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Brandfort is a small agricultural town in the central Free State about 60km northeast of Bloemfontein. The townserves the surrounding farms for supplies and amenities. It is well known for once being home to the Anti-Apartheid stalwart and former wife of Nelson Mandela Winnie Mandela during her banishment. The British built a concentration camp here during the Second Boer War to house Boer women and children. F Brandfort was also home to former prime-minister Hendrik Verwoerd, an architect of Apartheid, who matriculated there and Cardiff City F.C. midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi was born in Brandfort.

Brandfort is located in Free State (South African province)
Brandfort is located in South Africa
Brandfort is located in Africa
 Brandfort shown within Free State
Coordinates: 28°42′5″S 26°27′32″E / 28.70139°S 26.45889°E / -28.70139; 26.45889Coordinates: 28°42′5″S 26°27′32″E / 28.70139°S 26.45889°E / -28.70139; 26.45889
Country South Africa
Province Free State
District Lejweleputswa
Municipality Masilonyana
Established 1875[1]
 • Total 29.9 km2 (11.5 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 12,899
 • Density 430/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
 • Black African 87.1%
 • Coloured 1.2%
 • Indian/Asian 0.3%
 • White 11.2%
 • Other 0.2%
First languages (2011)[2]
 • Sotho 55.3%
 • Xhosa 16.6%
 • Afrikaans 13.5%
 • Tswana 9.1%
 • Other 5.5%
Postal code (street) 9400
PO box 9400
Area code 051


Brief HistoryEdit

Brandfort is a small town in the Free State province of South Africa. It was established in 1866 on the farm Keerom, occupied by Jacobus van Zijl who was a Voortrekker elder. The community was visited by the then Orange Free State President, Johannes Brand, and, shortly afterwards, the farm was named in his honour. Brandfort was later proclaimed a town in 1874.[3]

Historical SitesEdit

Concentration campsEdit

Brandfort concentration camp

oncentration camps, derived from the Spanish word “concentrade”, were first used in Cuba in 1896 by General Butcher Weyler. Half a million Cuban civilians were rounded up and put in fortified villages in which about 100 000 of them died. In South Africa, the first concentration camps were erected in early 1901 during the South African War (1899-1902), also known as the Second Boer War.[4] Thousands of women and children were removed from their farms and towns to the concentration camps.

Conditions in the concentration camps were poor due to overcrowding and inadequate supplies. alnutrition and disease spread rapidly leading to the deaths of many civilians in these camps. [5]

Segregation persisted during war time and there was a camp for hites called Dwyersdorp (named after Captain Dywer who assisted white women and children who had been incarcerated at the camp) and the adjacent one for Blacks was called Nooitgedacht.[6] The camp cemetery was declared as a National Monument in 1985 and currently holds Provincial Heritage Site status. It contains the remains of 1263 women and children who died. The cemetery was opened on 22 September 1962 by President Charles Robberts Swart.

   Coordinates: S28º42’36.66”E26º28’23.09”[7]

Banishment house of Winnie MandelaEdit

Winnie Mandela (Politician, liberation struggle stalwart and former wife of the late Nelson Mandela) was banished to the Afrikaner dominated town of Brandfort in May 1977. She lived at house number 802 in the black township in Brandfort. The area had no running water and electricity, and when she moved to her house, there were no floors and ceilings. [8] In the book Winnie Mandela: A life, she described Brandfort as:

    “A drab and dusty rural hamlet with unimaginative houses, an old-fashioned two-storey hotel, small shops lining the main street and a pervading atmosphere of lethargy and inactivity… The forlorn township had no official name but the black residents had baptised it “Phathakahle” meaning handle with care.[9]

The site has been nominated as a national heritage site and plans are underway to develop and turn it into a museum.

Other monuments and heritage sitesEdit

  • Florisbad

The property with the Archaeological and Palaeontological site known as Florisbad thereon, being Subdivision 3 of Florisbad 686

   Government Notice: 11191
   Date: 12 September 1997
   Gazette Number: 18263[10]
  • Vice-Admiral Weston’s home

The first aeroplane built in Africa was built in here on the property of Vice-Admiral Weston. The house has been turned into a tourist attraction with the history of the vice-admiral and of Brandfort. There is also a restaurant for tourists. [11]

  • Voortrekker Memorial Wall

In the front of the Dutch Reformed Church, there is a wall of names which honours Voortrekker settlers in the area.[12]

  • Angel statue
Angel statue in front of Dutch Reformed Church in Brandfort

This statue stands prominently in front of the Dutch Reformed Church. It is a commemoration of the Boer women and children (and also farm workers) who died in Brandfort concentration camps during the South African War. [13]


  1. ^ "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sum of the Main Places Majemasweu and Brandfort from Census 2011.
  3. ^ "Brandfort Tourism". Discover Travel Spectrum. Retrieved 4 December 2017. 
  4. ^ War Museum. Black participation and suffering in the South African War 1899-1902: An untold story. Firefly Publications. p. 81. 
  5. ^ Warwick, Peter. Black people and the South African War, 1899-1902. Cambridge University Press. p. 149. 
  6. ^ Haig, Theodore Josina. The Kimberley arrangement. New York: Page publishing Inc. p. 53. ISBN 9781682892596. 
  7. ^ "Declared sites" (PDF). SAHRIS. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  8. ^ South African History Online (16 March 2011). "Winnie Mandela is banished to Brandfort". South African History Online. SAHO. Retrieved 4 December 2017. 
  9. ^ Du Preez-Bezrob, Anne Marie. Winnie Mandela: A Life. Cape Town: Zebra Press. p. 185. ISBN 1868729265. 
  10. ^ "Declared sites". SAHRIS. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  11. ^ "Brandfort Attractions". Free State Tourism. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  12. ^ "Brandfort Attractions". Free State Tourism. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  13. ^ "Brandfort". Showme Community websites. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 

External LinksEdit