Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

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Ladysmith central business district
Ladysmith central business district
Ladysmith is located in KwaZulu-Natal
Ladysmith is located in South Africa
Coordinates: 28°33′35″S 29°46′50″E / 28.55972°S 29.78056°E / -28.55972; 29.78056Coordinates: 28°33′35″S 29°46′50″E / 28.55972°S 29.78056°E / -28.55972; 29.78056
CountrySouth Africa
MunicipalityAlfred Duma
 • Total84.13 km2 (32.48 sq mi)
 • Total64,855
 • Density770/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African73.3%
 • Indian/Asian15.0%
 • White8.3%
 • Coloured2.9%
 • Other0.5%
First languages (2011)
 • Zulu64.3%
 • English22.8%
 • Afrikaans6.3%
 • Sotho2.2%
 • Other4.5%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
PO box
Area code036

Ladysmith is a city in the Uthukela District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It lies 230 kilometres (140 mi) north-west of Durban and 365 kilometres (227 mi) south-east of Johannesburg. Important industries in the area include food processing, textiles, and tyre production.

Ladysmith is the seat for both the Alfred Duma Local Municipality and Uthukela District Municipality.

In 1900, the unincorporated town of Oyster Harbour (established c. 1898) on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, was renamed Ladysmith by James Dunsmuir, in honour of the British lifting the siege of Ladysmith in South Africa (28 February 1900) during the Second Boer War.


In 1847, after buying land from the Zulu king Mpande, a number of Boers settled in the area and called it the Republic of Klip River with Andries Spies as their commandant. The republic was annexed by the British in the same year and on 20 June 1850 was proclaimed a township called Windsor.[3] On 11 October 1850, the name was changed to Ladysmith after Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith, also known as "Lady Smith," the Spanish wife of Sir Harry Smith, the Governor of the Cape Colony[3] and high commissioner in South Africa from 1847 to 1852.[4]

A fort was built in 1860[3] to protect the villagers from the Zulu.

The Second Boer War[edit]

The town hall during the siege in 1900, with Boer artillery damage to the bell tower

Battle of Ladysmith[edit]

During the Second Boer War, British commander Lieutenant General Sir George White made Ladysmith his centre of operations for the protection of Natal against the Boer forces.[5] Starting on 29 October 1899, a number of short-lived battles were fought for control of the town, but after suffering heavy casualties the British forces retreated to Ladysmith and the Boer forces did not make use of the opportunity to follow up the attack and take control of the town.

Siege of Ladysmith[edit]

Following the Battle of Ladysmith, while British forces under White regrouped in the town, Boer forces surrounded Ladysmith. The siege lasted 118 days, from 2 November 1899 to 28 February 1900, during the most crucial stage of the war.[6] Approximately 3,000 British soldiers died during the siege.

Relief of Ladysmith[edit]

Three attempts by General Sir Redvers Buller to break the siege resulted in defeat for the British forces at the battles of Colenso, Spion Kop and Vaal Krantz. On 6 January 1900, the Boer forces of Commandant-General Piet Joubert attempted to end the siege by taking the town before the British could launch another attempt to break the siege. This led to the battle of Platrand (or Wagon Hill) south of the town.

Buller finally broke the siege on 28 February 1900 after defeating the Boers by using close cooperation between his infantry and artillery.

Winston Churchill, then a young war correspondent for The Morning Post of London, was present at the relief of Ladysmith after having been taken prisoner (between Ladysmith and Colenso) and escaping earlier during the war.[7][8][9]

Mohandas Gandhi, along with the stretcher-bearing corps that he had established earlier during the war, was involved in a number of actions that took place in and around Ladysmith during the relief.[10]

Military units involved in the siege and relief[edit]


Windsor Dam

Ladysmith is located on the banks of the Klip River ("stone river"), with the central business district and a large part of the residential areas located within the flood basin of the river. It is on the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains, about 26 km from the Van Reenen's Pass.


Since it was established the town has suffered severely from flooding of the Klip River. During the 110 years up to 1997 with the completion of the Qedusizi Dam,[12] 29 serious floods occurred.[13] Minor flooding occurred almost every year.

The worst flooding in 30 years occurred in 1996 leading to R500 million in damages and the evacuation of 400 families.[14] Efforts to control the flooding date back to the 1940s. In 1949 the Windsor Dam was completed, but this dam silted up very quickly and was not an effective means of flood control.[13]

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: SA Explorer


Ladysmith has a subtropical highland climate (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification), with warm summers and cool, dry winters. It borders on a humid subtropical climate (Cwa). The average annual precipitation is 639 mm (25 in), with most rainfall occurring during summer.



Soofi Mosque

The Soofi Mosque on the banks of the Klip River was built some time between 1895 and 1910, but it was greatly extended in the 1960s.[15][16]

Other buildings of interest are the Siege Museum, built in 1884 as a marketplace[17] and the Town Hall, damaged by Boer artillery during the Second Boer War.



