Over 85 South African towns renamed, more to come

Posted on 17 April 2024 By Savanna Douglas

Since 1998, – when the South African Geographical Names Council Act saw the establishment of the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) – a total of 1,505 geographical names have been changed across South Africa, with more to come.

The South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) is responsible for standardising geographical names in the country, to redress and reform the geographical naming system in South Africa.

As per a recent article published by BusinessTech, a total of 1,505 geographical names have been changed across South Africa since the council’s inception in 1998.

These changes span a variety of geographical features including towns, rivers, mountains, and more.

In total, 85 of the 1,505 name changes were made to towns, with significant activity in provinces such as Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo.

The Eastern Cape’s towns and cities have seen the highest number of name changes, aside from Kwa-Zulu Natal’s new geographical names, as per the report.

Some of the key name changes across the nation since the ’90s have included the renaming of Port Elizabeth to Gqeberha, Uitenhage to Kariega, and Grahamstown to Makhanda.

Recently, the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee (ECPGNC) has proposed additional changes, such as renaming Graaff-Reinet to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe and Aberdeen to Camdeboo. These proposals are currently undergoing public consultation and review.

In March, a further list of name changes were gazetted before the financial year-end. These include the KZN’s Ladysmith to uMnambithi and Kirkwood in the Eastern Cape to Nqweba.



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