PHUMELELA LOCAL MUNICIPALITY
Phumelela Local Municipality is situated within the regional boundaries of Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality.
Vrede (‘at peace’) rests in the north-eastern Free State about 20km east of the N3, close to the Mpumalanga border. Vrede is surrounded by undulating Highveld hills. It is 220km from northern Johannesburg and about 30km from Cornelia on the R102 to Warden and Harrismith, on the Volksrust-Newcastle Road. It is the spine of the Drakensburg off the N3 highway from Durban to Mbombela (previously Nelspruit), and the alternative Durban to Johannesburg, and also on the main route from Johannesburg via Newcastle to the North Coast and Zululand. Travellers from down south can use it to make their way to the Kruger National Park.
Warden is a town situated on the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban. The town has one of the largest Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa, with seating for 1 750 people.
Memel is a Russian word meaning ‘surrounded by water’ and is named after a small town in east Prussia. This pristine country village is situated in the north-eastern corner of the Free State close to the Drakensberg escarpment, 240km from Johannesburg and 300km from Pietermaritzburg. The village of Memel is the central hub of the local farming community but is fast becoming one of South Africa’s most sought-after birding spots. Also, the well-known Amajuba Mountain is only 40km from Memel.
Cities/Towns: Memel, Vrede, Warden
Main Economic Sectors: Agriculture, tourism
Memel is a small town in the Free State province of South Africa, nestled close to the provincial boundaries of both kwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and is situated some 1,730 metres above sea level. Memel-Zamani lies in the west-facing lee of the Drakensberg escarpment, the escarpment functioning as the continental divide. Its high elevation and close proximity to the escarpment are the major reason for Memel’s cold winters.
The recent changes that swept across South Africa since the early 1990s have also brought about a change to the name of this town, Memel-Zamani now being the official name in recognition of the Zamani township – a settlement adjoining Memel to the west in which several thousand black Africans reside. During the apartheid era Zamani was separated from Memel by a golf course which acted as a buffer between the two, now however the golf course no longer exists, houses have been built on it and the buffer zone has disappeared. The two townships are now one.
SEEKOEI-VLEI NATURE RESERVE
Seekoei-vlei Nature Reserve, a massive wetland spanning some 30 km², lies to the north of the town and was declared a Ramsar site in 1999. It houses more than 250 species of birds, and the town is now a popular destination for bird enthusiasts. In the early 1990s, Birdlife South Africa identified the town of Wakkerstroom as the most important birding area in South Africa and located its field headquarters there. Some years later it became known that every bird species occurring there also occurs in Memel. Seekoeivlei is also home to some re-introduced hippopotamus, Seekoei being the Afrikaans translation for “hippo”. The word “vlei” meaning wetland. Hippopotami were originally found in the wetland many years ago but were shot out and their habitat destroyed by large scale drainage for agriculture. Thus their successful re-introduction is regarded as a significant success. Tourist accommodation in the reserve was, for many years, dogged by the disappearance of funds which national government allocated for this purpose. As of 2015 however the tourist chalets have finally opened.
Vrede is a town in the Free State province of South Africa that is the agricultural hub of a 100 km² region. Maize, wheat, mutton, wool, beef, dairy products and poultry are farmed in the region.
The town lies 60 km south of Standerton and 216 km south-east of Johannesburg. It was founded on the Krynauwslust farm in 1863 and proclaimed a town in June 1879. The name is Afrikaans for ‘peace’, which refers to the settlement of a dispute over the proposed site of the town.
Education among the youth (even from poorer background) of Vrede is on the rise, especially due to high schools such as Katleho and Evungwini.
Warden is a town situated in the Free State province of South Africa on the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban.
Town 56km north of Harrismith and 106 kilometres (66 mi) south-south-east of Villiers. It was laid out on the farm Rietvlei in 1912, proclaimed in 1913, and attained municipal status in 1920. Said to be named after Charles Frederick Warden, landdrost of Harrismith from 1884 to 1900.
Warden and Dirkie Uys School celebrated their centenary during September 2013. The town has one of the largest Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa, with seating for 1,750.
A new main road and several buildings has since been built or upgraded. One of the biggest municipal dams are also being built at the moment. Warden’s locality (in the middle of SA and on the N3 highway connecting Gauteng and Durban), water supply, industrial land and labour makes it the ideal place for industrial development. Houses in Warden are reasonably priced. Industrial and residential land are also available.
The farming area around Warden produces a big part of the country’s potatoes, maize and red meat.