List of renamed places in South Africa

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Since 1994, there have been a large number of places in South Africa which have been renamed for political, ethnic, or even economic reasons. These name changes were at first to remove politically motivated, incorrectly spelt or offensive names (such as those named after apartheid leaders) from the South African landscape. However, since 2000 these name changes have targeted places of mostly Afrikaans but also English-speaking origin, with many places now named after anti-apartheid activists. The following article covers the name changes in South Africa by province since the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

A number of places in South Africa had been renamed before 1994. These name changes were much rarer and occurred over long periods of time.

Eastern Cape[edit]

Eastern Cape in South Africa.svg

As of March 2014, the Eastern Cape has changed the name of 134 places, placing it third nationally after Mpumalanga and the Limpopo provinces.[1] Most name changes have been correcting misspellings in the former homelands of Transkei and Ciskei (see below). There have also been a number of name change proposals in the western half of the province for places of Afrikaans or English origin.


  • Bisho → Bhisho (2004; former capital of Ciskei)[2]
  • Cala → Kala (2004)
  • Engcobo → Ngcobo (2004)
  • Idutywa → Dutywa (2004)
  • Umtata → Mthatha (2004; former capital of Transkei)
  • Grahamstown → Makhanda (2018; name to be officially changed soon)


Free State[edit]

Free State in South Africa.svg

The Free State has only experienced minor name changes. A number of settlements have been slated for renaming but none have thus far gone ahead. Bloemfontein, the provincial capital, is planned to be renamed Mangaung after the township it borders and the municipality it lies in.

The province recently renamed its only international airport in Bloemfontein after anti-apartheid activist Bram Fischer. The airport's name had to be changed twice after the first renaming forgot to add international to the name.


Gauteng in South Africa.svg

Gauteng, South Africa's most urbanised province, has seen a number of name changes. Probably the most controversial name change in South African history has been that of Pretoria, where there have been proposals to change the city's name to Tshwane (already the name of the metropolitan area it lies in).


  • VerwoerdburgCenturion (1994)
    • The first name change in post-1994 South Africa. Verwoerdburg was named after Hendrik Verwoerd, the so-called "architect of Apartheid" and was deemed offensive to many people and was changed to the neutral name of Centurion.
  • Sophiatown → Triomf (1954) → Sophiatown (2006)
    • In 2006 the suburb of Triomf had its name restored to Sophiatown. Before 1954 the area (then named Sophiatown) was mostly occupied by blacks but were forcibly moved due to it being near local white suburbs. The area was rezoned as Triomf (Afrikaans for "Triumph") with the former name restored 52 years later.



In 2007 the Johannesburg Development Agency changed two streetnames named after Apartheid era ministers:[3]

In 2014 the city administration continued the renaming of important streets in the city in order to "celebrate the city's shared past".[4]

  • Sauer Street → Pixley ka Isaka Seme Street
  • Bree Street → Lilian Ngoyi Street
  • Jeppe Street → Rahima Moosa Street
  • Presidents Street → Helen Joseph Street
  • Noord Street → Sophie de Bruyn Street


In early 2012, 27 streets in central Pretoria had their name changed to reflect a "shared history" of the city.[5][6] The streets renamed were;

  • Walker-/Charles Street → Justice Mahomed Street
  • Proes Street → Johannes Ramokhoase Street
  • Duncan Street → Jan Shoba Street
  • Genl. Louis Botha Drive → January Masilela Drive
  • Esselen Street → Robert Sobukwe Street
  • Vermeulen Street → Madiba Street
  • Schubart Street→ Sophie de Bruyn Street
  • Potgieter Street → Kgosi Mampuru Street
  • Prinsloo Street → Sisulu Street
  • Skinner Street → Nana Sita Street
  • Jacob Maré Street → Jeff Masemola Street
  • Queen Wilhelmina Street → Florence Ribiero Street
  • Van der Walt Street → Lillian Ngoy Street
  • Andries Street → Thabo Sehume Street
  • DF Malan Drive → Eskia Mphahlele Drive
  • Hans Strijdom Drive → Solomon Mahlangu[7] Drive
  • Mitchell Street → Charlotte Maxeke Street
  • Schoeman Street → Francis Baard Street
  • Zambezi Drive → Sefako Makgatho Drive
  • Hendrik Verwoerd Drive → Johan Heyns Drive
  • Beatrix/Mears/Voortrekker Street → Steve Biko Street
  • Church Street from Nelson Mandela Drive to the east → Stanza Bopape Street
  • Church Street from Nelson Mandela Drive to Church Square → Helen Joseph Street
  • Church Street from Church Square to the R511 → WF Nkomo Street
  • Church Street from the R511 to the west → Elias Motswaledi Street
  • Michael Brink Street → Nico Smith Street
  • Leah Mangope Street → Peter Magano Street
  • Lucas Mangope Street → Molefe Makinta Street

Pretoria's new Street names[8] all have background history to who these people are.



KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.svg

The KwaZulu-Natal province was formed in 1994 from the merger of the then province of Natal and former bantustan of KwaZulu.


  • Stanger → KwaDukuza (2006)
    • KwaDukuza was the historic capital of the Zulu but was burnt to the ground in 1828. In 1873 European settlers founded the town Stanger on the site. The town is still commonly and also sometimes officially referred to as Stanger despite being renamed to KwaDukuza in 2006.



