Tlhabane, North West

The establishment of the township of Tlhabane on land, a portion of which was originally owned by the Kerkraad Der Nederduitsche Hervormde Gemeente of Rustenburg, on the northwest outskirts of the town of Rustenburg (founded in 1851), is closely related to the history of racial segregation in South Africa.

In the 1920's, the residents of Bethlehem in Rustenburg were 'relocated' to what was then called 'Oukasie' (Old Location), subsequently known as Tlhabane. Later classified as Coloureds (sic.), the new arrivals at Tlhabane were Afrikaans-speaking descendants of workers employed by Boers from Lydenburg and other areas in the former Transvaal Republic, who eventually settled in Bethlehem.

Named after a local chief, the literal meaning of Tlhabane in Sesotho is 'spear'.

Like all townships where people of colour were forced to live on the periphery of white towns and cities, Tlhabane became a typical manifestation of racial segregation in its crudest form. Its residents were only welcome in the white areas in Rustenburg when labour was required in the commercial, industrial and mining sectors.

The institutionalisation of apartheid after 1948, generally, and the enforcement of forced removals during the 1960's and 1970’s, in particular, led to Tlhabane becoming the most densely populated Black settlement (or township) in the Rustenburg area.

On 1 June 1977, Bophuthatswana, a product of the Bantustan system of the apartheid regime, attained independence. This was five years after Bophuthatswana was proclaimed a self-governing 'Bantu' homeland.

Instead of Rustenburg being incorporated wholly into Bophuthatswana, it was divided into a South African sector, and a sector which fell into Bophuthatswana. The common boundary between the two 'independent' countries was Plein Street, to the southeast of Tlhabane – the township was henceforth considered an integral part of the newly independent Bophuthatswana.

Martinson, W A and Bruwer, J Heritage Scoping Report in respect of the property commonly known as Tlhabane Town Centre, (Portion 2 of Erf 3582, Portion 5 through to portion 8 of Erf 3582, Portion 10 through to portion 13 of Erf 3582 + Remainder of Erf 3582 Tlhabane Unit 1 Township), Rustenburg, North-West Province. Compiled for the GEPF, 20 November 2015.

(Submitted by William MARTINSON)

List of structures:

Fire Station: Late 1980.
Phokeng Magistrate's Court: n.d..
Police Station: c1988.
Tlhabane Public Library: c1988.
Tlhabane Shopping Centre: c1988.
Tlhabane Sun Hotel and Casino (now Meridian College): c1988. Unit 1,
Tlhabane Town Hall: c1988.