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Steel plate building in Riemvasmaak
Steel plate building in Riemvasmaak
Riemvasmaak is located in Northern Cape
Riemvasmaak is located in South Africa
Coordinates: 28°22′59″S 20°04′59″E / 28.383°S 20.083°E / -28.383; 20.083Coordinates: 28°22′59″S 20°04′59″E / 28.383°S 20.083°E / -28.383; 20.083
CountrySouth Africa
ProvinceNorthern Cape
DistrictZF Mgcawu
MunicipalityKai !Garib
 • Total1.04 km2 (0.40 sq mi)
 • Total694
 • Density670/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African23.6%
 • Coloured43.7%
 • Indian/Asian0.1%
 • White0.3%
 • Other32.3%
First languages (2011)
 • Afrikaans95.3%
 • English1.4%
 • Xhosa1.0%
 • Other2.3%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)

Riemvasmaak is a settlement in ZF Mgcawu District Municipality in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The name means ‘tighten the strap’ or ‘tied with straps’.[2]

Riemvasmaak is located near the Orange River, close to the Namibian border. It was originally settled in the early 1930s by people of Xhosa, Damara, Herero, Nama, and Coloured origin, but in the early 1970s the community was sent back to their ethnic homelands by the apartheid government to make place for a military testing site.[3] The Damara group was sent to Khorixas in South-West Africa (today Namibia) and became known as Riemvasmakers. They were given land by Damara Chief Justus ǁGaroëb to settle in that area.[4]

In 1975, Riemvasmaak became a military testing site, Riemvasmaak Ranges, for live fire exercises of the SADF Armour, Artillery and Air Force until 1994. Long Range Artillery of calibres 120 mm and above, as well as air-to-ground rockets and cluster munitions and ground-to-ground rockets and missiles were tested. It also garrisoned a Company/Squadron of the 62nd Mechanized Infantry and two Companies of the 8 SAI of the SADF, co located with a Target Locating Regiment of the SADF Artillery and an Rocket Artillery Battery. In 1998 a process of land restitution allowed the return of families and communities.[3] Some of the Namibian Riemvasmakers returned but a residual group founded their own traditional authority. They are seeking recognition from the Namibian government to be recognised as a separate Damara clan.[4]

The Riemvasmaakers land claim was successful and a large number returned to their ancestral lands in 1997[citation needed].

The Melkbosrand area, consisting of the farms or areas known as Hartebeesvlak, Blousyfer and Wabrand that cover the northern side of the Augrabies Gorge and the Augrabies Falls National Park, was deproclaimed by parliament,[5] withdrawing it from the national park, with the proviso that it be used for community-based eco-tourism and conservation. Opening to the public was expected in 2015.


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Riemvasmaak". Census 2011.
  2. ^ "Riemvasmaak". Open Africa. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "Jo Ractliffe. The Borderlands". www.stevenson.info. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Miyanicwe, Clemans (22 October 2014). "Riemvasmakers seek recognition". The Namibian.
  5. ^ "Riemvasmaak Community Melkbosrand Deproclamation: adoption | PMG". pmg.org.za. Retrieved 2017-10-25.