Students in call to name street after Mthokozisi Ntumba
'We have officially renamed the street ... We will be going to the municipality as a formality'
The City of Johannesburg says it will not express any view on whether the municipality would support the renaming of De Beer Street in Braamfontein after the late Mthokozisi Ntumba.
Ntumba, 35, was killed on De Beer Street last week when the police allegedly shot him three times from close range with rubber bullets while dispersing protesting Wits University students in Braamfontein.
Several students activists have since called for the street on which Ntumba died to be named after him. The students staged a mock renaming of the street by blanking out “De Beer” on a street pole and replacing it with Ntumba’s name, SowetanLIVE reported.
Mayoral spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase said there is a process around the renaming of streets. He declined to express a view on whether the municipality would support the students’ call.
“The proposal to change a street should be submitted to council. Then there is a public consultation where everyone is given an opportunity to give their input on the matter. The matter will be brought back to council to finalise,” said Ndamase.
He said for the proposal to pass, 51% of council members would need to vote for it.
Wits University EFF Students Command (EFFSC) said the decision by students to rename De Beer Street would ensure Ntumba’s memory lives on.
Student activist Mmeli Gebashe, who took part in the mock renaming of the street, told Sowetan the renaming was a way to recognise Ntumba as a fellow student.
“The renaming of this street is a symbol of black youth radicalism and a remembrance of resilience. Ntumba is a name we have a shared experience with. We do not know De Beer. De Beer is an oppressor,” said Gebashe.
“We have officially renamed the street. From now on we all know the street as Ntumba Street. We will go to the municipality to finalise this. But we have already taken matters into our hands and renamed it. We will be going to the municipality as a formality.”
Gebashe said Ntumba was a master's graduate and his experience would have been similar to the students who are protesting about university fees.
Ntumba’s family said they would support anything done to honour his life.