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Welkom's city centre
Welkom's city centre
Nickname(s): Circle City
Welkom is located in South Africa
 Welkom shown within South Africa
Coordinates: 27°58′59″S 26°43′15″E / 27.98306°S 26.72083°E / -27.98306; 26.72083Coordinates: 27°58′59″S 26°43′15″E / 27.98306°S 26.72083°E / -27.98306; 26.72083
Country South Africa
Province Free State
District Lejweleputswa
Municipality Matjhabeng
Established 1947
 • Total 212.7 km2 (82.1 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 211,011
 • Density 990/km2 (2,600/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 84.9%
 • Coloured 3.7%
 • Indian/Asian 0.4%
 • White 10.8%
 • Other 0.2%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Sotho 58.3%
 • Afrikaans 14.6%
 • Xhosa 13.6%
 • English 5.0%
 • Other 8.5%
Postal code (street) 9459
PO box 9460
Area code 057

Welkom (Afrikaans pronunciation: [Velkom]) is a city in the Free State province of South Africa, located about 140 kilometres (90 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital. Welkom is also known as Circle city, City Within A Garden, Mvela and Matjhabeng. The city's Sesotho name, Matjhabeng means 'where nations meet', derived from the migrant labour system, where people of various countries such as Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique etc. met to work in the mines of the gold fields.Welkom is now the second largest city in the Free State Province.

A settlement was laid out on a farm named "Welkom" (which is Afrikaans and Dutch for "welcome") after gold was discovered in the region, and officially proclaimed a town in 1948; it became a municipality in 1961.[2] It now falls in the Matjhabeng Municipality, part of the Lejweleputswa District.Welkom was officially declared a city on 14 February 1968.




Welkom hosts the offices of the mayors and councils of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality and the Lejweleputswa District Municipality.


Welkom also hosts offices of the district and regional magistrate's courts.


Notable regional offices of provincial and national government departments include:

  • Department of Labour,
  • South African Revenue Services,
  • Department of Education,
  • Department of Health,
  • Department of Agriculture,
  • South African Social Security Agency,
  • Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and
  • Department of Mineral Resources, responsible for overseeing the mining industry and exploitation of mineral resources.


Population Makeup[edit]

According to the 2011 census, Welkom had a population of 211,011 people in an area of 212.7 square kilometres (82.1 sq mi), a population density of 992.1 inhabitants per square kilometre (2,570 /sq mi).[1] 84.9% of the inhabitants described themselves as "Black African", 10.8% as "White", 3.7% as "Coloured" and 0.4% as "Indian or Asian".[1]

Population Distribution[edit]

As of 2011, the population of welkom 'proper' was 75,398 People while the Townships of Thabong and Bronville Had a population of 126,013 and 9,600 respectively. This gives the urban area a total population of 211,011 people.

Townships of Thabong and Bronville[edit]

The Townships of Thabong and Bronville have a population of approximately 150,000 people.

Greater Welkom Today[edit]

Greater Welkom, or the Matjhabeng Local Municipality in the Lejweleputswa District Municipality tallies more than 400,000 people in its administrative area.


Of those asked about their first language, 58.3% spoke Sotho, 14.6% spoke Afrikaans, 13.6% spoke Xhosa, 5.0% spoke English, 2.2% spoke Zulu, 1.9% spoke Tswana and 1.2% spoke Tsonga.[1]

History and City Design[edit]


Quite early in the history of the Republic of the Orange Free State it was hoped that minerals might be discovered and thus provide a cure for the chronic financial ills of the State. On the instructions of the Government, the well-known geologist, George William Stow, in 1878 undertook a survey of the mineral potential of the Orange Free State; his report destroyed the hopes that minerals, and especially gold, might be discovered.


Around 1896, two men, Mr Donaldson, a prospector, and Mr Hinds, an engineer, investigated a portion of the farm Zoeten-Inval[3] belonging to a Mr Barends. The pair were interested in a small outcrop of rock protruding about a 300 cm above the ground and about 600 cm in length which appeared to be conglomerate pebble reef. A 20 meter pit was excavated and samples collected. The men returned to England to have their samples analysed and form a syndicate to raise capital. Donaldson and Hinds sailed on the Drummond Castle,[4] which sank in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of France with the loss of all aboard.

