Residents from the Lappies neighbourhood in the Roodepoort CBD attended a public meeting held on 11 January, where their application to change two street names came under discussion.
The councillor for Ward 84, Gert Niemand received the application on the proposed name changes from Imtiaz Cajee. The request is for Mare Street to be changed to Ahmed Timol Street and Harold Street to be changed to Mrs Amina Desai Street.
The meeting was opened by the applicant who read biographies on both Timol and Desai, whereafter the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan, stepped up to the podium. Chohan was born in Harold Street and explained to the residents why the name changes had been suggested. “I am happy to see you took time and effort to attend this meeting, it shows you all feel something for this cause – either against or for it,” she said. She explained that the residents wanted to have these street name changes done to honour and commemorate the lives and contribution Ahmed Timol and Amina Desai made to their history. “We need to embrace our past and learn from it. Our children, and their children, need to be educated so they will never repeat the same mistakes,” an emotional Chohan said.
Niemand explained that they were halfway through the process, and the street names will not be changed overnight. “The application was received in June of last year, and there was a 30-day period in which objections could be logged. The next step was the public participation meeting, and should no fundamental objections be recorded, a report will be sent to council to approve or deny the application,” he said.
He assured the residents that this matter will receive priority from him, as he felt that this would be in the interests of the community. “I, as Ward 84 councillor, am representing the whole community, not just certain parts of it. I assure you of my backing for this application to be approved,” he said.
Niemand said, that if the application is approved by Council, they plan to have the process completed by October this year, to coincide with the anniversary of Timol’s death. He concluded by saying, “We need to honour our past, then only can we own our future.”