Ladysmith is served by a small airport, (IATA: LAY, ICAO: FALY) is located on the outskirts of town just below Platrand at 28°34′48″S 29°45′10″E / 28.58000°S 29.75278°E / -28.58000; 29.75278 (Ladysmith Aerodrome). The Aerodrome is managed and operated by JetVision Holdings Pty Ltd.


Ladysmith railway station

The Danskraal Yard is located on the Free State main line and the GlencoeVryheid line and acts as a depot for train marshalling and maintenance as well as rail maintenance.[18]

The passenger station is located some distance away from Danskraal close to the Central Business District.


The N11 links Ladysmith with Bergville and Newcastle, while the R103 provides access to Colenso, KwaZulu-Natal and the N3.

Traffic traveling between Durban and Johannesburg used to pass through Ladysmith up until the late 1980s, but the completion of the N3, bypassing Ladysmith 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the west, has caused a dramatic drop in traffic volumes through this town as well as others that are now bypassed.[19]



  • Acaciavale Primary School
  • Aloe Park Primary School.
  • Amancamakazane Primary School
  • Andante Independent School
  • Baldaskraal Primary School
  • Blue Bank primary
  • Burford Primary School
  • Damu Junior primary school
  • Douglas Primary School
  • Egerton
  • Good Hope Primary School
  • Gqama Senior School
  • Hamilton Preparatory School
  • Hollywood Primary School
  • Hursley Primary School
  • Ifalethu Primary School
  • Imbizo Primary School
  • Incwaba Junior Primary School
  • Ingcebo Yesizwe Primary
  • Inkuthu Primary School
  • Insungulu Lower Primary School
  • Isiqophamithi Primary School
  • Islamic Educational Centre
  • Keate Street Primary School
  • Kirkintulloch Combined school
  • Kleinfontein Primary School
  • Limit Hill Combined
  • Mabhumane Primary School
  • Madlala Combined Primary School
  • MC Varman Primary School
  • Mcitsheni Junior Primary School
  • Mhlanganyelwa Combined school
  • ML Sultan
  • Mnambithi Primary
  • Monument Primary School
  • Namakazi Combined Primary School
  • Nikela Primary School
  • Peace Town Combined School
  • Sidingulwazi Primary School
  • St. Chad's Primary School
  • Umbulwane Primary
  • Umvulo Primary School
  • Veyisi Primary School


  • Bhekintuthuko Secondary School
  • Dr Joseph Shabalala secondary School
  • Ekukhuleni High School
  • Emhlwaneni High School
  • Entonjeni High School
  • Ezakheni High School (Junior)
  • Harvest High School
  • Hlope Secondary
  • Indakane High School
  • Ingula High School
  • Intababusuku Secondary
  • Intandoyesizwe High School
  • Islamic Educational Centre
  • Ladysmith High School (LHS)
  • Ladysmith Secondary (LASEC)
  • Limehill Junior High School
  • Limit Hill Combined
  • Masoyi Secondary School
  • Maweni High School
  • Mbango High School
  • Mhlwaneni high school
  • Mzimela High School
  • Ndalela High School
  • Ndalela High School
  • Phayikeni High School
  • Qophindlela Secondary
  • Sakhelwe High School
  • Sgweje High School
  • Sicelokuhle High School
  • Silindokuhle Secondary School
  • Siphimfundo Secondary
  • St. Chad's High School
  • Steadville High School
  • Tatane Secondary
  • Uxolo Nokuzwana secondary
  • Windsor Secondary School

Special schools[edit]


  • Boston City Campus
  • Mnambithi FET College is a public college offering Further Education & Training.
  • Qualitas Career Academy caters for full-time and part-time studies for students as well as corporate training and consulting services for businesses and government departments. There are a variety of academic divisions.

Society and culture[edit]


The only sold local newspaper in Ladysmith is the Ladysmith Gazette. The Ladysmith Gazette is believed to have been established in 1902. The Ladysmith Gazette is part of the Caxton Group of newspapers. One of two free local newspapers is the Ladysmith Herald.[20] The other free newspaper is the Times of Ladysmith.

Museums, monuments and memorials[edit]

The Second Boer War[edit]

A large number of the Second Boer War Battlefields around Ladysmith have been preserved as memorial sites. Monuments and memorials to those who died during the battles have been erected at most of them.

Siege museum[edit]

Located next to the town hall there is a small museum detailing the battles and history at the time of the Siege. The museum was opened in 1985 and holds around 60,000 documents related to the Siege and Boer War.[21]

Imperial Light Horse Memorial on Platrand
Platrand/Wagon Hill[edit]
The Burgher Memorial

Located just south of the town, this area saw action during the Relief of Ladysmith. The Burgher Memorial on Wagon Hill was erected in honour of Boer forces killed during the siege and relief of Ladysmith.[22]

On Platrand there are memorials to the Imperial Light Horse, the Devonshire Regiment, the Earl of Ava and a number of others.

Castor and Pollux[edit]
Castor and Pollox in front of the Town Hall

Two RML 6.3 inch Howitzers used by the British during the Siege stand in front of the Town Hall.

Mohandas Gandhi statue[edit]

A statue of Mohandas Gandhi can be seen at the Lord Vishnu Temple.


