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Working Force Compound


UPDATED: 07/06/2022

7 June 1898, Five miners die in fall of mine cage at De Beers mine.

De Beers Directors meet with Kimberley Chamber

The year 1904 saw the entire De Beers Board of Directors meet with the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss the Compound issue. There were 20 compounds (where the black miners lived) within Kimberley, and traders sold to the compounds who in turn sold to the miners inside. De Beers Director and MLA Colonel David Harris had stated in the Cape Legislative assembly that traders in Kimberley were happy with the situation. The resultant furore in Kimberley trading circles proved that they were not and the Chamber requested a meeting. Taken very seriously indeed by De Beers – even the Chief Buyer was quizzed – it was proved that over 100 traders in Kimberley were utilised by the compounds and that it was the policy of De Beers to distribute fairly among purchasers. This was contrary to popular belief and the meeting closed most satisfactorily – the only time that the Chamber and De Beers had a major disagreement.

Pictured is a mining compound in Kimberley in the early 1900s.

UPDATED: 07/06/2021

7 June 1898, Five miners die in fall of mine cage at De Beers mine.

A few Kimberley Quotes
Arthur HJ Bourne, Principal of KHS 1904-1917, in April 1937:
“The history of Kimberley would appear remarkable to any stranger who could not fail to think that some supermind was behind its destinies. In so short a time it has grown from bare veld.”

Bobby Locke, golfer, DFA 15 February 1964:
“I’ve heard so much about the [Kimberley] course that I was left in no doubt as to what it was like. I spoke to Gary Player a week after he played here and he told me it was one of the best courses he had ever been on.”

Harry Oppenheimer to Ken Anderson (from the book “…and so they talked”), 1963:
“Have I any preference between diamonds and gold, you ask me. Yes, diamonds every time. I think people buy diamonds out of vanity and they buy gold because they’re too stupid to think of any other monetary system which will work – and I think vanity is probably a more attractive motive than stupidity.”

George Paton, in a letter to his wife, circa 1872:
“…under the very gloomiest auspices, with a raging dust storm in full blast, and Kimberley in a dust storm is just about as vile a place as you can find in this world.”

Chamber of Commerce President, B.B. Eaton, 1946:
“Kimberley may be likened to Rip van Winkle. The city has been asleep, or may be just dozing for many years, but now it is awakening…do not look for quick results…a country’s greatest asset is its people, regardless of the language they speak or the colour of their skins.”

UPDATED: 07/06/2018

7 June 1898, Five miners die in fall of mine cage at De Beers mine.


Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of Anglo-American Corporation and Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited since 1929, died on 25 November 1957, at a time when Kimberley’s new Civic Centre was being constructed. A magnificent garden was designed as part of the greater complex shortly thereafter in memory of Sir Ernest by landscape artist Joanne Pim. The De Beers Company contributed R70 000 of the R100 000 cost for the Gardens that included the Diggers Fountain in memory of all the diggers past and present that had worked on the five Kimberley Mines. Sculpted by Herman Wald, the Diggers Fountain comprises five diggers, representing the five big mines of Dutoitspan, Bultfontein, De Beers, Kimberley and Wesselton, holding aloft an early type of diamond sieve.


Diggers Fountain Memorial

This heroic five-figure fountain-ensemble was commissioned from Herman Wald to honour the men “who pioneered the diamond industry” for the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Gardens in Kimberley. Wald had completed the memorial by 1 December 1960. The presence of such a fountain in the dry mining city was intended as a symbol of hard work, economic success and good government.


Diggers Fountain Memorial

The Gardens were open for public use by early December 1961.

Pictured are newspaper and magazine articles on the Diggers Fountain memorial.

7 June 1898, Five miners die in fall of mine cage at De Beers mine.


The control of Galeshewe town was taken over by the Bantu Administration Board of the Diamond Fields from the Kimberley Council on August 1 1973.

The Diamond Fields Advertiser of May 5 1976 reported that “slums” in the township were a problem with at least 9 or 10 people living in a four-roomed house. This problem was only because of the lack of suitable housing and the ongoing problem of unemployment. Apartheid was in full force and the residents of townships such as Galeshewe had to put up with not only inferior housing, but poor road infrastructure, second rate education, low wages when employed, second rate transport system, and the infamous pass system. The bucket latrine system was being phased out. Time was running out for apartheid in that year, and in June 1976 the Soweto Township outside Johannesburg erupted. Tensions ran high in all the Kimberley townships.

On November 30 1983 the Municipality of Galeshewe was inaugurated as the first black controlled town in South Africa, albeit it a “banana republic” venture under the rule of apartheid. TW Nyati was the mayor and Sholo Samuel Phakedi his deputy. In fact, since January 2 1978, the Community Board had governed the township for Galeshewe.

The population of the township in 1985, according to a report by the Galeshewe town council, was 81202, and made up of 10110 families. There were 10327 residential sites, of which 9525 were still being developed. This means that only about 1000 sites were developed at the time, so the balance of the families were indeed living in squalor.

There were 10 creche sites (5 developed), 68 parks (4 developed), 71 business sites (64 developed), 54 church sites (12 developed), and 30 school sites. Of the schools there were 22 primary and 8 secondary, plus one college.

In 1988 there were several new suburbs making up Greater Galeshewe. No 2 was still there, but there was also Ikageng (Redirile, and referred to as Stocks and Stocks), Ikageleng, Retswele, KwaNobantu, Zone Six (Extension Six), Ipeleng, and Vergenoeg.

This new Galeshewe Council drafted a master plan to provide for all needs of the town up until 2000, but the implementation of democracy in 1994 saw the end of the council as such. However, the township was high on the priority of the new council for Kimberley – Galeshewe came back into the mainstream of the Kimberley municipality – and work began virtually immediately on upgrading.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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