Church in Piketberg
|• Total||13.27 km2 (5.12 sq mi)|
|• Density||910/km2 (2,400/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||8.1%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||7320|
The town is in the foothills of the Piketberg mountains, a range of low mountains formed from Table Mountain Sandstone.
The area around the mountains is conducive to the farming of wheat, while the area on top of the mountains, being cooler and generally frost-free, is suited to the farming of fruit and Rooibos Tea.
The area was inhabited by the Khoikhoi and the San before the arrival of settlers of European extraction and there is still well-preserved San rock art in the mountains. There was once a small military post in the town to protect the livestock of farmers against depredations by the Khoikhoi.
The Picquet commandos fired the cannon. The cannon-fire protected the European-descended farming community from the attacks of the indigenous groups, the "Gonjemans".
The community used its cannon to signal the arrival of ships in Cape Town. Piketberg's farmers would load their carts with produce and wares. Then head to Cape Town to do business.
The cannon also fired on special occasions like Queen Victoria's birthday and the arrival of the town's first telephone line.
It fired for the last time in the 1960s. A misfire left the school's windows aflame. Hereafter, the canon was filled with cement. Until recently, the Piketberg cannon stood in front of Piketberg High School, aimed East, in the direction of Porterville High School, it's rival.
The many Jewish surnames in Piketberg's historic graveyard bear witness to its once vigorous Jewish community. Most had Lithuanian roots. They were entrepreneurs and raised themselves out of poverty by wheeling and dealing from farmstead to farmstead.
Lodewyk Ando Simon, of Hungarian Jewish descent, moved from nearby Redelinghuys to Piketberg and built the synagogue in 1925. It's estimated that 30 Jewish families lived in Piketberg in this time. Rabbi Moses Beraitzer, was the first rabbi. He was a strict shepherd to his flock. Though blind in his later years, the Rabbi served undaunted, and preached the Talmud from memory. It is unsure when the congregation disbanded.
The University of Cape Town's Kaplan Centre houses several of the synagogue's historic documents.
Since 1996 the synagogue has been home to the Piketberg Tourism Bureau. In recent years the synagogue has been part of the town museum.
In February 2004 descendants of Piketberg's lost Jewish community celebrated their roots with a tree planting ceremony.
The Piketberg Bio-scope building was built in the late 1920s. It was one of the first bio's in the region. During the 1970s the cinema ran performances on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Bruce Lee and James Bond movies were popular. South Africa's segregation also crept into the movie theatre. Non-whites sat in the gallery and whites sat on the main seats. There were ructions sometimes and it fell to a certain Mr Frans Bosman, a boxer, to check the trouble-makers.
During the 1990s, Sensei Harry Pieterkosky taught Goju Ryu karate in the 'Old-Bio' to many dedicated, enthusiastic, and diverse students.
Piketberg has suffered from fires.
1 July 1992: a fire causes millions of Rands worth of damage to the municipal buildings and library. Priceless Africana is irrevocably lost.
1994: A fire rages in the Piketberg mountains and nearly sent the houses in Vesper Street ablaze.
2001: A fire nearly destroys the historic Bio-scope theater and game arcade.
- "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.
- "Main Place Piketberg". Census 2011.
- "Piketberg Tourism and Accommodation: Visitor Information Centre". The Western Cape. Retrieved June 19, 2010.