Bethlehem, Free State

Bethlehem is a town in the eastern Free State province of South Africa that is situated on the Liebenbergs river (also called Liebenbergs Vlei) along a fertile valley just north of the Rooiberg Mountains on the N5 road. It is the fastest growing town in the Free state province, with its target of being the third largest city after Bloemfontein and Welkom.

Bethlehem
View of Bethlehem CBD looking west
View of Bethlehem CBD looking west
Coat of arms of Bethlehem
Bethlehem is located in Free State (South African province)
Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is located in South Africa
Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is located in Africa
Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Coordinates: 28°13′26″S 28°18′40″E / 28.224°S 28.311°E / -28.224; 28.311Coordinates: 28°13′26″S 28°18′40″E / 28.224°S 28.311°E / -28.224; 28.311
CountrySouth Africa
ProvinceFree State
DistrictThabo Mofutsanyane
MunicipalityDihlabeng
Area
 • Total27.8 km2 (10.7 sq mi)
Elevation
1,700 m (5,600 ft)
Population
 (2011)[1]
 • Total16,236
 • Density580/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • White56.0%
 • Black African32.7%
 • Coloured8.7%
 • Indian/Asian2.1%
 • Other0.5%
First languages (2011)
 • Afrikaans66.7%
 • Sotho19.4%
 • English7.2%
 • Zulu2.7%
 • Other4.0%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
9701
PO box
9700
Area code058

It is a wheat growing area and named after the biblical Bethlehem (from "Beit Lechem", Hebrew for "house of bread").[2]

The town lies at an altitude of 1,700 metres (5,600 ft) and this contributes to its cool climate with frosty winters and mild summers. The average annual temperature is around 14 °C (57 °F).

Bethlehem is situated approximately 240 kilometres (150 mi) north-east of Bloemfontein, 140 kilometres (87 mi) east of Kroonstad and 90 kilometres (56 mi) west of Harrismith. The town is strategically situated in the heart of the picturesque north-eastern Free State and originally developed as a service centre.[3] Bethlehem is the seat of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality (this municipality is situated within the boundaries of the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality in the Eastern Free State).

The township associated with Bethlehem is called Bohlokong, named after the hloko/bohloko grass Diheteropogon filifolius.[4]

HistoryEdit

Bethlehem was founded by local residents, Neil Bishop,Kristiaan Klopper,Ruandi Steinmann and Tea van de Merve who first founded bethlehem in 1874 and saved the area from a frog plague.

Society and cultureEdit

Museums, provincial heritage sites and memorialsEdit

A number of heritage sites are located in Bethlehem:

  • 14 President Burgers Street[5]
  • A B Baartman Wagon House[6]
  • Loch Athlone Dam Wall[7]
  • Main Building of the Bethlehem Technical College[8]
  • Nederduitse Gereformeerde Mother Church[9]
  • Old Magistrates Court[10]
  • Old Nederduitse Gereformeerde Mission Church parsonage[11]
  • Old Nederduitse Gereformeerde Mission Church[12]
  • St Andrews Presbyterian Church[13]
  • St Augustine Anglican Church[14]
  • Strapps Shop[15]
  • The Seminary[16]
  • Town Hall[17]
  • Wooden Spoon Restaurant[18]

SchoolsEdit

  • Witteberg High School
  • Tiisetsang High School
  • Ntsu Secondary School
  • Thabo-Thokoza Secondary School
  • L.K Ntlabathi Secondary School
  • Jordania Primary School
  • Truida Kestell Primary School
  • Graanveld Primary School
  • Bethlehem Comprehensive School
  • Bodikela intermediate School
  • Bethlehem Voortrekker High School
  • Bohlokong Primary School
  • Nthute Primary School
  • Motshepuwa Primary School
  • Rehopotswe Primary School
  • New Horizon College
  • Impumelelo Primary School
  • Impucuko Primary School
  • Khanyeng Intermediate School

ClimateEdit

Climate data for Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa, 1991-2020 normals, extremes 1980-present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 37.4
(99.3)
33.4
(92.1)
34.1
(93.4)
31.2
(88.2)
29.9
(85.8)
25.5
(77.9)
25.2
(77.4)
28.7
(83.7)
31.3
(88.3)
33.8
(92.8)
35.7
(96.3)
36.4
(97.5)
37.4
(99.3)
Average high °C (°F) 27.5
(81.5)
27.0
(80.6)
25.6
(78.1)
22.8
(73.0)
20.2
(68.4)
17.6
(63.7)
17.6
(63.7)
20.5
(68.9)
24.3
(75.7)
25.7
(78.3)
26.4
(79.5)
27.3
(81.1)
23.5
(74.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 19.4
(66.9)
19.0
(66.2)
17.4
(63.3)
14.1
(57.4)
10.6
(51.1)
7.4
(45.3)
7.3
(45.1)
10.2
(50.4)
14.1
(57.4)
16.3
(61.3)
17.5
(63.5)
18.9
(66.0)
14.4
(57.8)
Average low °C (°F) 13.3
(55.9)
13.0
(55.4)
11.0
(51.8)
6.7
(44.1)
2.0
(35.6)
−1.5
(29.3)
−2.0
(28.4)
0.7
(33.3)
4.6
(40.3)
8.3
(46.9)
10.3
(50.5)
12.4
(54.3)
6.6
(43.8)
Record low °C (°F) 0.0
(32.0)
1.8
(35.2)
0.0
(32.0)
−4.0
(24.8)
−10.0
(14.0)
−9.3
(15.3)
−12.5
(9.5)
−10.2
(13.6)
−6.8
(19.8)
−2.9
(26.8)
0.2
(32.4)
1.1
(34.0)
−12.5
(9.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 122.1
(4.81)
109.0
(4.29)
79.0
(3.11)
40.5
(1.59)
16.5
(0.65)
11.0
(0.43)
11.1
(0.44)
11.8
(0.46)
17.3
(0.68)
72.6
(2.86)
90.1
(3.55)
121.3
(4.78)
702.2
(27.65)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 13.1 11.2 11.1 6.0 2.6 1.9 1.0 2.0 2.9 8.2 11.0 13.2 84.2
Average relative humidity (%) 66.1 67.5 67.6 63.9 55.3 52.6 48.9 44.9 42.7 52.2 57.5 62.8 56.8
Source: NOAA[19]