South African War[edit]

A glimpse of the area is given by Colonel Deneys Reitz in his book Commando, in which he describes how, when making his way south with a boer force to join General Jan Smuts on a raid into the Cape in 1901, they passed Koppie Alleen. He wrote "a curious hill, visible for sixty miles around. As a boy I used to sit on its summit watching the game covered plains below and now as then, great herds of antelope and troops of wildebeest were grazing at its foot."[5]

The Klipdokter[edit]

After the South African war, a prospector, Arthur Megson,[3] heard of the venture. The farm had been divided up by this time, and the section on which the outcrop was situated was now called Aandenk and was owned by Hendrik Petrus Klopper. Megson arrived in 1904 and widened and deepened the original pit to about 30 meters. He took samples of the exposed strata, but could not obtain any financial interest and closed the shaft.In 1932, he presented himself at the office of Allan Roberts, a prospector, and Minnie Jacobs. Roberts had a theory "that the Witwatersrand system of rock formation tapers down to the Orange Free State, resembling the rim of a lake".

After a few days spent in the area investigating the old pit, the pair returned to Johannesburg to have new samples analysed. This job was done by Dave Milne, an analytical chemist at the University of the Witwatersrand. A Cornishman, King was enlisted, and Roberts set out on another trip to Odendaalsrus. It soon became apparent that the area would have to be tested by drilling.

Aandenk Borehole site in the 1930s

On 5 May 1933 the first borehole was started. Roberts became known as the "klipdokter" in the area and farmers were constantly bringing him chips of rock and stone for inspection, hoping that he would have good news for them. At a depth of 829 meters, the borehole penetrated lava formations into what was recognised as the Witwatersrand system and penetrated a number of gold reefs, one of which contained fair gold values.

Wits Extensions Company[edit]

The Wits Extensions Company Limited[3] with Dr. Woolf as Chairman, was formed in 1933, to carry on boring operations. Money started running out, and at 85 shillings a foot, boring would not be able to continue for much longer. All efforts to raise capital were unsuccessful, and Roberts put every last penny into the scheme. The drill, reached 1 233 meters, when the company was reluctantly compelled to stop the drill as finances were exhausted. Roberts was so poor when he died, that his friends had to pay for his funeral.

All Dr. Woolf’s efforts to obtain support from other companies and from the government had failed. Eventually, in January 1936, Dr. Hans Merensky became convinced of the importance of the discoveries in the Orange Free State. He in turn interested Sir Ernest Oppenheimer in the Aandenk borehole, and through the influence of Sir Ernest, an agreement was entered into on 1 February 1937, between the Anglo-American Corporation of South Africa Limited and Wits. Extensions Limited. A basal reef, was struck 11 years later when this borehole was deepened to 1 355 meters. Borehole prospecting was intensified over a wide area in the vicinity of Odendaalsrus and it was early in 1939 that the first high values were found in borehole No 5, sunk on what has since become the St Helena Mining Lease. By 1940, sufficient work had been done to show that a potential goldfield did in fact exist where Roberts had predicted.

While other boreholes had given results, the potential of the new goldfield became recognised when, in April 1946 a borehole known as Geduld 697, yielded gold assaying 1 252 dwts over 18,4 inch equal to 23,037 inch-dwts. The result of Geduld No 1 borehole was followed nine months later by the Geduld No 2 borehole, yielding 1 904dwts over 6,58 inch equal to 12528 inch-dwts. In the region of R6 million was spent in diamond drill boreholes to "prove" the new goldfield. On the 16th of April 1946, a rich gold find was made, on the farm, Welkom.[5]

(dwts is an abbreviation for a pennyweight, a unit of mass equal to 24 grains, 1⁄20 of a troy ounce, 1⁄240 of a troy pound and exactly 1.55517384 grammes. The pennyweight is the common weight used in the valuation and measurement of precious metals. d, for the Roman denarius, before decimalization of the British monetary system.)

Mining Camp[edit]

Thirteen separate mining properties were delimited within the area of the new goldfield. Between 1937 and 1947, an early mining community steadily grew, consisting of about 500 people at the Uitzig Camp. Six of these mines were relatively closely situated and commercial businesses started to centralise to meet demands of the mining market.

The six properties are:

  • St Helena
  • Western Holdings
  • Free State Geduld
  • Welkom Mine
  • President Brand
  • President Steyn
Uitsig Camp Building 1940-1950

The only visible remaining indication of Uitzig Camp today is utilized and maintained by the Moths Club.[6]

The City of Welkom[edit]

Planned City[edit]

Welkom officially came into being on 15 April 1947, six years after the first mining lease in the area was awarded to the St Helena Gold Mining Company, and was proclaimed a town on 23 July 1948.

Welkom is the realization of an ideal held by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer,[7] at that time Chairman of the Anglo American Corporation.[8]

Welkom Central Business District 1950

This is one of very few cities in the world which has been completely pre-planned. Oppenheimer’s instructions to Mr. William Backhouse, a town planner was that Welkom should be a town of which its occupants could be justly proud. The parks and gardens were designed by Miss Joan Pim who laid the foundation of Welkom’s reputation as a “city within a garden”.

