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Karoo Development Foundation

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Postmasburg -

An ancient mining site

The ancient sibilo mine of Tsantsabane

From time immemorial,many cultures loved using sibilo, a metallic ore that was ground to a powder, and then mixed with a red-ochre clay (lechoku), and spread on the face and body as a cosmetic. The San, Khoi and Tswana prized this commodity highly, and traded with it, far into the interior, often in exchange for iron and copper that they fashioned into knives and ornaments.

The original name for the sibilo mining site was Tsantsabane (hence the name of the municipality) or Sibiling, or Blinkklip.  Investigations at Blinkklipkop established a date of at least AD 800 for the mining of sibilo by hunting and gathering groups. This means that the mine is at least 1200 years old!

The site is located on municipal commonage, east of Postmasburg. It is not open to the public.

 

 

 

Bloem's Fountain - the lair of the outlaw Jan Bloem

 

In the early 1790s, the brigand Jan Bloem, with his loyal and violent clan of Korana Springbokke, lived at Jan Bloem’s Fountain, just south of present-day Postmasburg. This is on the site of the current guest farm, Soetfontein. Here Bloem increased the number of his Korana wives to 12, and built up a large following. He made war on the Tswana and Griqua for many years. 

Sibilo stone
Sparkly and powdery
Tsantsabane mine
Centre of ancient Korana mining
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The road to Soetfontein

 

The pioneers of the Gereformeerde Kerk

The first white farms were bought in about 1880. The names Viljoen and Venter are still known well in Postmasburg.

 

Significantly, these farmers belonged to the Gereformeerde Kerk (GK) - a religious denomination that had broken with the more conventional Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK). The GK was, in its doctrines, more conservative, and held the Bible as the only Christian truth. For that reason, they chose not to sing hymns in church, choosing only to sing psalms.

Because no town existed at the time, these early farmers held their church services under camelthorn trees. The first GK congregation was established on the farm Vaalwater (or Zwartkop), on Saturday 14 July 1883, in a tent, with 47 adult members.

 

Two years later, a church and school were constructed on the farm Ploegfontein of Elder AJ Viljoen.

Rev Dirk Postma
Postma still gazing over Postmasburg
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Postmasburg - a church town

When the white migrating stock farmers moved into the area, the need for a town arose. A village was formally proclaimed on 6 June 1892 and named after the Reverend Dirk Postma, one of the founders of the Gereformeerde Kerk. Rev Postma was widely recognised as a man of great integrity and tact.

In 1890, the church council decided to erect a preliminary church building in Blinkklip, and the name of the town was changed to Postmasburg in 1892. This early building cost a total of 160 pounds, together with 144 sheep, six oxen, two cows, and five large chunks of soap - truly a local community endeavour!

The little congregation declined during the Anglo-Boer War. After the war, the Church Council decided to build a new church, which was inaugurated in 1908 (see photo alongside). This church, built of blue dolomite stone, can still be visited.

A little diamond rush 

 

On the east side of Postmasburg are two old diamond mines - Postmas Mine and West End Mine. 

During 1918, a Mr Casper Venter and his assistant Plaatjie discovered a Kimberlite geological "pipe" on the townlands of Postmasburg. One of Casper Venter's fellow diamond-hunters was James West, after whom the suburb West End was named.

 

The following year T.L.H. Shone discovered a second Kimberlite pipe which became the Postmas Diamond Mine.

Hundreds of fortune-seekers arrived in Postmasburg in 1920, but the West End Diamonds Ltd had already purchased all the claims - and the aspirant diamond diggers drifted away.

 

Shone Street in Postmasburg was named after Capt TLH Shone, who was also the first person to mine manganese.

 

Gereformeerde Kerk, built 1908 ...
... still standing today
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Casper Venter sold his discovery rights to Oliver Daniel, and in 1920, the West End Diamond Mine was established. In the same year Sir Abe Bailey purchased the mine for ₤80,000. The discovery of the Kimberlite pipe brought large numbers of fortune seekers to Postmasburg. The West End Diamond Mining Company worked there successfully until 1935. The 45m deep open cast mine was then flooded with water from the dolomite rocks below. The diamond mines provided work to about 550 local people, and this boosted the development of Postmasburg.

The Postmas Diamond mine, 45 meters deep, is filled with clear water and well-stocked with fish. So Postmasburg has its own "Big Hole", just like Kimberley and Jagersfontein!

 
 
 
The Howitzer Gun

Outside the municipal offices, is a well-preserved Howitzer Gun. This fine piece of artillery honours those who lost their lives in World War. It honours the men of Postmasburg who died during World War II.

Why Postmasburg? The Howitzer Cannon was one of twelve cannons made available in 1949 by the Department of Defence, for erection as monuments. The Postmasburg Branch of the British Empire League campaigned to obtain one of these cannons, and it was then brought to Postmasburg. 

 
 

Lohatla Military Base

Lohatla is situated on the R325 north of Postmasburg.

Iti s home to the South African Army Combat Training Centre - one of only ten such institutions in the world, that provide exclusive facilities for land-based warfare training.

It was established in 1978.  Every year, it conducts Exercise Seboka, which combines infantry, armour, artillery, intelligence, air defence artillery, the Air Force, engineers, and military health services. 

In 2015, it hosted the Amani Africa 2 Field Exercise, to demonstrate the African Union's rapid deployment capability. More than 20 African nations participated.

Witsand Nature Reserve

The Witsand Nature Reserve, where stunning white sand dunes stand out in contrast to the red dunes that surround them. The dunes are also known as the Roaring Sands (Brulsand), due to the sounds they make under certain windy conditions. Curiously, the white sand does not mix with the nearby red sand of the Kalahari.

 

Witsand offers luxury accommodation, campsites, conference facilities and group accommodation. It teems with birdlife, including the Namaqua sandgrouse, the sociable weaver, and Africa’s smallest raptor, the pygmy falcon.  The birds can be viewed from a well-positioned bird hide.  Activities include hiking, mountain biking and dune boarding.