Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
3 minute read
8 Aug 2021
12:22 pm

Brandfort residents divided over ‘Winnie Mandela’ name change

Cheryl Kahla

While some feel that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela deserves the honour, others want to bring attention to the plight of Brandfort residents.

The house where Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was banished and spent almost nine years in Brandfort. Photo: Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Moeletsi Mabe

South Africans are divided over the Free State town of Brandfort’s name change to ‘Winnie Mandela’. The change was announced by Minister Nathi Mthethwa and was gazetted on Friday.

The town’s name was changed in terms of Section 10 (2) of the South African Geographical Names Council Act, 118 of 1998 to honour the legacy of the struggle icon Winnie Mandela.

Brandfort name change

Political parties react

Free State’s Premier Sisi Ntombela vowed to continue where Madikizela-Mandela has left off and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) welcomed the change, saying it was “long overdue”.

“We hope it is not only the electioneering machinery to convince the people of Brandfort to vote [for the ANC]. The people of Brandfort are still suffering, they don’t have toilets, water, houses they are still unemployed”.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said the change was “flawed”, and said the party would lodge a petition to “assist residents who want to comment on the name change to do so within the prescribed period”.

However, the ANC’s Thabo Meeko said the change “satisfied all the requirements of the law”.

Watch: Brandfort residents speak out

Speaking to SABC News, one resident said she doesn’t necessarily mind the name change itself, but she believes “there is a lot of stuff to be done before we can even a consider a name change from Brandfort”.

Another said the government should rather assist the people of Brandfort in other ways. He said people are “sleeping without food, without anything; let the government do something for those people.

Another resident said the name change is a “good idea [because it will] boost the town in terms of tourism”. One resident said due processes weren’t followed:

“My issue is not with the name changing, my issue is also not with the persona of Winnie Mandela. My issue is on the public participation process which according to me was not followed.

“I don’t know if the people of Slovo Park (to the east of Brandfort) who’ve been without services for a decade had the opportunity to speak their mind.”

NOW READ: Free State town renamed ‘Winnie Mandela’ to honour struggle icon

South Africans react

In addition, South Africans have taken to social media and the commentary is divided between those who agree with the name change, and those who oppose it. One netizen said the DA has “no say in the renaming of Brandfort”

“Winnie Mandela deserves the honour. She was a fearless leader (may her soul rest in peace). Each and every town must be renamed. Get rid of the colonists, racists names”.

Another netizen suggested South Africa be renamed too, adding: “Did u guys even built these cities or u just naming the white man’s work”. [sic]