Welkom Coat of Arms 1950 to 1990, replaced by the District Municipality Coat of Arms

In 14 February 1955, on Welkom’s 21st birthday, Welkom received city status, and celebrated this event with the opening of the Civic Centre. This building complex consists of an administrative block, a banquet hall, the Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre, and Clock Tower.

Greek Orthodox Church, Welkom

Ernest Oppenheimer Theatre[edit]

In 1961 Mrs. Marie de Plessis, wife of the administrator of the Free State at that time convinced the Anglo American Board[8] to build a fully equipped theatre rather than just a town hall. In 1964, construction started. The constructors were Lofty’s and Architects were Jake Bernett & Roy Kantorowich. The whole complex cost in the region of Rand 3 1/4 million. The wood for the foyer was imported from Austria as well as the glass tubes in the foyer and the chandelier in the auditorium.

Once again another competition was held, but this time it was for the design of the Tapestries, the theme being “birth of the arts through diamond and gold”. The two main tapestries were designed by Eleanor Esmondè White from Cape Town and woven and manufactured in France. The top foyers tapestries were designed by Cecil Scottness, also depicting Diamonds/Gold.

The theatre was officially opened on 15 February 1968 by Mrs. Martie du Plessis. The opening production was a well known Operetta “Bedelaarstudent”, lead roles were played by Gê Korsten and Leanor Veenemans.

The whole complex has copper roofing, replaced in 1999. The civic centre is built on water, the reason being that of tremors, shakes and even earthquakes are absorbed in the water. The auditorium was specifically designed round without a centre aisle and wood paneled walls for acoustic reasons. The black mahogany wood panels don’t touch the concrete wall. The upholstery and thick carpets also provide ideal sound conditions.

The pit is large enough to accommodate a full orchestra of 50 members with instruments.

Welkom Clock Tower[edit]

Visitors can climb the 196 steps of the tower and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and its surroundings. The Clock Tower houses the Welkom Publicity Association.

Municipal Main Building in Tulbagh Street
Telkom Tower Corner of Tempest and Stateway
Buiten Street looking west
MBA Forum Building in Bok Street

Traffic Circles[edit]

Welkom is well known for its efficient road traffic design mainly through the use of traffic circles, which has been the basis of world-wide studies. This is encouraged by flow design, the minimum of stop streets and the total absence of traffic lights and parking meters in the Central Business District. There is currently 33 large traffic circles.

Sub-Divisions of Welkom[edit]

  • Welkom
  • Riebeeckstad
  • Thabong
  • Bronville

Residential suburbs[edit]

24 residential suburbs each have their own shopping centre, parks, schools, and churches.

  • Rheederpark
  • West bedelia
  • Grasvlei
  • Welkom ext
  • Jim Fouche Park
  • Alma
  • Flamingo Park
  • Seemeeu Park
  • Dagbreek
  • Reitzpark
  • Stateway
  • Doorn
  • Welkom Central
  • Jan Cilliers Park
  • Naudeville
  • St Helena
  • Bedelia
  • Lake View South
  • Lake View North
  • Orangia
  • Welkom North
  • Kroonheuwel
  • Riebeeckstad
  • Sandania

In the years of segregation, the township of Thabong was established for black people and the township of Bronville for coloured people.

Industrial Areas[edit]

Industrial areas are situated at Voorspoed and Voorspoed East.

Notable Incidents[edit]

Tarred and feathered[edit]

Race relations during the decline of the Apartheid regime were particularly problematic as many Whites felt threatened by the eventuality of a regime change. Reactions to the perceived changes were often quite violent. This was the main cause of the events that transpired on the 13 May 1989, when the mayor, a Mr Gus Gouws, was tarred and feathered, after officiating at a multi-racial wheelchair marathon event. The National Party mayor, ran foul of his White constituency, when he proposed the opening of a taxi rank in the business district of Welkom.

Aggrieved residents of the city then sought to humiliate him in order to dissuade him from authorising the erection of the facility, by assaulting him and a security guard, while he was officiating at the event. Four men were arrested and charged with the assault.[9]

Pamodzi Gold[edit]

Pamodzi Gold applied for bankruptcy in 2009 even though it was sitting atop one of the richest and consistently-producing gold veins in the world. The gold mine, President Steyn, was previously owned by the Thistle Mining Co., up to February 2008, who reported a total sale of 487,069 troy ounces of gold from 2004 to 2006. In October 29, 2007, Thistle Gold Mining entered into a 'Sale of Shares and Claims Agreement' under the South African government's 'black-economic-empowerment' laws, and under which Thistle's direct and indirect interests were sold to Pamodzi Gold for $14-million. In 2010, Harmony Gold subsequently acquired President Steyn from the now liquidated Pamodzi Gold and resumed operations.[10]

