.

SABC reported that police arrested two people after shops were looted at the corner of Grey and Commercial streets.

By early afternoon, about 10000 protesters had converged at the city hall where the IFP and Democratic Party held a joint protest which was addressed by IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango.

“Stop naming our streets after your girlfriends!”, read one poster. “We all have our heroes”, said another.

In a move which has incensed the IFP, council plans to rename the Mangosuthu highway after Griffiths Mxenge, a prominent Durban lawyer assassinated in 1981.

It also plans to rename the city hall Madiba Hall after former president Nelson Mandela and Broad Street after former SA Communist Party chairperson Dr Yusuf Dadoo.

The city advertised the proposed name changes last week, sparking anger at the dominance of ANC-favoured names and even names of unknown people. “Who are these people?”, asked a protester’s placard.

The protesters planned to hand a memorandum of their grievances to eThekwini mayor Obed Mlaba at the city hall. Mlaba did not appear, so the memorandum was handed to a senior policeman instead.

The IFP’s memorandum urged the eThekwini Municipality “to resort to renaming only in exceptional instances in the interests of national reconciliation and healing” and accused the ANC of diverting attention from “the real task of transformation”.

It demanded instead that the city focus on “initiatives that will bring tangible developments to the poorest communities”.

The IFP questioned the choice of names such as Cuban leader Fidel Castro and South American revolutionary Che Guevara, their contributions to KwaZulu-Natal, and “the lack of their democratic credentials”.

It said the municipality “should show respect to the taxpayer” when contemplating “costly and often controversial projects such as renaming of buildings and places”.

Earlier yesterday, name-change protesters barricaded the Mangosuthu highway with dustbins and burning tyres in Umlazi, south of Durban. The barricade protest was cleared by mid-morning. Traffic lights in the area were smashed.

SABC reported that in his weekly Internet letter, the IFP’s leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he knew the removal of his name did not diminish his status or contribution to the country’s liberation struggle. He feared that a new name for the Mangosuthu highway could “reopen the many old wounds in KwaZulu-Natal”. — Sapa

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