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For the town in Mpumalanga, see Botshabelo, Mpumalanga.
Botshabelo is located in Free State (South African province)
 Botshabelo shown within Free State
Coordinates: 29°13′59″S 26°43′59″E / 29.23306°S 26.73306°E / -29.23306; 26.73306Coordinates: 29°13′59″S 26°43′59″E / 29.23306°S 26.73306°E / -29.23306; 26.73306
Country South Africa
Province Free State
Municipality Mangaung
Established 1979
 • Total 103.98 km2 (40.15 sq mi)
Elevation 1,423 m (4,669 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 181,712
 • Density 1,700/km2 (4,500/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 99.2%
 • Coloured 0.3%
 • Indian/Asian 0.2%
 • White 0.1%
 • Other 0.2%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Sotho 84.5%
 • Xhosa 7.6%
 • English 2.0%
 • Afrikaans 1.6%
 • Other 4.3%
Postal code (street) 9781
PO box 9781
Area code (+27) 51

Botshabelo, meaning "a place of refuge", is a large black settlement set up by the then apartheid government 45 km east of Bloemfontein, Free State province, South Africa. Population is mainly composed of people speaking Southern Sotho and Xhosa.


As many people moved away from the farms in the Free State, they looked for places to stay in the region of Thaba Nchu, another homeland under the old Bophutatswana government.[2][3]

The policy governing Bophutatswana at the time clearly stated that Bophutatswana belongs to those who are of Tswana tribe. As a result, all other tribes, mainly Sotho and Xhosa, were housed at a squatter camp named “Kromdraai”. Kromdraai was initiated by a man who was only referred to as "Khoza". He was selling a stand for only 50 cents around the year of 1976.

Later on the government of Bophutatswana started to strongly condemn the development of that area and worked hard through their police force during the day and night, striving to dispatch everybody living in the region and who is not a Tswana. As the pressure mounted for the people of Kromdraai, Khoza fled and he was no longer to be seen.

In 1979, the then Prime Minister of QwaQwa, Kenneth Mopeli together with the apartheid government found a place for all the people of Kromdraai at a farm called Onverwacht. All the people who were not Tswana started to move to Onverwacht for free, and later on when they started to settle in the area paid ZAR80 for a stand. Late in 1980 to early 1981 the name Onverwacht started to disappear and people started to call their place by the name of Botshabelo, this name given by Julius Nkoko.


Botshabelo is one of the towns that have produced soccer players for the Premier Soccer League (PSL) especially for Celtics such as Madidilane, Ditheko Mototo, the late Abram Raselemane, Ntho Moshe, Motseothata November, Ace Gulwa, Lefu Nyapuli, Teboho Salemane and others.


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Botshabelo". Census 2011. 
  2. ^ Murray, Colin (1987). "Displaced Urbanization: South Africa's Rural Slums". African Affairs (Oxford University Press) 86 (344): 311–329. JSTOR 722745. 
  3. ^ Tomlinson, Richard; Krige, Skip (1997). "Botshabelo: Coping With the Consequences of Urban Apartheid". International Journal of Urban and Regional Research (international journal of urban and regional research) 21 (4): 691–705. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.00109.