Museums, Monuments and Memorials[edit]

Welkom has several monuments including:

  • Aandek Monument - This borehole memorial is shaped in the form of a key and symbolises the unlocking of the Free State goldfields.
  • Afrikaans Language Monument
    Welkom Afrikaans Language Monument
  • Joanne Pim Monument
  • WWII Monument
  • Voortrekker Memorial
    Welkom Commemoration Memorial
  • Dog Monument
  • Old Indaba Bluegum Tree
  • MOTH Memorial
  • Gold Museum - A complete history of gold and its mining and production is on display. St Helena Gold Mine is a working mine. It is possible to visit the mine and its wine cellar at 857m below surface.
  • Museum of Welkom - The public library houses a display of the discovery of gold in Welkom, the town's history and bird and animal life indigenous to this region.
  • Local Apartheid Memorial - commemorating local citizen’s contribution to the Struggle in the Apartheid years.
    Welkom Apartheid Memorial

Economy and Industry[edit]

Gold and Uranium[edit]

Welkom’s economy centres on the mining of gold and uranium and is the hub of the Free State Goldfields. Welkom has contributed 21% to the free world’s gold sales. The city and immediate surroundings are dominated by the headgears and reduction plants of several gold and uranium mining companies, including:

  • St Helena,
  • Welkom,
  • Western Holdings,
  • Free State Geduld,
  • President Brand,
  • President Steyn,
  • Erfdeel Dankbaarheid,
  • Phakisa,[11]
  • Tshepong
Harmony Phakisa shaft
Harmony Gold Mine shaft on R30
Tailings Dam on the road to Riebeeckstad

The mining of gold does not only cover the Welkom area, as gold is still being prospected in Virginia and Allanridge, Frankfort, north of Bothaville and east of Hennenman.


Welkom also has significant reserves of coal. The Theunissen coal field is located in the districts of Theunissen and Bultfontein, only some 12 km to the south of Welkom. The minable reserve covers an area of more than 23,500 hectares.[12]


Located about 7.5 km from Welkom, a kimberlite pipe, was discovered in 1890 and mined from a single shaft until the start of the Boer War in 1899. Mining continued after the war until a major aquifer, which was encountered at a depth of 259m, forced the mine to close. It was eventually re-opened by Samada Diamonds Pty Ltd and closed again in the early 1990s.

Petra Mining operated a fissure 40 km south of Welkom. The Star mine was renowned for its consistent production of high value diamonds. In 2013, Petra commenced a disposal process of its Fissure Mines portfolio. This process did not result in any acceptable offers for the mines and Star was subsequently placed into care and maintenance.

Other Industries[edit]

The key economic challenges for Welkom and Greater Matjhabeng is to absorb the jolt of the changing mining sector, maintain the existing contribution of agriculture, increase global linkages, and address inherent inequities in the economy.


Due to the declining gold price in the nineties, the manufacturing industry is being promoted as a further means to support the local economy. Heavy machinery support for mining can be found in the Voorspoed area. Various other maintenance industries and services are well founded in Welkom which include:

  • engineering,
  • mechanical repairs,


Welkom produces goods such as

Beef processing in Voorspoed, Welkom
Voorspoed Industrial Area, Welkom

Service Sector[edit]

Welkom also has a diverse Service Sector:

  • shopping, retail
  • legal
  • banking and financial
  • accounting
  • architectural and
  • medical practices.


The high water table in the north-western part of the district makes it very suitable for maize production and should remain an important maize producing area. The district is mostly covered by non-arable, moderate potential grazing land as well as marginal potential arable land.[13] The Welkom region forms part of the Maize Triangle, which stretches over three of South Africa's provinces.

Maize production near the R34 leading into Welkom

The region is also a major producer of:

  • sunflower,
  • poultry farming and
  • beef cattle.

Unique Geology[edit]

Gold Bearing Reefs[edit]

Welkom is located on the south-western corner of the Witwatersrand Basin. This basin situated on the Kaapvaal Craton,[14] is filled by a 6-kilometre thick succession of sedimentary rocks, which extends laterally for hundreds of kilometres.[15]

The De Bron Fault[edit]

The Free State Goldfields is divided into two sections,[16] cut by the north-south striking De Bron Fault. This major structure has a vertical displacement of about 1500m as well as a lateral shift of 4 km. A number of other major faults lie parallel to the De Bron Fault. Dips occur mostly towards the east, averaging 30 degrees but this becomes steeper approaching the De Bron Fault. To the east of the fault, a dip occurs towards the west at 20 degrees, although structurally complex dips of up to 40 degrees have also been measured. Between these two blocks, lies the uplifted horst block of the West Rand Group of sediments with no reef preserved.[17]

The western margin area is bound by synclines and reverse thrusts faults and is structurally complex. Towards the south and east, reefs sub-crop against overlying strata, eventually cutting out against the Karoo to the east of the area. Most of the ore resource tends to be concentrated in reef bands located on one or two distinct unconformities.

