Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has approved the name change for the Free State town of Brandfort to Winnie Mandela.

The name change was Gazetted on Friday in terms of Section 10(2) of the South African Geographical Names Council Act (Act No 118 0f 1998).  

The late struggle icon Winnie Mandela was banished to Brandfort in 1977 by the apartheid regime.

  She died in 2018 at the age of 81. Since then talks began to rename the town after her to honour her legacy.  

The latest development comes as the country approaches Women’s Day this coming Monday under the theme of “The Year of Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke: Realising Women’s Rights.” 

The Democratic Alliance in Free State says it intends to oppose what it calls the flawed name change process of the town of Brandfort to Winnie Mandela. The official opposition says the correct protocol for the name change was not followed.  

The DA’s Masilonyana Municipality Councillor Mariet Visser says the municipality cannot afford the name change.

“Public participation and other processes were not followed. Financial implications were not budgeted for. Masilonyana can hardly afford additional non-essential expenditures. The local government needs to realise that communities have a right to decide on matters in their own towns.

“The DA will lodge a petition to assist residents who want to comment on the name change to do so within the prescribed period in terms of the South African geographical names council. Written questions will also be written to the minister to establish what processes if any was followed during the processes,” Visser adds.