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Brandfort is located in Free State (South African province)
 Brandfort shown within Free State
Brandfort is located in South Africa
Brandfort (South Africa)
Brandfort is located in Africa
Brandfort (Africa)
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%
Time zone UTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street) 9400
PO box 9400
Area code 051
Website Official website

Brandfort is a small agricultural town in the central Free State province of South Africa, about 60 km northeast of Bloemfontein. The town serves 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. 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.


The town 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 the settlement was named in his honour shortly afterwards. Brandfort was later proclaimed a town in 1874.[3]


Main sites[edit]

Brandfort concentration camp
Angel statue in front of Dutch Reformed Church in Brandfort

Concentration camps[edit]

Concentration camps, derived from the Spanish word “concentrade”, were first used in Cuba in 1896 by General Butcher Weyler.[4] Half a million Cuban civilians were rounded up and incarcerated in fortified villages in which about 100 000 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. Malnutrition 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 Whites 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.[7]

Banishment house of Winnie Mandela[edit]

Winnie Mandela (politician, liberation struggle stalwart and former wife of the late Nelson Mandela) was banished to 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 it into a museum. Yet, since 1994

these plans has only lead to corrupt tenders on the part of the corrupt ANC government. The site has not received any maintenance

or development.

Other sites[edit]

Other monuments and heritage sites

Florisbad archaeological and palaeontological site

The Florisbad archaeological and paleontological site lies about 46km west of Brandfort and the site was declared as a National Monument (now a Provincial Heritage Site) in 1997. The Florisbad Skull, an early hominid from the Middle Stone Age, was found here.[10]

Vice-Admiral Weston’s home

The first aeroplane built in Africa was built in Brandfort on property owned by Vice-Admiral Weston. The house has been turned into a restaurant and tourist attraction with the history of the Vice-Admiral and Brandfort.[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.[11]

Angel statue

This statue stands prominently in front of the Dutch Reformed Church. It commemorates the Boer women and children (and also farm workers) who died in the Brandfort concentration camps during the South African War.[12]


The town's economy is dwindling and it is just a ghost town to what it was before 1994. Brandfort was a very neat town, known for its good schools, many professional inhabitants and businesses, agricultural co-operations, good community health services, social support structures, quality sport and recreational facilities, caravan park, hotel and water reservoir. The current state of maintenance of these facilities is evident to every tourist: The museums and monuments are deteriorating and no plan is envisaged to save them for future generations.

The majority of the people are solely financially supported by the government grants funded by the taxpayer for the poor. There are only full time employment opportunities for about 3% of the people. The ANC government did no investment into rural towns to create employment opportunities since 1994 which is a great burden for the taxpayer.


  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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b "Brandfort Attractions". Free State Tourism. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  12. ^ "Brandfort". Showme Community websites. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 

External links[edit]