Mining has taken place as mostly deep-level underground, exploiting the narrow, generally shallow dipping tabular reefs.

Basal Reef[edit]

The Basal Reef, is the most common reef horizon. It varies from a single pebble lag to channels of more than 2m thick. It is commonly overlain by shale, which thickens northwards.

Leader Reef[edit]

The second major reef is the Leader Reef, located 15-20m above the Basal Reef. This is mostly mined at shafts to the south. Further north, it becomes poorly developed with erratic grades. The reef consists of multiple conglomerate units, separated by thin quartzitic zones, often totalling up to 4 metres thick.

A selected mining cut on the most economic horizon is often undertaken. The B Reef is a highly channelized ore-body located 140m stratigraphically above the Basal Reef. Within the channels, grades are excellent, but this falls away to nothing, outside of the channels. The A Reef is also a highly channelized reef, located some 40m above the B Reef. It consists of multiple conglomerate bands of up to 4m thick and a selected mining cut is usually required to optimise the ore-body.

Other minerals[edit]

Other than gold, coal and diamonds, the following minerals are also found in the Welkom vicinity:

Natural Disasters[edit]


Welkom lies on the Dagbreek faultline.[18]

On the 08/12/1976, at 10H38, Welkom experienced a seismic event with a magnitude of 5.2. The most significant damage caused, was the total collapse of a six storey block of flats, about 75 minutes after the event. Widespread damage to many other buildings and broken windows was experienced throughout the city. Despite extensive damage to surface and underground mining structures, only four deaths occurred.[19]

On the 26/09/1990, Welkom experienced another seismic event with a magnitude of 4.2, which resulted in two deaths and five injuries.[19]


On the 20/03/1990, Welkom was struck by a multi-vortex tornado which scowered through the suburbs. This tornado was part of a 240 km long storm front and had a width of up to 1.7 km. This weather event proved to be the most devastating recorded (financially/insurance) in South Africa to date, destroying 4000 homes.[19][20][21]


The economy of Welkom is in the process of diversification relying more on other economic sectors for sustainability:

  • One of these sectors is tourism, which, however, within the extensive and diverse geographical area of Matjhabeng constitutes a multi-faceted industry.The tourism sector forms part of a five sector development strategy for the district.
  • A distribution hub for South Africa, which would include a cargo airport, the upgrading of the R30 Welkom-Bloemfontein road and improved rail connections
  • A gold jewellery hub to add value to gold, precious and semi-precious stones
  • A unique brand of tourism applications, including events tourism, mining-orientated tourism, game farms,
  • Alternative local agricultural products to be processed before being exported to world markets
  • Development of training structures customized to meet local needs
  • Bio-fuel processing plant planned for Bothaville
  • Investigations are underway into a 75MW photovoltaic (PV) solar facility on the properties remaining extent of Farm Onverwag 728 and Portion 2 of Farm Vaalkranz 220 near Welkom. The Lebone Solar Farm development area will constitute a total laydown footprint of approximately 194ha which will include associated infrastructure such as an on-site substation, wiring between the PV mirror and the substation, internal access roads, security infrastructure and a storage area.[22]
  • Harmony is investigating an Anaerobic Treatment Plant of a NewGen Bioenergy System which will have a footprint of ± 5,000m². The effluent slurry that comes out after the required minimum digestion period (Hydraulic Retention Time) will be deposited onto an existing tailings dam. The raw biogas trapped underneath the geomembrane cover will be extracted and distributed via to the various points of use.


