Hoërskool Verwoerd renamed Rietondale

Hoërskool Hendrik Verwoerd School in Pretoria has been renamed Rietondale Secondary. The renaming was met with mixed reactions.
Hoërskool Hendrik Verwoerd School in Pretoria has been renamed Rietondale Secondary. The renaming was met with mixed reactions.

The renaming of schools with colonial and apartheid-era names is in full swing in Gauteng.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi announced this yesterday as he celebrated the renaming of Hoërskool Hendrik Verwoerd. The school, in the north of Pretoria, will now be known as Rietondale Secondary School.

"My mission in this world is to reverse everything this man called Verwoerd has done to our education system. Other names like Jan Smuts will also follow," Lesufi said.

The school began the process to change its name in 2016 after the formalised process of the Gauteng department of education's circular 6 and 7 of 2016.

According to the documents from the department, the new name Rietondale was chosen by parents and they appreciated the department's willingness to transform the society and making the school a centre for the community.

Rietondale community members have welcomed the renaming of Hoërskool Hendrik Verwoerd after it was announced that parents had voted for its name to be changed.

The school has existed for 82 years.

Johannes Snyman, 44, who has been a resident in the Rietondale for 17 years, told Sowetan the name change came at a time when healing in SA was needed the most.

"We see a lot of racial incidents on social media and on the news. The country can't move forward if we continue to fight each other because of skin colour. This school's name is an unfair reminder to the majority of people in this country," Snyman said.

Lesego Mathebula, 24, another resident, said the name change was long overdue.

"Imagine after 25 years of democracy you're reminded about apartheid because you drive past a school named after the person who created it, it's ridiculous. This should have been one of the first things that was done when this country became a democracy," Mathebula said.

Maryke van der Westhuizen, 28, said she was not pleased with the name change as this was a mechanism to erase the Afrikaner history.

"What the government is doing is not right. It cannot change names of places because it's those names that mean something to people. But if the majority supports this idea then it's fine. But personally, I don't see the need."

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