Town Hall, Potgieter Street

Motto: City of Expertise
Motswe Wa Boitseanape
Stad van Deskundigheid

 Potchefstroom shown within North West

Coordinates: 26°42′54″S 27°06′12″E / 26.71500°S 27.10333°E / -26.71500; 27.10333Coordinates: 26°42′54″S 27°06′12″E / 26.71500°S 27.10333°E / -26.71500; 27.10333
Country South Africa
Province North West
District Dr Kenneth Kaunda
Municipality Tlokwe
Established 1838
  Mayor Kgotso Khumalo (ANC)
  Total 185.4 km2 (71.6 sq mi)
Elevation 1,350 m (4,430 ft)
Population (2016)[1]
  Total 128,353
  Density 690/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2016)[1]
  Black African 70.1%
  Coloured 6%
  Indian/Asian 1%
  White 22.4%
  Other 0.5%
First languages (2016)[1]
  Tswana 41.1%
  Afrikaans 27.9%
  Sotho 10.9%
  Xhosa 9.5%
  Other 10.6%
Postal code (street) 2520
PO box 2520
Area code 018

Potchefstroom is an academic city in the North West Province of South Africa. It hosts the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University. It is situated on the banks of the Mooirivier (Afrikaans for "pretty (or beautiful) river"), roughly 120 km (75 mi) west-southwest of Johannesburg and 45 km (28 mi) east-northeast of Klerksdorp.


There are a number of theories on the origin the of the name Potchefstroom. Firstly it is said to come from 'Potgieter' + 'Chef' + 'stroom'. This refers to the Voortrekker leader and town father Andries Potgieter, "chef" being an indication of leader of the voortrekkers and "stroom" referring to the Mooi River.

According to the South African writer Geoffrey Jenkins, "Others however, attribute the name as having come from the word 'Potscherf', meaning a shard of a broken pot, due to the cracks that appear in the soil of the Mooi River Valley during drought resembling a broken pot".[2]

M.L Fick thirdly suggests that Potchefstroom developed from the abbreviation of "Potgieterstroom" to "Potgerstroom" which in time became "Potchefstroom". However, this doesn't account for the use of "Potjestroom" which is found as inscription on many documents and photographs.

In 2006 the local African National Congress-controlled municipality decided on a name change for the city, the municipality and a number of important street names, favouring 'Tlokwe' as the new name. In 2007 the local municipality was changed from Potchefstroom Municipality to Tlokwe Municipality.[3]


The town, founded in 1838 by the Voortrekkers, is the second oldest settlement of people of European descent in the then Transvaal. The honour of oldest European settlement belongs to Klerksdorp, situated approximately 40 km (25 mi) to the West. This is sometimes challenged by historians because the first settlement was in the "upper regions of the Schoon Spruit", which might be between Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom. Potchefstroom however was the first to develop into a functional town.

For a short time until 1840, the towns of Potchefstroom and Winburg as well as their surrounding territories were joined in a political entity known as the Republic of Winburg-Potchefstroom. Voortrekker leader Andries Hendrik Potgieter was elected as chief commandant.

In October 1840, after a meeting between Potgieter, Andries Pretorius and G.R. van Rooyen it was decided that Potchefstroom would unite with "Pieter Mouriets Burg" (Pietermaritzburg).

In 1848 Potchefstroom became the capital of the ZAR, a status which was affirmed by Britain in 1852.

Over 16 and 17 January 1852, the Sand River Convention was signed between Andries Pretorius representing the Boers and Major W.S Hogge and Mr C.M. Owen representing Britain. According to this convention the British Government would allow the emigrant farmers north of the Vaal river to govern according to their own laws, with a policy of non-interference from both sides. This signalled the establishment of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR) (South African Republic in English). In article 17 of the Constitution of the ZAR of 18 February 1858 (which was accepted in Rustenburg), it was stated that "Potchefstroom, located on the Mooi River, would be the capital of the Republic and that Pretoria would be the seat of government".[4] In May 1860 Potchefstroom became the "chief city" of the Republic, with the capital having moved to Pretoria.

