History of Middelburg

What makes our history, which comes from the memories and stories of those who lived in the jurisdiction area of the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality, before us so unique? New, or perhaps forgotten, historical information from different sources, and with the help of our local heritage professional’, Abby Maloma, give insight into our own unique cultural heritage as a town, in this feature.

The area where Middelburg town is situated today was originally part of the Lydenburg Republic that separated from the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republic in 1857.

It is said that Rev JH Neethling of Stellenbosch, who visited the parsonages of the Transvaal in 1850’s, recommended that a town should be proclaimed and named Middelburg.  The name was chosen due to the geographic location of the town which is halfway between Pretoria and Lydenburg. The Volksraad adopted the name and the town was duly christened Middelburg.

  • Land Area : Approx 117.40Km2( 45.33sq mi)
  • Population : 229831 ( male gender 119 410 and female gender 110 421)
  • First Languages:
  • Afrikaans 50.3%
  • Zulu 12.4%
  • English 11.1%
  • Northern Sotho 7.6%
  • Other 18.9%

Doornkop came into being around 1905 after the Pedis from Botshabelo decided to purchase their own land, escaping the unfair labour practices by the German missionaries. The land was bought by 284 residents from the farmer, Klaas ‘Tumahlogo’ Joubert for R7 000. Their title deed is dated 28 March 1915. It is assumed that the original village established here, is more than 100 years old.

Across the ridge on the north-western side towards Botshabelo, the township of Mhluzi was established a few years after the town of Middelburg in 1879. It was incorporated into the greater Middelburg in 1994. The first residents were (the late) Hermanus Motsedi Sefoloshe and his wife, Nelly Otto.

On 17 May 1884, President Paul Kruger and Portugal entered into an agreement to develop a railway line between Pretoria and Delgoa Bay (now Maputo). The station had been in use since 1890 and was only completed in 1894.

Jacobus Pertus Toerien. He wrote under the pen name of Jepete. The epitaph on his grave reads “JEPETE responsible for the translation of SARIE MARAIS”

The American folk-song ‘Ellie Rhee’ was translated to Afrikaans and Ellie Rhee became Sarie Marais (Mare). This song became known during the Anglo Boer War – there are references to the Khakis, a name given to the British by the Boers.

Toerien was a co-worker in the translation of the song, but there is no conclusive proof that he was responsible for the origin of Sarie Marais. It is possible that he ` wrote ` the third verse during the 1914 / 1915 Rebellion.