Three weeks after the Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, announced his final decision on the renaming of Grahamstown, the Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown campaign, which submitted the most comprehensive objection on behalf of thousands of objectors collectively and individually, had not yet received a response to its objection.
In a statement this week, Joint Co-ordinators Sigudla Ndumo and Jock McConnachie said Section 10 of Act 118 of 1998 required that the Minister must consider objections submitted within 30 days publication of the Notice announcing the proposed name change as gazetted on 29 June 2018 and must accept or reject the objections with reasons.
“To date the KGG is only aware of a handful of objectors – fewer than 10 – who have received responses to their objections,” the KGG said. “The letter from the Minister explaining his decision refers to reasons “elaborately explained” in a letter from the South African Geographic Names Council (SAGNC) to which objections were referred without providing a copy of the SAGNC’s letter.
“The KGG has obtained a copy of the SAGNC’s letter which does not contain any elaborate explanation. All that the letter states is that the objections are the same as those considered and rejected by the SAGNC previously.
The reasons as supplied by the Minister therefore amounts to a blanket rejection of all objections which does not comply with his legal obligations in terms of Section 10 of Act 118 of 1998.”
Sigudla and McConnachie said some objectors were receiving email notifications that their objections had been deleted and not read; others were receiving acknowledgements of receipt dated after the Minister
announced his final decision.
“The majority of objectors, as in the case of the KGG, have received no acknowledgement or response to their objections.”
The KGG said they had written to the office of the Minister requesting that he respond to the KGG’s objection as a matter of urgency.
“The KGG’s letter also advised the Minister that his reasons are required for the purposes of a court application to declare the name change of Grahamstown unlawful,” they said. “The KGG has previously warned the Minister than if a court application proved necessary it would seek a personal costs order against those responsible, including the Minister himself, for their reckless conduct of the matter. Attorneys and an advocate have already been instructed in the matter and are in the process of preparing the application.
“Grahamstown is still Grahamstown until a court of law declares it otherwise,” the KGG said.