Ladysmith is the hometown of Joseph Shabalala, founder of the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.[23]


Thulani "Sugar Boy" Malinga, a champion boxer, was born in Ladysmith.[24]

Elmer Symons, Dakar Rally rider, was killed in the 2007 edition while leading the Marathon class.

Diyo Sibisi, soccer player, was born in Sahlumbe, under Uthukela district in KwaZulu Natal.

Thamsanqa Gabuza, soccer player, plays for Orlando Pirates, was born in Ladysmith.


Christianity has a strong presence in and around Ladysmith. It can be seen through the beautiful places of worship built around the time of the Anglo Boer wars. One such structure includes the Anglican All Saints Church, built in 1902 from cut flagstones from a quarry in the area.

Islam also has a strong presence in the town, which is well known for the Soofie Mosque and its astounding architecture. Built in 1969, it is regarded as one of the finest in the country. The origins of the marvellous structure date back to 1895 when Hazrath Soofie Saheb arrived in South Africa. He made it his mission to build as many as 12 mosques along the east coast of Durban. Ladysmith was also the home of a revered saint known as Hazrath Soofie Sayed Mahomed Abed Mia Osmani, who is buried in the Ladysmith Muslim Cemetery.

Hinduism. In 1902, Sanathan Dharma Sabha was inaugurated to promote religious, social, cultural and education activities in Ladysmith. The oldest Hindu temple resulted from the amalgamation of Hindu Thirukootam (1910) with the Shree Ganaser Temple and hall erected in 1916. It was declared a national monument in November 1990.

The present site of the SDS temple (Sanathan Dharma Sabha aka Lord Vishnu Temple) also housed Mahatma Gandhi who established a non-White Stretcher-bearer service in the Ambulance Corps in the Ladysmith and Spioenkop during the Anglo-Boer War.

There are also Rastafarian devotees within the areas surrounding Ladysmith, residing in Waters Meet, Peace Town, eZakheni, Steadville, Saint Chads, Acaciaville and Roosbom. They are spiritual people, scholars of black consciousness and African liberation. They run businesses, and are musicians, poets, artists and writers. They are the keepers of different African philosophies.


5 South African Infantry Battalion is based in Ladysmith.[25] A military shooting range is located on the outskirts of the town between the Aerodrome and Platrand.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.
  2. ^ a b c d "Main Place Ladysmith". Census 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Ladysmith History & The Boer War". Archived from the original on 2013-02-24. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  4. ^ Smith, Harry (1903). "The Autobiography of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Smith". Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  5. ^ Durand, Henry Mortimer; White, George Stuart (1915). "III - Arrival in South Africa". The life of Field-Marshal Sir George White, V.C. Vol. II. Edinburgh, London: W. Blackwood. pp. 17–27. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  6. ^ Rickard, J (2007-02-05). "Siege of Ladysmith, 2 November 1899 – 27 February 1900". Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  7. ^ Creswicke, Louis. "From the Commencement of the War to the Battle of Colenso, 15th Dec. 1899". South Africa and the Transvaal War, Vol. 2 (of 6). Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  8. ^ "Winston Churchill". Retrieved 3 February 2008.
  9. ^ "Churchill, Sir Winston". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 3 February 2008.
  10. ^ Radhakrishnan, S. (2000). Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections. Jaico Publishing House. p. 510. ISBN 978-81-7224-122-3.
  11. ^ "The Boer War | Scots Guards". Archived from the original on 2016-10-25.
  12. ^ "Water resource management". South African Government Information. 1998. Archived from the original on 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  13. ^ a b Bell, F. G.; Mason, T. R. (1998). "The problem of flooding in Ladysmith, Natal, South Africa". Engineering Geology Special Publications. Geological Society, London. 15 (1): 3–10. doi:10.1144/GSL.ENG.1998.015.01.01. S2CID 140597926. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  14. ^ "Disaster management guidelines for municipalities". National Disaster Management Centre. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 22, 2014. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  15. ^ "Soofi Mosque". Amafa / Heritage KwaZulu Natal. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Heritage KwaZulu Natal. Retrieved 18 February 2012. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)
  16. ^ Browne, James Stark (1906). "The Battlefields". Through South Africa with the British Association. London: J Speirs. p. 73.
  17. ^ "The Siege Museum". Tourism Archived from the original on 2003-10-25. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  18. ^ "KwaZulu-Natal Freight Transport Data bank". KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  19. ^ "Heritage Impact Assessment of Braamhoek Integrated Power Supply Project" (PDF). eThembeni Cultural Heritage. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  20. ^ Archived 2008-03-17 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "52. Ladysmith Siege Museum". National Archives and Records Service (NARS). Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  22. ^ "Platrand & Burger Memorial". Heritage KwaZulu Natal. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  23. ^ "The Ofical site of Ladysmith Black Mambazo". Ladysmith Black Mambazo. 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  24. ^ "Thulane MALINGA". Boxing Records Online. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  25. ^ "Infantry Formation". South African Army. Retrieved 2008-10-21.

External links[edit]