Durban International Airport (Old Airport) → King Shaka International Airport


Limpopo in South Africa.svg
Old N1 sign showing the city of Polokwane's former name Pietersburg
N1 sign showing Polokwane's new name

The most northerly province of South Africa, the Limpopo province saw some of the earliest name changes and to date more than any other province. The province was carved out of the former Transvaal and initially named the Northern-Transvaal until the following year when it was known simply as the Northern Province. It kept this name until 2002[10] when it was renamed after the Limpopo River which forms South Africa's border with Zimbabwe. Settlement name changes especially targeted places of Afrikaans origin, such as Pietersburg (Polokwane), Nylstroom (Modimolle) and Ellisras (Lephalale), while avoiding places with Bantu or English names such as Northam, Alldays, Tzaneen and Thabazimbi. The Limpopo is the most ethnically black province in South Africa (96.7% as of 2011) and is likely to have made the name changes go smoother because of a lack of opposition from minority groups which are usually against name changes.


  • Warmbaths (Afrikaans: Warmbad) → Bela-Bela[10]
  • Ellisras → Lephalale[10]
  • Louis Trichardt → Makhado (2003) → Louis Trichardt (2007)[10]
    • The town was renamed Makhado in 2003, but was later in 2007 reverted to the original name of Louis Trichardt.
  • Nylstroom → Modimolle[10]
  • Duiwelskloof → Modjadjiskloof[10]
    • Unlike most name changes, Duiwelskloof kept the Afrikaans suffix "-kloof" (meaning valley) in its new name. The name "Ngoako Ramalepe" was also proposed.
  • Dendron → Mogwadi[10]
  • Potgietersrus → Mokopane[10]
  • Naboomspruit → Mookgophong[10]
    • The new name has sometimes been incorrectly spelled "Mookgopong".
  • Soekmekaar → Morebeng
    • Morebeng has also been spelt "'Morbeng"
  • Messina → Musina[10]
  • Pietersburg → Polokwane[10] (capital)
    • Polokwane was at first sometimes misspelled as "Pholokwane".
  • Bochum → Senwabarwana[10]
  • Vaalwater → Mabatlane (2006) → Vaalwater (2007)


Mpumalanga in South Africa.svg

Mpumalanga, itself renamed in 1995 from the Eastern Transvaal, has seen the entire northern half of the province renamed since 2005. As with the Limpopo province, most of the changes have targeted places of Afrikaans origin, but also some with British links. These have included the capital, Nelspruit (Mbombela) as well as Witbank (eMalahleni) and Lydenburg (Mashishing). Unlike the Limpopo, the name changes in Mpumalanga have largely (as of 2011) been ignored and apart from the city of Witbank, road signs and usage of the new names has been rare.[11] A couple of settlements of Bantu origin have also changed their names because they were misspelled by early settlers such as Malelane which was renamed to Malalane.


North West[edit]

North West in South Africa.svg

In May 2013 North West province premier Thandi Modise said the province needed to be renamed and not just be referred to as a "direction on a compass".[13] One of the suggestions has been to rename North West after politician and activist Moses Kotane. There is, however, already a municipality in the province named after him.


  • Mafeking → Mafikeng → Mahikeng
    • British settlers first spelt the town as Mafeking but was renamed Mafikeng in 1980 upon incorporation into the bantustan Bophuthatswana. In February 2010 the town was again renamed to Mahikeng. Residents still refer to the town as Mafikeng both informally and formally.

Northern Cape[edit]

Northern Cape in South Africa.svg

The Northern Cape is the only province in South Africa not having undergone any known significant name changes since 1994. The province has an Afrikaans speaking majority and it's unlikely therefore the local population favour any name changes.

Western Cape[edit]

Western Cape in South Africa.svg
Helen Suzman Boulevard in Cape Town, renamed from Western Boulevard in 2011

Similarly to the Northern Cape as noted above, the Western Cape has experienced only a few minor street name changes in the largest cities, but have escaped major name changes of cities and towns because the majority of the population are not Black, but instead Afrikaans or English-speaking Coloureds. Since 2007 the Western Cape has also the highest percentage of white residents (having overtaken Gauteng), which stood in 2007 at 18.4%. There have, however, been a number of suggested name changes, particularly on the southern coast of the province such as for the towns of George or Mossel Bay.


Four street names have already been changed: Oswald Pirow was changed to Chris Barnard Street, Eastern Boulevard took Nelson Mandela's name, while the concourse between the Artscape theatre and the Civic Centre was renamed after Albert Luthuli. The pedestrian section of Castle Street is to be renamed after Khoisan leader Krotoa. Table Bay Boulevard was renamed as FW de Klerk Boulevard. An additional change – Western Boulevard to Helen Suzman Boulevard – was introduced by special council resolution.


D.F. Malan Airport → Cape Town International Airport (1994) → name to be changed soon (name has not been finalised yet) [14]


  1. ^ Mothowagae, Daniel (9 March 2014). "Where the hell are we?". Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Hendrik Verwoerd Drive is no longer | IOL". IOL. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  4. ^ Yollie. "city of Johannesburg - New street names celebrate Joburg's shared past … and future". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  5. ^ (new street names for central Pretoria) - retrieved 4 February 2016
  6. ^ "Pretoria's New Street Names". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu | Pretoria". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Pretoria's New Street Names". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  9. ^, name change occurred in 2000 - Retrieved 12/09/2013
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "All but 2 Limpopo towns renamed". News24.
  11. ^ "Residents stick to 'old' city names". News24.
  12. ^ a b c d "New geographical name changes in Mpumalanga - Mpumalanga Provincial Government".
  13. ^ News24 North West name change Retrieved 8/9/2013
  14. ^ Matangira, Lungelo. "Process to rename CT International Airport underway". Retrieved 4 November 2018.