Lawyers for Makhanda resident Sigudla Ndumo will Wednesday 5 February apply to appeal last year’s High Court ruling that the change of the town’s name from Grahamstown to Makhanda was legitimate. In December 2019 Judge Murray Lowe rejected the Keep Grahamstown Grahamstown (KGG) application to have set aside Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s decision to change the city’s name to Makhanda.
On 13 January, Brin Brody of Wheeldon Rushmere and Cole, representing Ndumo, filed a notice of application for leave to appeal. This was granted and the application is set down for 5 February 2020 in the Grahamstown High Court. Advocates Izak Smuts and Gavin Brown will argue the application for Ndumo. As before, the respondents are the Minister of Arts and Culture (nomine officio, not personally), the South African Geographical Names Council and Makana Municipality. They are represented by Grant Barrow of Whitesides Attorneys.
Grounds given for the application include that while the Judge had held that the merits of the issue were not being argued, he had gone on to say that the decision occurred “in the context of the painful colonial military background to the naming… of the town originally” and had accepted the Minister’s contention that the new name “replaced a name which epitomizes brutal colonial subjugation with one that epitomizes redress and restoration of human dignity”. This showed that the Judge was, in fact, considering the merits of the issue, the papers argue.
Other points include reference to a previous judgment overturning a name change, inadequate consultation, that previous processes had favoured the name, iRhini rather than Makhanda, confusion and lack of standardisation between the name changes of the municipality (Makana) and the town respectively.
Grocott’s Mail will continue to report.
* Note: Article changed to indicate that this is not the appeal, but the application for leave to appeal. Grocott’s Mail regrets the error.