Welkom has a well established education system with some schools reaching their 60 years anniversary. Some prominent schools include:

Primary Schools[edit]

  • Aurora Primary
  • Welkom Preparatory School
  • Welkom Volkskool
  • Brandwag primary
  • Sandvliet Primary
  • Dagbreek Primere
  • Bedelia Primary
  • Steenwyk Primary
  • The Prairie Primary
  • Welkom Islamic Primary
  • Koppie Alleen Primary
  • Maryland International College
  • Naudeville Primary
  • St Helena Primary
  • President Brand Primary
  • Reitzpark Primary
  • Rheederpark Primary
  • Riebeeckstad Primary
  • Ebenpan Primary
  • Western Holdings Primary
  • Adamsonvlei Primary
  • Eagles Christian Primary
  • Dunamis Christian Primary
  • Vierhoek Primary
  • st Dominic's college
  • st Andrew's primary
  • Edmund Rice Primary
  • Polokong Primary
  • Paballong Primary
  • Iketsetseng Primary
  • Tsakani Primary
  • Tseolopele Primary
  • Dirisanang Primary
  • Mojaho Primary
  • Seabo Primary
  • Bofihla Primary
  • Daluvuyo Primary
  • Lehakwe
  • Mokgwabong
  • Lemotso
  • Dr. Mgoma
  • Dirisanang
  • Iketsetseng
  • Moremaphofu
  • Njala Primary
  • Embunizweni
  • Thabong school
  • Tswelopele
  • Setshabelo
  • Hlolohelo
  • Lenyora
  • Thembekile
  • Mantshebo
  • Seabo
  • Bronville

Secondary and High Schools[edit]

  • St Andrews - established in 1963
  • St Dominics College
  • Welkom High - established in 1954[23]
  • Welkom Gymnasium-established in 1953
  • Welkom Hoër
  • Welkom Islamic
  • Edmund Rice Combined
  • Adamsonvlei Combined
  • Eagles Christian Combined
  • Dunamis Christian
  • Viehoek Combined
  • Riebeeckstad Hoër
  • Goudveld Hoër[24]
  • Unitas
  • Leseding Technical School
  • Riebeeckstad High
  • Kingdom Academic
  • Edu-College
  • Rheederpark High
  • Welkom Secondary
  • Paballong Combined
  • Bronville High
  • Lenakeng Comprehensive
  • Lebokgang Secondary
  • Thotagauta Secondary
  • Lekgarietse Secondary
  • Teto High
  • Lephola Secondary
  • Letsete Secondary
  • Nanabolela Secondary
  • Welkom Technical High(H.T.S) - established in 1961

Special-needs Schools[edit]

  • Amari for mentally handicapped and
  • St Vincenzo School for the Deaf
  • Orion

Tertiary level[edit]

  • Welkom Technical College
  • Welkom Technological Institute
  • Welkom Nursing College
  • FET College Goldfields - geared towards employment opportunities[25]
  • Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) satellite campus - is also situated in Welkom. CUT’s core competencies are in science, engineering, and technology.[26]
Campus of the Central University of Technology



Welkom is connected to Kroonstad and the N1 north via the R34, a dual carriageway. Alternatively if driving south to Bloemfontein via the R30 through Brandfort.


There is a goods rail link with Hennenman to the main Johannesburg – Bloemfontein line and a direct train to Johannesburg.


Welkom is served by a small airport and a branch of the main railway between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Magnum Airlines and Comair have flights daily between Welkom and Johannesburg.



Welkom’s most notable sport feature is the ultra-modern multi-million Rand Phakisa Raceway situated between Welkom and Odendaalsrus, which has been a venue for many international events and draws global media coverage. Phakisa is an international standard, multi-purpose motor sport facility. The track boasts a 4,24 km road course as well as a 2,4 km banked oval track similar to the highly acclaimed Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada and is considered to be 3rd best in the world.

Phakisa Raceway hosts a stage of the FIM Superbike World Championship.[27]

Phakisa Raceway


Harmony F.C.'s homeground is the Zuka Baloyi Stadium, a multi-sport facility, that is currently mostly used for soccer.


The Griffons Rugby Union[28] was formed in 1968 when the late Dr Danie Craven, then the President of SA Rugby spread the game to rural areas in South Africa, Welkom was one of four new provinces formed and called North-Free State.

Hang gliding[edit]

Welkom's airport is also used on a regular basis for hang gliding championships on a National and International basis.


  • Oppenheimer Golf Course
  • Western Holdings Golf Course
  • Flamingo Golf Course

Stadia and other Sports facilities[edit]

The city also has excellent facilities and clubs for Tennis, Cricket, Hockey, Squash, Bowls, Archery and Swimming.

Shopping and Retail[edit]

  • Goldfields Mall
  • Welkom Square
  • Liberty Centre
  • Shoprite Centre
  • Pick n Pay Centre
  • Checkers Centre
  • Boxer Super Store Centre
  • OK Shopping Centre
Inside the Goldfields Mall
Buiten street view of Goldfields Mall
Welkom Square in Long Road
Shoprite Centre, Arrarat Road, Welkom CBD
Heeren street east, Welkom CBD


Recreation and Tourism[edit]


  • Central Park
  • Peter Pan Park
  • Van Riebeeck Park
  • West Park



Welkom normally receives about 401mm to 550mm of rain per year, dependent on wet or dry cycles, with most rainfall occurring mainly during mid summer. It receives the lowest rainfall (0mm) in July and the highest (70mm) in January. The monthly distribution of average daily maximum temperatures ranges from 17 °C in June to 29 °C in January. The region is the coldest during July when the mercury drops to 0 °C on average during the night.

