The School Governing Body (SGB) of Hoërskool DF Malan in Cape Town can continue with the process of renaming the school to DF Akademie, as it attempts to move away from its namesake – the former Prime Minister of SA when the foundations for apartheid were laid.

News24 report says this was after the Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney dismissed an application by four individuals to review and set aside the SGB's decision to choose a name that was more inclusive.

The applicants in the matter accused the SGB of bias, acting on ‘implied power’ derived from the South African Schools Act, which they interpreted to state that the governing body does not have the power to change the school's name.

In his judgment, Henney agreed that the Act did not explicitly grant the governing body powers to rename the school.

However, there was no provision prohibiting it from exercising these powers.

‘Given the applicants' interpretation of the Schools Act, it would seem that no public school in SA can change its name, not even by “a body in whose hands the effective power to run schools were placed in the hands of parents and guardians of learners through a school governing body”.

Such an interpretation is an irrational one which seeks to undermine the provisions of the Schools Act.’

Henney accepted the school's name had a negative connotation and was offensive to millions of marginalised South Africans directly affected by apartheid and racial discrimination, of which Malan can be regarded as ‘one of the architects of apartheid’.

According to the News24 report, Henney said the calls to rename the school were valid in the country's democratic and Constitutional context.

‘The glorification of his name by an insistence that a school be named after him in post-apartheid SA, where young people have to embrace a culture based on the values of our Constitution, is an insult not only to them but to the millions of South Africans who suffered at the hands of the apartheid regime. The only purpose to be served by preserving and holding onto this name is an illogical and unreasonable affinity and mourning of the apartheid regime characterised by its degrading and undignified treatment of black South Africans. This is clearly what some of the applicants and those who support their cause seeks to achieve.’

Full News24 report

Judgment