On 16 December 1880, the first shots of the First Boer War were fired when the Boers laid siege to the old fort. The siege ended amicably on 23 March 1881. The British built a concentration camp here during the Second Boer War to imprison Boer women, children and elderly men.

At the opening of the City hall in 1909, General Jan Smuts, the then Colonial Secretary was asked about the possibility of Potchefstroom becoming the capital of the Union. He replied that the city stood no chance, but said that it should aim at being South Africa's biggest educational centre.[5] This has led to the strong educational inclination of this, the 'city of expertise'.

Since 1997 the town has hosted to the annual Aardklop Arts Festival, an (mostly) Afrikaans arts festival held in late September each year.


The Potchefstroom municipality, which encompasses several neighbouring settlements, has a population of 128,357, according to the 2007 community survey. Of these, 69.6% were African, 27.0% White, 3.0% Coloured and 0.4% Asian. Voting population during 2011 local elections was 85945 according to the IEC (http://www.iec.org.za) representing 75% of the adult population which brings the adult population to approx 120,000. If the population under 18 is added, the population figures should be closer to 200,000 in 2011.

In 1912 a resident of Potchefstroom, Ken McArthur won a gold medal at the Stockholm Olympics in marathon. McArthur was famous in his former North Antrim home village for his training routine which consisted of racing the narrow gauge railway train.


Potchefstroom is home to, inter alia, five tertiary institutions and 30 schools, as well as numerous research bureaus and training centres. These include:



Potchefstroom is known as the North-West Province's "Home of Sport". The provincial headquarters of 17 of the most important sports are situated in the city. The City Council places a high priority on the establishment, maintenance and upgrading of the sport facilities under its control, especially to meet the variety of sporting and recreational needs of its youthful community. The Mooi River trails as well as other trails add extra colour and variety to these facilities available to resident and tourist alike.

Potchefstroom has played host to two world cup winning teams, cricket and football respectively, and has thus become the home away from home to many international athletes and teams. Potchefstroom is the only place in the world with a perfect balance between altitude training and quality training at 1400m. The fact that Potch (shortened name) has no large scale factories it has very clean air. The city also boasts with one of the lowest crime rates in South Africa. All of this is perfect for international athletes. Athletes and professional sports teams train at the HPI (High Performance Institute of Sport) of the North West University

Cricket is a very popular sport with Senwes Park being the Home of Cricket for the Highveld Lions. Potchefstroom hosted matches during the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup between Australia and the Netherlands, Australia and Namibia, and also between South Africa and Kenya. Potchefstroom were also co-hosts for the 2009 Cricket World Cup Qualifier. The Proteas chooses Potchefstroom on a regular basis as their destination for off season training camps. And, from time to time Potchefstroom will also play host to the Australians during off season cricket camps. During the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, Australia's cricket team chose Potchefstroom as their home base. They also went on to win the World Cup.

Rugby is arguably the most popular sport in Potchefstroom. Olën Park is the main rugby stadium and is mostly used for Rugby Union matches by the Leopards Rugby Union in the first division of the Currie Cup, as well as the Vodacom Cup.

The stadium is also used for football matches and has hosted a few matches for the South Africa under-23 football team. Jomo Cosmos, a PSL team, recently relegated to NFD also uses the stadium to host some of their matches.

Profert Olën Park was named after Carl Ludwig Theodor Olën who was the President of the Western Transvaal Rugby Union during the period 1922 to 1934. In recent times a local fertilizer company situated in Potchefstroom, Profert has been contributing not only financially but also with their products and expertise, towards the upkeep of the playing field and as thus obtained the naming rights of the stadium.

There is also the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds located on the North West University. The main rugby field on the sports grounds have also seen a few games of the Leopards. It also plays host to the PUK's (NWU) Varsity Cup matches which always sees a full house of locals and students supporting the Pukke (NWU) rugby team.