Annual Average Climatological Data for Welkom

|source 1 = climate data .org[29]

Natural Features[edit]

Koppie Alleen is the only hill near Welkom and therefore is aptly named for its odditity. The terrain elevation above sea level is 1435 metres.

Koppie Alleen

The largest water catchment is the Sand River to the south-east of Welkom in Virginia’s direction. Large saline pans such as Flamingo Pan and Theronia Pan are situated to the south-west of Welkom. Flamingo Pan is coded as an Important Bird Area (IBA)[30]


Welkom is situated on two vegetation units, the Western Free State Clay Grassland and Vaal-Vet Sandy Grassland, these are differentiated by soil types, rainfall and frost.[31]

Grassland with sporadic bush[edit]

The dominant grass species are Hyparrhenia hirta, Themeda triandra, Sporobolus pyramidalis, Eragrostis sp, Aristida sp, and other grasses and herbs. Trees and shrubs are infrequent due to heavy frost in the winter months.

Mixed sweetthorn bush/grassland typical of Welkom ecology

Birds of Welkom[edit]

There are over 200 bird species listed. These include lesser Flamingos, White-faced Whistling Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Cattle Egret, Black Kite, Guineafowl, Black-bellied Bustard, Hadada Ibis, various Herons, Blacksmith Plover, Crowned Plover, Rock Dove, Speckled Pigeon, Red-eyed Turtle Dove, Ring-necked Dove, Laughing Dove, Barn Owl, Grass Owl, White-backed Mousebird, Red-faced Mousebird, White Helmet-shrike, Scaly-fronted Weaver, African Masked Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Southern Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Long-tailed Widowbird, and surprisingly, Gulls.

Flamingos over Lakeview

Mammals of Welkom[edit]

The grasslands surrounding Welkom also include small mammal communities of Yellow Mongoose, Ground Squirrel, Cape Porcupine, African Mole-rat, Pouched Mouse, Large-eared Mouse, Four-stripe Grass Mouse, and Multimammate Mouse.

Insects of Welkom[edit]

Insect life is varied, grassland butterflies include the African Monarch, African Migrant, the Brown-veined White, the Citrus Swallowtail, the Common Diadem, the Garden Acraea, the African Leopard, the Joker, Blue and Yellow Pansies, Painted Lady, the Common Black-eye, the Zebra Blue, the Zebra White, Orange-Tip, African Veined White, Clouded Yellow, and the Broad-bordered Grass Yellow.

Cynthia cardui

Fossils of Matjhabeng[edit]

A 2007 paleontological study done in greater Matjhabeng began a programme of excavation of an early Pliocene locality. With an estimated age of 4.0-3.5 Ma, the locality also represents the only well-documented, river-deposited Pliocene locality in the central interior of southern Africa. After three years of excavation, a diverse fauna that includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals was recovered. Mammals ranged in size from rodents to mammoths, including an array of proboscideans, perissodactyls and artiodactyls, alongside rare carnivores.

In total, 29 taxa, including the oldest Ancylotherium and Megalotragus fossils in southern Africa were recovered. Some of the taxa from Matjhabeng are shared with Langebaanweg, and others with Makapansgat, confirming the intermediate status of this locality. Isotopic analysis revealed the earliest indication of extensive grasslands in South Africa, though these grasslands were part of an environmental mosaic that included significant woodland, and probable wetland, components.[32]

Nature Reserves[edit]

The De Rust Private Nature Reserve[33] is situated about 25 km from Welkom on the Kroonstad road and is registered with the Free State Department of Nature Conservation.

Hospitals and Medical Care[edit]

Welkom hosts a number of public and private hospitals as well as several specialised clinics:

  • Bongani Regional Hospital (Public)
  • Ernest Oppenheimer Hospital (Semi-private)
  • Goudveld Regional Hospital
  • Mediclinic Welkom (Private)[34]
  • St Helena Hospital (Private)

Various hospices also exist.[35] Thabong and Bronville also host various primary care clinics.

