Grahamstown has officially changed its name to Makhanda, it was announced by arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesperson Asanda Magaqa on Tuesday.
The renaming of the university city was given the thumbs-up after only 332 objections received.
“Mthethwa now wishes to advise members of the press that following this thorough, assiduous and painstaking process he has found no just cause to withdraw the notice published in the Government Gazette on 29 June 2018 and as such the proclamation, as published in the Government Gazette in question stands,” Magaqa said.
When Mthethwa made the renaming announcement, there was an uproar from civil society, with the Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown (KGG) campaign leading the charge.
At the time, KGG pointed out that Mthethwa was by law required to consider objections before making the final decision.
Reacting to Tuesday’s announcement, KGG spokesperson Jock McConnachie said they would challenge the decision in court.
He said they were anticipating the rejection of their objections and would challenge the name change in court, referring to it as a botched process.
“The department says that it received 332 objections and we would like to know what happened to many other thousands of objections.
“It has been a completely botched process from the beginning. It has always been a predetermined decision. It will have to go to court and it will be overturned in court,” he said.
However, Magaqa said the name of British commander Colonel John Graham, whom the town was named after, “is one that evokes unimaginable pain to the vast majority of South Africans. What South Africans ought to know is that the name change of the town to Makhanda is the fulfilling of the prophecy of “Ukubuya kuka Nxele (the return of Nxele)”.
She said that renaming the city would ensure that Makhanda ka Nxele’s memory was immortalised.