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Klerksdorp History

History of Klerksdorp

Climate

  • Klerksdorp has a semi-arid climate (BSh/BSk, according to the Köppen climate classification), with warm to hot summers and cool, dry winters. The average annual precipitation is 482 mm (19 in), with most rainfall occurring mainly during summer.

Klerksdorp today

  • The greater city area of Klerksdorp incorporates the towns of Orkney, Kanana, Stilfontein, Khuma, Hartbeesfontein and Tigane, giving it a population of more than 350,000 inhabitants (Census Statistics South Africa 2001). Together with Rustenburg, Klerksdorp forms the economic heart of North West Province. It is one of the hubs of the South African gold mining industry, although its importance has been decreasing in recent years. A major earthquake in March 2005 caused significant damage to the eastern suburb of Stilfontein and caused widespread damage to mining activities. It is expected to be a large uranium producer in the future.
  • Apart from mining, Klerksdorp is positioned as a notable medical, retail and educational centre for North West Province and Northern Free State.
  • The farming district is also known for its Sussex cattle herds – the city is the headquarters of the South African Sussex Cattle Breeders Association.

Tourist attractions

  • Mining shafts excavated in the 1880s.
  • The Klerksdorp Museum. It was built in 1891 as a prison and served as such until 1973. The house of the warden hosts period exhibitions. It exhibits the Klerksdorp sphere, spherical to subspherical objects that pseudoarcheologists consider to be man-made.
  • The Faan Meintjies Nature Reserve, located about 15 km from Klerksdorp. It has 30 species of game and 150 species of birds.
  • The Oudorp hiking trail. It is a 12 km long trail and winds its way through the oldest parts of the town.
  • Goudkoppie (Gold Hill) is the city’s latest tourist attraction. It is situated near both the N12 highway and the JohannesburgCape Town railway line.
  • The Klerksdorp Dam, 10 km outside Klerksdorp on the road to Ventersdorp.

Sport

  • Harry Oppenheimer stadium situated between Klerksdorp and Vaal Reefs is a popular sports field for some of the bigger schools’ athletics competitions. The stadium was originally considered as one of the host cities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup but lost its bid to the Rustenburg Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

Health

  • Four private hospitals in the city lifts Klerksdorp’s medical status in the North West Province. Adding to this is the advanced cancer treatment at some hospitals drawing in patients from all over the district.

Crime in Klerksdorp

  • The latest crime statistics for Klerksdorp Police Precinct was issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in September 2012. The SAPS crime report[2] showed the following information:
  • In comparison to other major towns and cities in South Africa, Klerksdorp is still considered one of the safer locations in the nation.

Other towns in the Klerksdorp district

Klerksdorp originated in the late 1830s when the first Voortrekkers settled on the banks of the Schoonspruit (“ clear stream”) which flows through the town. Prominent among the first settlers was C M du Plooy who appropriated a farm of some 16 000 ha and called it Elandsheuwel( “ hill of the eland “). Other trekkers joined him there and, in exchange for help with the construction of a dam and irrigation canal were granted portions of the farm as well as communal grazing rights on the rest of the land. This collection of smallholdings was later given the name of Klerksdorp in honor of the first landdrost ( magistrate ) of the area, Jacob de Clerq.


The tranquility of this rural paradise was shattered in August 1886 when A P Roos discovered gold on the farm Rietkuil ( “ pool of reeds “ ) and on the village ‘s commonage. In the same year, what turned out to be the world’s richest gold reef was discovered on the Witwatersrand about 160 km to the east. The world was in the grip of gold fever and the inevitable rush hit Klerksdorp as well. The 4 000 would be diggers who descended on the village were asked to draw lots for mining rights on public land.

A shanty town sprang up virtually overnight on the other bank of Schoonspruit and within three years of the first discovery the “ new town” boasted about 70 taverns and a stock exchange of its own. Before the latter building was put up , “high change” was called at the Exchange Hotel. The diggers of Klerksdorp soon made the same sad discovery as those on the Witwatersrand : the gold was there but it demanded expensive and sophisticated equipment to recover. One by one the Klerksdorp mining companies folded and the diggers moved to tile Witwatersrandsand elsewhere.

The railway from Krugersdorp reached Klerksdorp on 3 August 1897 and that from Kimberley in 1906. Today Klerksdorp is the hub of the gold and uranium mining industry of the Far West Rand.

The 3 500 km² district is also known for its fine herds of Sussex cattle, the town being the headquarters of the South African Sussex Cattle Breeders Association.

The most important crops are maize, sorghum, groundnuts and sunflower seed. Klerksdorp boasts the largest maize silo in the country as well as the largest agricultural co-operative in the southern hemisphere, Senwes Cooperative

ORKNEY

This mining town on the Vaal River, immortalized in the Afrikaans television comedy series Orkney Snork Nie, was proclaimed on 20 March 1940 but its history goes back to the gold rush days of the 19th century.

One of the pioneer diggers drawn to the Western Transvaal by the gold discoveries of the late 1880s was Simon Fraser, whose claim was on the farm Witkoppies (white hills ).

Fraser hailed from the Orkney Island off the north coast of Scotland and called his mine Orkney. Hence the name of the town.

STILFONTEIN


Like Orkney, Stilfontein has a Scottish connection in its origins. Charles Scott who hailed from Strathmore country in Scotland, acquired a farm in these parts and called it Strathvaal. In 1888 he discovered the outcrop of a gold reef on this farm and named it Strathmore Reef. Upon Charles’s death, his son Jack continued the search and acquired an option on the farm Stilfontein (“ quiet spring”) nearby.

Subsequent drilling operations confirmed the presence of the reef which gave very good assay results.

In 1949 Stilfontein Gold Mining Company was registered and a town laid out. Production started in 1952. Today the town is home to men and women employed on four important mines in the area –Stilfontein, Hartebeesfontein, Zandpan and Buffelsfontein.

Because it is relatively young, the town ‘s layout is based on modern town-planning methods concepts and incorporates several parks, gardens and fountains. The four mines jointly developed the Strathvaal Recreation Club.


The Khuma suburb has its origin as the farm “Wildebeespan”. With the foundation/ erection of Scott Shaft, would-be employees rushed from all over the country to the Khuma suburb. Education of the children took place on an informal basis. The first school in the Khuma suburb was known as “Wildebeespan Bantoeskool” . The school was housed in better buildings and was from then on known as Tukisang Primary School. The name Khuma means “riches”.

HARTEBEESFONTEIN


There are two stories, both related to the early Voortrekkers, to account for the origins of this town 30 km north-west of Klerksdorp – Ottosdal branch railway line. According to one story, two men by the name of De Clerq went hunting, wounded a Hartebees and found it dead at a spring which they then named Hartebeesfontein.

The second story goes that when in 1837 Voortrekker leader Hendrik Potgieter led a punitive expedition against Mzilikazi’s impis, some of his men were left behind in a laager near here. Bored, one of the men went hunting. He wounded a Hartebeest gave chase and came upon a bubbling spring. After the campaign had ended he returned to the area where he acquired a farm which he named Hartebeesfontein.

In the Anglo-Boer War Hartebeesfontein was the scene of a battle between a Boer commando and Lord Methuen’s forces on 18 February 1901. Prior to this and later the farm changed hands several times. Eventually owner H F Moller subdivided the land for a village which was proclaimed a town.