TOP

logo
South Africa
  • icon
    Search for Air Ticket
    Search
    icon
  • icon
    Search for Hotels
    Search
    icon
  • icon
    Search for Tour Packages
    Search
    icon
  • icon
    Search for Sightseeing
    Search
    icon
  • icon
    Search for Travel Activity
    Search
    icon
icon Worldwideicon
Contact

Destination Details

Witbank (emalahleni), South Africa

Witbank also known as eMalahleni (meaning "place of coal") is a city situated on the Highveld of Mpumalanga, South Africa, within the eMalahleni Local Municipality. The name Witbank is Afrikaans for White Ridge and is named after a white sandstone outcrop where wagon transport drivers rested. The city is known for the coal-mining in the surrounding region.

 

History

Witbank was established in 1890 and early attempts to exploit the coal deposits failed until the railway from Pretoria reached the area in 1894. It was proclaimed a town in 1903 and became a municipality in 1914. Despite attempts by governing bodies to establish the use of the name, eMalahleni, for the city as well as for the district, locals still tend to call the city by its original name. Similarly to the anglicised pronunciation of Johannesburg, English-speaking residents pronounce the name as “wit•bank” and not as “vit•bunk” as in the original Afrikaans pronunciation, nor as “vit•bank” as English-speaking visitors are prone to say.

 

There are many stories about the city and its origination but the top story would be the arrival of Winston Churchill at the nearby Transvaal and Delagoa Bay Colliery during his escape from Boer imprisonment in Pretoria, on his way to Delagoa Bay (later Lourenço Marques, and then Maputo, in Mozambique). Some local residents, loyal to the Crown, assisted him in hiding and making the final leg of his escape, thus gaining Witbank the consequent credit once the details of these events could be made known. The town has grown since then from a farming community into a business destination where companies such as Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Evraz, Eskom, Exxaro, Joy, Komatsu, the Renova Group, SAB Miller, SAMANCOR, Shanduka Beverages, Xstrata and Zenith Inc amongst many others have found substantial returns on their investments.

 

Name change

On 3 March 2006,Witbank was officially renamed eMalahleni, meaning "place of coal" matching the name of the municipality that contains it. A large number of signs to the town have already changed, but many still remain. Some landmarks bearing the name Witbank have remained, while others (such as the Witbank/eMalahleni dam) have been renamed.

 

Transport

Witbank is located along the railway line linking Pretoria to Maputo and for many years served as the transport gateway to the Mozambiquean port. In recent years, this line has been under frequent threat of collapse due to underground coal fires in disused mines in the area.

 

Two national highways, the N4 from Pretoria and the N12 from Johannesburg, converge at Witbank and then continue to Komatipoort, on the border of Mozambique. Together, these routes form the Maputo Corridor, a strategically important alternative to the South African ports of Richards Bay and Durban on the Indian Ocean shores of the country.

 

Tourism

As Witbank is en route to travellers from the Gauteng province to the Kruger National Park, attempts have been made to capture some of the potential tourist spend. Apart from a few hotels, there are many guest houses. These vary from the utilitarian to the luxurious, and also cater for many of the business travellers visiting Witbank as well as those travelling to Nelspruit, Swaziland and Mozambique. A casino complex is accessible within a few hundred meters from the N4 highway, providing two hotels, cinemas, ten-pin bowling and restaurants as well as the traditional gambling facilities. The Highveld Mall is built immediately next to the casino and is a retail hub for locals as well as for many residents of towns in the vicinity.

Check out more destinations