South Africa: Interim Orders And Street Names – Have They Lost Their Appeal?

Last Updated: 19 August 2016
Article by Deon Lambert and Portia J. Daniell

Most Read Contributor in South Africa, September 2016

Streets named after a country's heroes and heroines can be a hotly contested and emotive issue, especially in a country such as South Africa, with its colonial and apartheid past. This was illustrated in the recent Constitutional Court case of City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality v AfriForum and Another (the "AfriForum case"), which not only dealt with this sensitive topic, but also clarified an important legal issue – whether an interim interdict can be appealed.

Briefly, interdicts order parties to do something or to stop doing something in an effort to avoid irreparable harm. As court cases may take some time to be heard, parties may apply for an interim interdict to provide temporary relief until the court hears the full matter and makes a final order. Due to their temporary nature, interim interdicts are generally not considered to be appealable. But, as the AfriForum case demonstrates, this principle is not cast in stone.

The AfriForum case

The AfriForum case has its roots in a decision by the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality ("CoT") to change 25 of Pretoria's old street names, like Dr Hendrik Verwoerd and Louis Botha, to new ones like President Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko "to shed Pretoria of its colonial and apartheid legacy". NGO AfriForum opposed the changes, viewing them as "an assault" on Afrikaner history and heritage. The organisation and an individual taxpayer (collectively referred to as "AfriForum") launched a court application to review the CoT's decision, claiming insufficient public participation. They also applied for an interim interdict to stop the CoT removing the old street names and directing it to restore those it had already removed, pending the outcome of the review.

The interim interdict was granted by the high court, which accepted that the old street names were a historical treasure and heritage "so intimate to the very being of the Afrikaner people" and that even their temporary removal would cause irreparable harm.

Unhappy with this result, the CoT applied to the high court for leave to appeal the interdict, which was initially denied, but later granted after it petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal ("SCA"). However, this victory was short lived as a full court dismissed the appeal, and the SCA refused leave to appeal the ruling of the full court. The CoT then approached the Constitutional Court, where, on 21 July 2016, it was finally successful. The CoT had argued that AfriForum had not satisfied the requirements for an interim interdict, particularly because it failed to show that it stood to suffer irreparable harm if it was not granted, and that the balance of convenience favoured it. At the centre of the case was the question of whether or not an interim interdict can be appealed.

The Constitutional Court judgment

The court noted that, under the common law, whether an interim order is appealable depends on whether it is final in effect. However, this has changed since the enactment of the Constitution and the courts now need to consider the overarching constitutional standard, which is whether an appeal would best serve the interests of justice.

In the majority judgment written by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, the court noted that South Africa still looked "very much like Europe" and the fact that few of the country's city, town and street names give recognition to black people does not reflect a commitment to the spirit of unity, transformation and reconciliation.

It added that courts should be slow to interfere in the exercise of legitimate government powers by another branch of government; here the CoT, which was responsible for street names in Pretoria. However, this was not an ordinary application for an interim order as it concerned transformation and the related right to govern, and the court found that it was in the interests of justice that the interim interdict was appealable.

The court then considered the requirements for granting an interim interdict and found that the interdict in question should never have been granted. This was because AfriForum had not met the requirement of irreparable harm, and the balance of convenience was also not in its favour.

The court found that the harm claimed by AfriForum – the emotional hurt or suffering caused by a loss of place or sense of belonging and association with the direct environment, even by the temporary removal of the old names – did not hold weight.

"The sense of place and ... belonging contended for by AfriForum is highly insensitive to the sense of belonging of other cultural or racial groups. It ... does not seem to have much regard for the centuries old deprivation of 'a sense of place and a sense of belonging' that black people have had to endure," the court said.

And, even if the change of names amounted to harm, it could not be considered irreparable as it was not permanent or irreversible. Should the high court find in AfriForum's favour in the review, which is yet to be heard, the old names could be reinstated.

The Constitutional Court therefore allowed the appeal and overturned the interim interdict. It is, however, interesting to note that while nine of the court's judges agreed with this judgment, two did not.

In a minority judgment, justices Johan Froneman and Edwin Cameron acknowledged that continuing the wounds of the past would increase emotional distress, but they did not believe the best way to correct the past injustices was by unjustifiably weakening the "well-established and sensible rules and principles" for appeals against interim interdicts.

Justices Froneman and Cameron noted that many cultural, religious and associational organisations have roots in the country's oppressive past and they questioned whether these organisations were all constitutional outcasts because of a history tainted by bloodshed or racism. They invited a deeper analysis on this issue.

In response, Justice Chris Jafta (who was one of the judges who made up the majority judgment) issued a third judgment, in which he disagreed with the minority judgment. He said that racist and oppressive traditions have no place in South Africa's constitutional order and there was no justification for recognising cultural traditions or interests that are rooted in a racist past. Justice Jafta also denied that the majority judgment had weakened the rules and principles for appeals against interim interdicts.

As this case illustrates, the appealability of interim interdicts is an issue that has divided various courts and the country's top judges. It is therefore significant that we now have clarity on the issue: interim interdicts can be appealed, provided it is in the interests of justice to do so.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.