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Maloti a Phofung Local Municipality



Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality is situated in the Free State province. It was established in terms of the Provincial Gazette No. 14 of 28 February 2000, issued in terms of Section 21 of the Local Government Notice and Municipal Demarcation Act 27 of 1998. Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality was established on 5 December 2000.

Cities/Towns: Harrismith, Kestell, Phuthaditjhaba

Main Economic Sectors: Social services / government (28%), agriculture (18%)



Harrismith, named after Sir Harry Smith who was a British governor of the Cape Colony is a large town in the Free State province of South Africa. It is situated by the Wilge River, on the N3 highway approximately midway between Johannesburg, about 300 km north-west, and Durban. The town is at the junction with the N5 highway, which continues west towards the provincial capital Bloemfontein, around 340 km south-west. This important crossroads in South Africa’s land trade routes is surrounded by mesas and buttes and located at base of one of these called Platberg.

This town is one of the oldest in the Free State with a rich history dating back to prehistoric times. The town was established due to the location’s strategic position, and was used as a major base by the British during and after the Anglo Boer War. Founded in 1849, British Governor Harry Smith tried to persuade disillusioned Voortrekkers not to abandon Natal. The town named in his honour is now an important crossroads in South Africa’s land trade routes. With game farms and water sport at the nearby Sterkfontein Dam, the leisure options in this picturesque town are endless. Harrismith is a gateway to the Drakensberg Mountains, and whether you choose to stroll through it’s foothills, or enjoy a drive along the various spectacular mountain routes, you will find the magnificent scenery



Founded in 1905 on the farms of Mooifontein and Driekuil, this tiny village in the Free State province of South Africa is situated in the foothills of the Rooiberge in the Maluti Mountains.  Some of the homes in the village date back as far as 1806.  Kestell is just off the N5, about midway between Harrismith and Bethlehem.  The settlement was named after Reverend J D Kestell who served as a Chaplain during the Anglo-Boer War

Kestell is a peaceful hamlet snuggled up against the hillside and set off by the monumental Dutch Reformed Church building, designed by the famous architect Gerard Leendert Pieter Moerdijk, who also designed the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. This church and numerous other buildings, public and private, are built from sandstone.  Many date back to Kestell’s early days at the tail end of the Anglo-Boer War.



Phuthaditjhaba (formerly Witsieshoek or Qwaqwa) is a town in the Free State province of South Africa. Phuthaditjhaba is a seSotho name that means meeting place of the tribes. It is located on the banks of the Elands River. It also located in a section of Drakensberg mountains (Maloti in the Sesotho language). it is bordered by the province of KwaZulu-Natal to the southeast and the independent country of Lesotho to the southwest.

The frequent snow on the Drakensberg mountain peaks surrounding the town led the San to call the region Qwa-Qwa (whiter than white). It was known as Witsieshoek to the European settlers, after Oetse, also Witsie and Wetsi, a Makholokoe chief who lived there from 1839 to 1856. The area was inhabited by two clans of the Basotho, the bakoena and the Batlokoa. The Orange Free State’s government settled these people there in the 1870s after concluding a peace settlement with their leaders. In 1926 the Orange Free State government placed the Batlokoa under the authority of the bakoena but gave each group its own regional authority in 1930. In 1969 they were combined into a single territorial authority, which was replaced two years later by a legislative assembly. Qwaqwa was granted self-government in 1974.

In 1974 Phuthaditjhaba became capital of the bantustan or homeland of QwaQwa. When the apartheid system was abolished in South Africa in 1994, Phuthaditjhaba became part of the Free State province. Phuthaditjhaba is the formal gateway to rural Qwa-Qwa. Service provision in the area is difficult – the land is mountainous and homes in remote areas lack access to basic services. Qwa-Qwa is the poorest area in the Free State Province but the lasting impression is not of poverty but of cultural and environmental uniqueness and an alternative lifestyle. It is home to the Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital.