History

A Brief History of Tsantsabane (Postmasburg)

Situated in the Northern Cape in South Africa, Postmasburg is completely surrounded by beautiful green foliage fed by a dam and several shimmering fountains.

Postmasburg was proclaimed a town in 1892 and named after Rev J Postma, a founding member of the Dutch Reformed Church. Postmasburg even had its own diamond rush. The first diamond was discovered in 1918 and as a result an open cast mine grew. The mine was permanently flooded in 1935 and as a result, just like Kimberley, Postmasburg could also boast its very own “Big Hole”. This hole is over 45 m deep and filled with fish. It’s a beautiful sight visited by many. Although diamonds are still mined here, the most important mineral is manganese.

There have been a few archaeological findings in this beautiful area. A sight known as Blinkklipkop, meaning “Shining Rock Hill”, boasts indications that the Khoisan attempted mining in this area as early as 700 AD. They mined specularite, which is a soft form of haematite. This stone was used as a cosmetic as well as in certain rituals.

The Witsand Nature Reserve is truly a beautiful spot to visit. Witsand is a rare jewel found in the treasure house of the Kalahari. This gorgeous nature reserve boasts a large spectacular vista of creamy white dunes, 10 km long and 5 km wide, nestling in the folds of the surrounding red Kalahari dunes. Interestingly, apart from their unique colour, these dunes are also famed for the eerie roaring sound that the sands at Brulsand make when they are disturbed.

The Witsand Nature Reserve protects a highly sensitive ecosystem and many of the plants found here are completely unique in the reserve found nowhere else in the world. Bird lovers are particularly drawn to the Witsand Nature Reserve as it boasts a large diversity of radiant birdlife.

Postmasburg also boasts spectacular architecture and many historical sites. An old blue dolomite stone Reformed Church built in 1908 can be visited. The Reverend Dirk Postma Statue is found nearby. There is also a rather impressive gun known as “Howitzer Gun” which stands at the civic centre. It honours the men of Postmasburg who died during World War II.

For the adventure seekers, there are plenty of thrilling 4×4 trails, hiking and biking in the area. Postmasburg boasts the amenities, tranquillity and beauty that every person loves to visit and experience. Unlike many other places in the arid Kalahari, Postmasburg is ideally fed by a large dam and continuously flourishing.

A little diamond rush

On the east side of Postmasburg are two old diamond mines – Postmas Mine and West End Mine. 

During 1918, a Mr Casper Venter and his assistant Plaatjie discovered a Kimberlite geological “pipe” on the townlands of Postmasburg. One of Casper Venter’s fellow diamond-hunters was James West, after whom the suburb West End was named.

The following year T.L.H. Shone discovered a second Kimberlite pipe which became the Postmas Diamond Mine.

Hundreds of fortune-seekers arrived in Postmasburg in 1920, but the West End Diamonds Ltd had already purchased all the claims – and the aspirant diamond diggers drifted away.

Shone Street in Postmasburg was named after Capt TLH Shone, who was also the first person to mine manganese.

The ancient sibilo mine of Tsantsabane​

From time immemorial,many cultures loved using sibilo, a metallic ore that was ground to a powder, and then mixed with a red-ochre clay (lechoku), and spread on the face and body as a cosmetic. The San, Khoi and Tswana prized this commodity highly, and traded with it, far into the interior, often in exchange for iron and copper that they fashioned into knives and ornaments.

The original name for the sibilo mining site was Tsantsabane (hence the name of the municipality) or Sibiling, or Blinkklip.  Investigations at Blinkklipkop established a date of at least AD 800 for the mining of sibilo by hunting and gathering groups. This means that the mine is at least 1200 years old!

The site is located on municipal commonage, east of Postmasburg. It is not open to the public.

13 Springbok Street, Postmasburg, 8420, Northern Cape, South Africa

Mon – Fri: 7:30 am – 4:30pm

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