Kenneth McArthur Stadium is the local athletics stadium. The stadium, which received its fourth 'make-over' in 2014, was erected in 1892 and the oval was named after Kenneth McArthur, the Potchefstroom policeman who was awarded a gold medal for winning the marathon at the 1912 Olympic Games.

Potchefstroom has produced numerous other famous sports people as well. Some include: Godfrey Khotso Mokoena, silver medal winner in long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hezekiél Sepeng, Jorrie Muller, Justine Robbeson and Ryan Diedericks.

The visit of the Spanish team "La Roja" during the FIFA 2010 World Cup introduced a new level of sporting exposure to Potchefstroom and the NWU. The Spanish national football team, who went on to win their first ever FIFA World cup title, chose Potchefstroom to be their base camp for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. To prepare for the team a new sporting complex was built at the North West University and the local airport was extended to host large passenger planes to land.


The Tlokwe Local Municipality serves amongst others the Potchefstroom area. Mayor Maphetle Maphetle (ANC) was dismissed late 2012 after a motion of no confidence was passed and Prof. Annette Combrink from the opposition (DA) was elected mayor.[7] Only 3 months later a motion of no confidence was passed on Prof. Combrink and Mayor Maphetle Maphetle was reinstated.[8] Since then, the Municipal Council's seats as well as the mayoral position are heavily contested during each election.

Main sites

Oak Avenue, one of many oak-lined streets near the university in Potchefstroom

Listed monuments

Since the inception of the Heritage Resources Act of 1999, monuments are classified as grade I (National), grade II (Provincial) and grade III (local). Many previous national monuments were downgraded to provincial level (grade II).

Grade I : National Heritage Sites

Grade II: Provincial Heritage Sites

Grade III: Local Heritage Sites

There are no local heritage sites in Potchefstroom. The following sites have however been placed on the municipality's provisional list:[21]

Other places of interest


Potchefstroom is an important industrial, service and agricultural growth point of North West Province. Industries in Potchefstroom include steel, food, and chemical processing. The chicken industry is of key importance with a number of major players situated around Potchefstroom such as Chubby Chick, Serfontein Poultry, Haagner's Poultry, Crown Chicken and Highveld Egg Cooperation.

North Western Command

The headquarters of the NWC is situated in Potchefstroom and also accentuates the important role which the city plays with regard to the activities of the South African National Defence Force in North West Province.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Sum of the Main Places Mooivallei Park, Potchefstroom, Ikageng, Promosa and Mohadin from Census 2011.
  2. Jenkins, 1971:8
  3. "Potch gets a name change | IOL". IOL. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  4. Badenhorst, Wessel J. (1939). The History of Potchefstroom. Johannesburg: Afrikaans Press. p. 122.
  5. 1 2 Jenkins, 1971:104
  6. http://www.nwu.ac.za
  7. http://www.citypress.co.za/Politics/News/Potch-gets-DA-mayor-after-no-confidence-motion-passed-20121122
  8. http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Combrinck-uit-burgemeester-stoel-20130226
  9. "Old Fort and Cemetery Potchefstroom". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  10. "W D Pretorius House". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  11. "Goetz-Fleischack House". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  12. "House of President M W Pretorius". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  13. "Old powder magazine". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  14. "Old Post Office Greyling Street Potchefstroom". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  15. "Town Hall, Potchefstroom". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  16. "Oak Avenue Potchefstroom". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  17. "Carnegie Library". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  18. "Heimat Potchefstroom". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  19. "Ikoon van Potchefstroomkampus word 80". NWU. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  20. "Rectors Residence 1 Calderbank Avenue Potchefstroom". SAHRA. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  21. "Potch Historical Buildings". Tlokwe City Council. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  22. "Potchefstroom Station Forecourt, SAR Class 8A no 1097". Old Steam Trains and Locomotives in South Africa. Retrieved 11 September 2011.


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