Index Cacadu District Municipality officially renamed as the Sarah Baartman District Municipality
Date Added: 02 September 2014

The renaming of the Cacadu District Municipality has officially been gazetted, adding momentum to the municipality’s efforts of institutionalising the new name of Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

The Council took the decision in 2012 to change the name of the Cacadu District to Sarah Baartman in order to give recognition to the icon and the role of coloured people in the fight against apartheid. Sarah Baartman is an international icon, synonymous with the commitment to democracy by the South African Government. Baartman, of Khoikhoi descent, was born in 1789, raised within the Gamtoos Valley and laid to rest in Hankey along the banks of the Gamtoos River on 9 August 2002.

A lengthy stakeholder consultation process was undertaken between the Cacadu District Municipality, communities of the District, political leadership, and local municipalities, the South African Heritage Resources Agency as well as the South African Geographical Names Council. Amongst the specific stakeholders consulted during the public participation process were the Khoi and the San, which were of the opinion that the changing of the name is an opportunity to rewrite history and rectify the heritage of their people.

The application to change the name was thereafter submitted to the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs for consideration and subsequent approval.

“It is an immense honour for the District to be officially named after an icon such as Sarah Baartman. It is our intention to uphold what she represents and through initiatives such as the Moral Regeneration Movement we will continue to endeavour to restore the dignity of the people of this District,” said Executive Mayor of the Cacadu District Municipality, Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana.

Following the completion of a new brand strategy and corporate identity for the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, the name will be implemented using a phased approach.

The significance of Sarah Baartman

She became orphaned when her family was attacked in a commando raid and was subsequently taken to Cape Town as a slave. At the age of 20, in 1810, she was taken to London by William Dunlop, a British ship’s doctor. There she was put on display as a human novelty, due to the fascination of the Europeans with her body shape. Her inhumane treatment was exposed and a court case was brought in her defence by the African Association, an anti-slavery group in London. When she could no longer be displayed in London, she was sold to an animal trainer in France, who also used her as if she were a circus animal. She died of a respiratory illness in Paris in 1815, after which her body was dissected by a scientist named George Cuvier, Napoleon’s surgeon-general. A body cast was made of her corpse and her body parts were put on display until 1974.

In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appealed to the French Government for the return of the remains of Sarah Baartman from the Musee de l’Homme in Paris. It was only in 2002 that the French Government finally agreed.

On 22 August 2002, the former president, Thabo Mbeki, declared the grave of Sarah Baartman a national heritage site.