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Dihlabeng Local Municipality



Dihlabeng Local Municipality was established in terms of Section 12 of the Local Government Structures Act 117 of 1998, after the first general local government elections of 5 December 2000, which heralded the final phase of local government reform as envisaged in 1994 at the onset of the process of democratisation. It is a Category B municipality situated within the boundaries of the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality in the eastern Free State.


Bethlehem is situated approximately 240km north-east of Bloemfontein, 140km east of Kroonstad and 90km west of Harrismith. The town is strategically situated in the heart of the picturesque north-eastern Free State and originally developed as a service centre. Growth is stimulated by the strategic location of the area, which is situated adjacent to the N5 between Bloemfontein and Durban and serves as a central regional centre.

The scenic town of Clarens, often referred to as the ‘Switzerland’ of South Africa, is situated approximately 34km south-east of Bethlehem. Clarens is a mere 20km from the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

Fouriesburg is situated on the R26 route and in close proximity to Lesotho. The town has the predominant function of a small service centre and is increasingly being supported by the tourism industry. Paul Roux is situated 35km west of Bethlehem. Rosendal is located at the foot of the Witteberg Mountain Range on the R70. The town offers excellent property investment opportunities.

Cities/Towns: Bethlehem, Clarens, Fouriesburg, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Paul Roux, Rosendal

Main Economic Sectors: Services (29.7%), trade (18.6%), finance (18%), manufacturing (14.4%), transport (9.3%), agriculture (7.1%), construction (1.9%)




Arlington, Bethlehem, Clarens, Clocolan, Excelsior, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Harrismith, Hobhouse, Kestell, Ladybrand, Lindley, Marquard, Memel, Paul Roux, Petrus Steyn, Phuthaditjhaba, Reitz, Rosendal, Senekal, Thaba Patchoa, Tweespruit, Vrede, Warden



The town of Bethlehem was founded in 1864 (other sources claim 1869). It is nestled in the Maluti Mountains in the Free State Province and is one of the towns that grew rapidly after it was founded. The rapid growth was due to the town being connected to Johannesburg, Harrismith and Bloemfontein by rail. The town’s name is of Hebrew origin and means “house of bread”. It is so named because the town boasts fertile land where wheat grows in abundance. Today the town is a leading tourist attraction. One of its most famous sights is the stone mound found just outside the town. The mound was created when miners used to throw stones as an act of gratitude to their ancestors for keeping them safe on their way to and from work in the mines.



Established in 1912, the town of Clarens was a result of two farms being sold Leliehook was bought from Hermanus Steyn in 1910/11 and Piet De Villiers sold his farm Naauwpoort (situated near the Titanic rock) to a company at the time wanting to have village in the area, the two farms were divided into even and sold for fifty pounds. And after negotiations a decision was made to name the village after President Paul Kruger influence on the area after he as a voluntarily exile lived his last days in the town of Clarens in Switzerland.

Clarens often referred to as a ‘jewel’ of the Free State, and one such ‘jewel’ is its Titanic Rock. The most notable sandstone cliff in the area is situated just 2kms north of Clarens. It’s a huge rock that stands like a sentry to welcome all who visit the village. The uniquely shaped rock forms part of Clarens history as it was named by a resident after the Titanic ship tragically sunk. Due to its remarkable resemblance and being shaped like the bow of the ship.

The town of Clarens in the Eastern Free State, is an artist’s hideout. One can easily see why creative people gain inspiration from its beautiful surrounds. For nature, art and fun, Clarens is an ideal getaway. Situated along the Eagle Route, a stone’s throw from the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Clarens is blessed with soul-stirring views. The Golden Gate gets its name from the shades of gold and ochre cast by the sun on the sandstone cliffs for which the region is famous.

Many of the homes, restaurants and shops in Clarens were crafted from sandstone, contributing to the town’s appeal.



Fouriesburg was proclaimed a town in 1892 deriving its name from the many families with the name of Fourie who were living in the area. The original Fourie was Mr Rooi Stoffel Fourie, owner of the farm Groenfontein.

During the Anglo Boer War Fouriesburg was proclaimed the Capital of the Orange Free State. The proclamation was printed on a field printing press “Di Skoorsteenki” and has never been rescinded.

Fouriesburg is situated in the Eastern Free State. It is 50km from Bethlehem and 50km from Ficksburg. The Town is surrounded by the Maluti mountains and is only 10 km from the Lesotho border. The elevation is 1627m above sea level. The nearby peak of Visierskerf in the Witteberge is the second highest mountain peak in the Free State and is the seventh highest in the country.



Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the Park’s sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp.

This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra – and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.



Situated on the N5, between Bethlehem and Senekal. Rev Paul Roux founded the town with its sandstone buildings in 1909. There are caves in the area which gave woman and children shelter during the Anglo-Boer war. There are also ruins of historical rectangular houses which were mud plastered to be seen. Historic dinosaur footprints can be found on a nearby farm. The Holhoek Hiking trail can be found 17km from this little Eastern Free State town.

There are two huts built against the back wall under the low overhang of the roof, which are close on 200 hundred years old. Holhoek is the is first and thus far the only hiking trail for the disabled – wheel chair access right to the mountain top. Bushman rock paintings of the ancient “San” peoples most sacred animal, the eland can also be seen (they believed that the eland had supernatural powers which would help them survive).



Rosendal is a small picturesque town in the Eastern Free State. It is situated in a valley surrounded by the Witteberge that forms part of the Drakensberg range. The area is on average 2408m above sea level. Winters are bitterly cold with severe frost and occasional snowfalls. Summers are mild and cool with temperatures rarely above 30oC. Summer rainfall are normally high, and showers also occur during the winter months. The area is known for heavy rainfall, windy conditions, hail storms and fog.

The mountains add to the natural beauty of the area. Quite a few peaks can be seen from town, “Swartkrans” is the third highest peak in the Free State. The mountains were formed 2 million years ago with lava being deposited over the Tafelberg sandstone deposit. The lava is up to 500m thick in places. The lava is deposited in layers – evidence of eruptions taking place periodically. Rooikraans is an example of red Molento sandstone in the Tafelberg deposit. The deposits consist mainly of dolerites. The geological beauty of the mountains is one of the main attracWelcome to the Eastern Free State.