Welkom Mediclinic in Meulin Street

Bongani Regional Hospital[edit]

Bongani provides specialized secondary services and admits patients referred by Primary Health Care Institutions from surrounding towns and District Hospitals. Services include:

  • 24 hour casualty service
  • Level 2 adult and child care
  • Maternity
  • Paediatrics
  • Theatre
  • Neonatal ICU and ICU
  • Radiography
  • Medical and Surgical ward
  • Othopaedics
  • Septic ward
  • Burns unit
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Dispensary
  • Physiotherapy
  • Social Worker
  • Speech and Hearing therapy
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Psychology
  • Renal unit
  • Dental
  • Occupational Health
  • Tsoanelo (ARV Treatment)

Other facilities include:

  • Academic Health Complex
  • Welkom Satellite
  • Pilot project site for academic medical training registrars in conjunction with the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the Free State.

Print Media[edit]

The most notable local print media include weekly newspapers such as the;

  • Vista[19]
  • Forum
  • Enthooz, a monthly magazine

Notable people[edit]


Rugby Union[edit]





  • Lieschen Botes - International model.


  • Sechaba - Gospel musician.


  • Rev Stephen Brislin - Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town, born in Welkom on 24 September 1956.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sum of the following Main Places from Census 2011: Hani Park, Riebeeckstad, Thabong, Welkom.
  2. ^ Raper, P. E. (0947042067). Dictionary of South African Place Names. Lowry Publishers. p. 470. 
  3. ^ a b c 9/2/328/0001 | SAHRA
  4. ^ http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?84949
  5. ^ a b Welkom, Felstar Publishers, second floor Argent House, Loveday Street South, first impression 1968
  6. ^ Gregory, T.E. Ernest Oppenheimer and the economic development of Southern Africa, Oxford University Press 1963 New York(OCoLC)635659231
  7. ^ Jessup, E. Ernest Oppenheimer: a study in power, Collings, London 1979 (OCoLC)570661204
  8. ^ a b Anglo American – History
  9. ^ Mayor of Welkom, in the Free State, is tarred and feathered | South African History Online
  10. ^ Pamodzi gold trail leads to Solly, Fazel Bhana | News | National | Mail & Guardian
  11. ^ Harmony | Home
  12. ^ McCarthy, T. S. Pretorius, J. P. Coal mining on the Highveld and its implications for future water quality in the Vaal River system, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand
  13. ^ http://www.ard.fs.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/LEJWELEPUTSWA-PROFILE.pdf
  14. ^ James, D.E. Niu, F. Rokosky, J. Crustal structure of the Kaapvaal craton and its significance for early crustal evolutiona, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 5241 Department of Earth Science, Rice University, Houston, TX 77251, USA
  15. ^ Phillips G.N. Widespread fluid infiltration during metamorphism of the Witwatersrand goldfields: generation of chloritoid and pyrophyllite, Department of Geology, University of the Witwatersrand, 1988
  16. ^ Dwyer, G. The geology of the Welkom Goldfields with special reference to the A, B and Beatrix reefs, Rhodes University, 1993
  17. ^ Mineral resources and mineral reserves 2013 | Free State operations
  18. ^ Bradford P. S., Numerical modelling and seismic monitoring on a large normal fault in the Welkom goldfields, South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, 1997 775695165
  19. ^ a b c d Vista News
  20. ^ Goliger A.M. Retief J.V. Severe wind phenomena in Southern Africa and the related damage Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 95 (2007) 1065–1078
  21. ^ Grobler R A framework for modelling losses arising from natural catastrophes in South Africa, University of Pretoria July 1996
  22. ^ Lebone Solar Farm - HIA | SAHRA
  23. ^ Welkom High School
  24. ^ Goudveld Webwerf
  25. ^ Welcome to the Goldfields FET College
  26. ^ Central University of Technology, Thinking BeyondCentral University of Technology, Thinking Beyond
  27. ^ Events | Superbike | World Championships | Sport | Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme
  28. ^ Griffons | Home Page
  29. ^ "Welkom Climate". climate data. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  30. ^ CWAC | Registered CWAC sites listing
  31. ^ Low, A.B. & Rebelo, A.G. (eds.) 1996. Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland . Pretoria: DEAT. This publication is available online at http://www.ngo.grida.no/soesa/nsoer/Data/vegrsa/vegstart.htm
  32. ^ D.J.; Brophy, J.K.; Lewis, P.J.; Kennedy, A.M.; Stidham, T.A.; Carlson, K.B.; Hancox, P. John, 2010: Preliminary investigation of Matjhabeng, a Pliocene fossil locality in the Free State of South Africa. Palaeontologia Africana 45
  33. ^ De Rust Private Nature Reserve Homepage
  34. ^ Mediclinic Welkom
  35. ^ Nhiwatiwa, R; Sepitla, C; Free State Outcome of hospital-based TB in the Goldfields area, South African Medical Journal; Vol 94, No 4 (2004)
  36. ^ Shuttleworth Foundation - Shuttleworth Foundation