ShoppingEdit

 
Bohlokong and Thorisong townships

Bethlehem has many shopping Centres like any other town in the Free State. Bethlehem is the main center of the eastern Free State where people from other towns do their shopping, the main shopping malls are:

  • Bethlehem mall
  • Dihlabeng mall
  • Maluti square.

Others are:

  • Village square
  • Metropolitan life Centre
  • Shoprite Centre.

With the shopping in this town also characterized by typical high street shopping with majority of shops situated along the Muller, Cambridge, Louw, Church, High and other surrounding streets.

SportEdit

Premier Soccer League and National First Division clubs Free State Stars and Super Eagles F.C are based in Bethlehem and plays its home games at Goble Park. Bethlehem is also the birthplace of notable rugby union players including Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn. One of the greatest rugby players in history, Tom van Vollenhoven who played rugby union for South Africa and rugby league for St Helens in England was born in Bethlehem. 2019 Japan Rugby World Cup winning team player of Springboks, Bongi Mbonambi was born in Bohlokong.

EconomyEdit

 
The Saulspoort Dam receives water from the As River via the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme

Bethlehem is a retail, medical, and educational hub for the Eastern Free State. It has three private hospitals and four star Frontier hotel, Casino and Entertainment Centre located near the beautiful Dihlabeng Mall and Bethlehem Aerodrome.

IndustryEdit

Bethlehem hosts several industries including Coca-Cola, South African Breweries and Nestlé, as well as petroleum and engineering companies.

HealthEdit

  • Dihlabeng Regional Hospital (public)
  • Phekolong Hospital (Public)
  • Hoogland Medi-Clinic (Private)
  • Bethlehem Medical Centre (Semi-Private)
  • Nurture Corona Hospital (semi-private)
  • Bethlehem Diere Hospital (Private)
  • Several government clinics also in the townships of Bohlokong, Thorisong, Vuka, Phumlamqasha, Old Location, Giyani and Bakenpark.

TransportationEdit

RoadEdit

Bethlehem is located on the N5 road to the provincial capital Bloemfontein via Senekal and Winburg to the N1. Other regional roads in the town are R76 road to Kroonstad (north), the R26 road to Reitz and Fouriesburg (north east and south) respectively.

RailEdit

Bethlehem is located on the main railway line between Bloemfontein and Durban. This railway line transports passengers and freight.

AirEdit

Bethlehem is served by a small airport with chartered daily flights to Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.

Coats of armsEdit

Municipal (1)Edit

By 1931, the municipal council had assumed a coat of arms.[20] The arms were registered with the Orange Free State Provincial Administration in October 1958.[21]

The arms were: Party per chevron Azure and Gules, a chevron Or, in chief between two springboks couped at the neck respecting each other, proper, a mullet of the third, and in base three maize cobs, the outer ones pilewise, all proper. In layman's terms, the shield depicted a golden chevron between a gold star and two springboks' head on a blue background, and three maize cobs on a red background.

Municipal (2)Edit

A new coat of arms was designed in the 1980s. It was registered at the Bureau of Heraldry in June 1989.[22]

The arms were: Per chevron, Azure and Gules, a chevron Or between in chief a mullet and in base two bars wavy, Argent (i.e. a golden chevron between a silver star on a blue background and two wavy silver stripes on a red background).

The crest was three golden ears of wheat with blue stalks and leaves, tied together with a red band; the motto was Conjuncti prosperamus.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Bethlehem from Census 2011.
  2. ^ Raper, RE. Dictionary of Southern African Place Names. Human Science Research Council.
  3. ^ http://www.dihlabeng.gov.za
  4. ^ Rodney Moffet, Grasses of the Eastern Free State: Their descriptions and uses, UNIQWA, Phuthaditjhaba, 1997
  5. ^ "14 President Burgers Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  6. ^ "A B Baartman Wagon House Muller and Landdros Streets Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-11-28.
  7. ^ "Loch Athlone Dam Wall Pretoriuskloof Nature Reserve Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-11-28.
  8. ^ "Main Building Technical College Bethlehem Wessels Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  9. ^ "Nederduitse Gereformeerde Mother Church Church Square Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  10. ^ "Old Magistrates Court Louw Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  11. ^ "Old Nederduitse Gereformeerde Mission Church parsonage President Boshoff Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  12. ^ "Old Nederduitse Gereformeerde Mission Church Muller Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-11-29.
  13. ^ "St Andrews Presbyterian Church 144 Cambridge Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  14. ^ "St Augustine Anglican Church 34 Louw Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  15. ^ "Strapps Shop 18 Church Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03.
  16. ^ "The Seminary Wessels Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-11-28.
  17. ^ "Town Hall 20-22 Muller Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  18. ^ "Wooden Spoon Braairestaurant 12 Church Street Bethlehem". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  19. ^ "Global Surface Summary of the Day - GSOD". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  20. ^ The arms were depicted on a cigarette card issued in 1931.
  21. ^ Orange Free State Official Gazette 41 (10 October 1958).
  22. ^ http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit