Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, approved the renaming of Zonnebloem back to District Six on Tuesday, December 17. The approval has been published in the Government Gazette.

The District Six Museum had applied for the renaming of the suburb earlier this year. In September, the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs presented an application to the Mthethwa in support of the Disctrict Six Museum’s initiative.

Historically, the area was a working class suburb, home to a community of over 50 thousand, predominantly coloured people. In 1966, District Six was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act. The previous residents were forced out.

In a statement on Wednesday, December 18, Mthethwa said, “In democratic South Africa, it has been standard practice to change names which are not in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The renaming process obtains its compass from the participatory democracy that defines the government of the ‘will of the people’ that characterises that of South Africa.”

Keizersgracht was renamed Hanover Street in September of this year. This was the hub for commerce in District Six, prior to the forced removals.

“The renaming, or rather, the restoring of the name of District Six will not only right a historical wrong, but restore the stolen pride of our people whose ancestors and predecessors had their lives, hopes, memories and dreams destroyed along with their homes and their history erased,” Mthethwa said.

Any person wanting to object to the gazetted name change has the right to do so within the next 60 days. According to Mthethwa, an objection must be submitted in writing, to him, noting the (valid) reasons for the objection. He is constitutionally compelled to consider the submissons.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, has submitted a plan on the redevelopment of District Six to the Land Claims court. The plan was submitted for claims made between 1994 and 1998.

The plan includes a layout for the redevelopment, how it will be funded, and the timeframes for implementation. It also includes how the allocation of residential units will be carried out. Claimants are hopeful about the progress being made.

Image: Facebook/District Six

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