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Street in Empangeni
Street in Empangeni
Empangeni is located in KwaZulu-Natal
 Empangeni shown within KwaZulu-Natal
Empangeni is located in South Africa
Empangeni (South Africa)
Empangeni is located in Africa
Empangeni (Africa)
Coordinates: 28°45′S 31°54′E / 28.750°S 31.900°E / -28.750; 31.900Coordinates: 28°45′S 31°54′E / 28.750°S 31.900°E / -28.750; 31.900
Country South Africa
Province KwaZulu-Natal
District King Cetshwayo
Municipality uMhlathuze
Established 1851
 • Total 154.47 km2 (59.64 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 110,340
 • Density 710/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 91.3%
 • Coloured 0.8%
 • Indian/Asian 1.7%
 • White 5.9%
 • Other 0.2%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Zulu 84.5%
 • English 7.9%
 • Afrikaans 3.6%
 • S. Ndebele 1.3%
 • Other 2.7%
Time zone UTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street) 3880
PO box 3880
Area code 035

Empangeni is a town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is approximately 157 kilometres north of Durban, situated in hilly countryside, overlooking a flat coastal plain and the major harbour town of Richards Bay only 16 kilometres away. The N2 freeway runs just east from Empangeni intersecting the John Ross Highway (R34) which connects Empangeni and Richards Bay.

The climate is sub-tropical with an average temperature of 28.4 °C in summer and 14.5 °C in Winter. The town is said, by local residents, to not have a real winter, as temperatures are seldom very low.


Empangeni has five high schools, Empangeni High School, St Catherine's Empangeni (a Catholic convent), Old Mill High School, Richem Secondary and Felixton College. The town also has four primary schools, Grantham Park, Heuwelland, Empangeni Preparatory School and Empangeni Christian School, which is overseen and run by Victory Family Church.

The main campus of the University of Zululand[2] lies a short drive to the south and The Owen Sitole College of Agriculture to the north.


Empangeni is home to a number of well-known Christian Churches, such as Christian Family Church, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Empangeni Methodist Church, AGS Empangeni, Victory Family Church, Full Gospel Church, Lutheran Church, Solid Ground Church, Empangeni Baptist Church, Uniting Reformed Church (Dutch), the Catholic Church, Holy cross and St Thomas in Felixton.

Notable Citizens[edit]

Empangeni is the birthplace of star tennis player Ian Vermaak,[3] Ruve Robertson, who is now married to Hollywood actor Neal McDonough, cricketer Kyle Abbott and Bradley G. Patterson, author of The Burden of Jonah Blondel.

Local Media[edit]

Empangeni's local news media is covered by The Zululand Observer.[4]

Empangeni's local radio is Icora FM.[5] Indonsakusa Community Radio commonly known as ICORA FM is a community radio based at Empangeni the Northern part of Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is registered as a non-profit company. Its structure has 7 board members, management that consists of the Station Manager, Marketing Manager, Human Resource & Admin Manager and Production/ Programs Manager. The idea of forming this radio station was born out of the conviction that the station would stimulate and guide the communities to action. Some programs that are being broadcast are teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, child abuse, drug addictions, youth and social development issued to name a few.


In 1851, the Norwegian Missionary Society established a mission station on the banks of the eMpangeni river. The river was named after the profusion of Mpange trees (Trema guineensis) growing along its banks. The mission was later moved to Eshowe, 61 kilometres north-west. In 1894 a magistracy was established. The Zululand Railway reached the town in January 1903 and linked the area to Durban and Eshowe. The government planted eucalyptus trees in 1905 as part of an experimental timber plantation. The plantation was a success and led to a large scale planting along the coastal belt. In 1906 Empangeni became a village.[6] Rapid expansion began when a sugar mill was erected at Felixton. The establishment of the Empangeni Sugar Mill set the area on the road to rapid development. Empangeni was officially proclaimed as a township on 15 January 1931 and declared a borough on 13 October 1960.[citation needed]

Simon Mpungose - The Hammer Man[edit]

For nearly a year in 1983 and 1984, the town was terrorized by 35-year-old Simon Mpungose, who was called the "Hammer Man" because he would break into homes in the dead of night and kill the occupants with a hammer before robbing them of their money and jewels.[7][8] In December 1983, he killed Graham and Margaretha Macaskill, both prison officers, and in February the following year he killed Justin and Terri Smith. When he was brought to trial in November 1984, the court was told that he had attacked many other people during violent robberies – a report which was lost on Mpungose because he slept through the entire proceedings.

Mr. Justice Broome could find no extenuating circumstances, noting that Mpungose covered his hands with socks during the robberies to avoid leaving fingerprints. The fact that the defendant was a psychopath was not a mitigating factor in law. He sentenced him to hang, whereupon Mpungose threw his blue tracksuit into the public gallery, shouted, and threatened to expose his penis to the court, until he was restrained with handcuffs.

He was hanged a year later, on Friday, November 29th, 1985, in Pretoria.

Ngwelezane Township[edit]

Ngwelezane is a township on the outskirts of Empangeni.[9] The township is home to the Ngwelezane Hospital,[10] which services the area with 554 beds.


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Empangeni". Census 2011. 
  2. ^ "UNIZULU – Main Campus | The University of Zululand". www.unizulu.ac.za. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  3. ^ "Ian Vermaak Profile". International Tennis Federation. Retrieved 23 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Zululand Observer Team in Empangeni". Zululand Observer. Retrieved 2015-08-30. 
  5. ^ "Icora FM". Retrieved 2018-02-27. 
  6. ^ "Empangeni history - Empangeni information - Empangeni tourist attractions - Empangeni tourist destinations - Empangeniaccommodation - Kwa Zulu-Natal - KZN - Zululand". www.kznnorthhappenings.co.za. Retrieved 2015-08-30. 
  7. ^ "November 29th Simon Mpungose – South Africa 29/11/1985". truecrimelibrary.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2015-09-14. 
  8. ^ Singh, Orrin (December 5, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE: I survived 'The Hammerman'". Zululand Observer. Retrieved October 7, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Residents feel 'ripped off' by KZN municipality", eNCA, 10 August 2013
  10. ^ "Ngwelezane Hospital", KZN Department of Health, 04 August, 2015

External links[edit]

Media related to Empangeni at Wikimedia Commons