The aftermath of
the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 left the remnants of the Zulu Kingdom
in the hands of Usibhepu, Dinizulu's uncle. Dinizulu, the rightful
heir, enlisted military support from the Boers in restoring him
as king. Following a successful campaign Dinizulu was sworn in
and in return the Boers were granted a large tract of land. On
16th August 1884 this land was proclaimed the Nieuwe Republiek
with Vryheid as the capital and Lucas Meijer as the president.
A raadsaal for the town fathers, a presidency
for Lucas Meijer and a goal for miscreants were all built. The
fate of the tiny republic followed that of many others and by
1888 it had been absorbed by its neighbour, the Zuid Afrikaanche
Republiek. The moederkerk, which occupies pride of place in the
centre of town, was completed in 1894.
At the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War on 20th
October 1899, the Vryheid Commando swung into action and, led
by General Lucas Meijer, fought at the battle of Talana. They
went on to take part in the siege of Ladysmith and had the honour
of capturing the British guns at Colenso.
Vryheid itself was left relatively unscathed
by the big battles fought against the British forces to the west
but smaller skirmishes with the Imperial forces did occur at Scheepersnek,
as well as a major Boer attack on the British garrison stationed
on Lancaster Hill just north of Vryheid. During this battle Lt.
Col. Gawne was mortally wounded and a cairn demarcating the place
where he fell as well as the British fortifications can be viewed
on the hill.
General Louis Botha, one of five famous generals
from Vryheid, tested the British lines the next year and led a
successful invasion into Natal via Bloedrivierpoort, drawing thousands
of imperial troops from the Transvaal and the Free State in a
desperate attempt to trap him. The incursion finally ended at
Italeni and Fort Prospect where the Boers were defeated, however
General Botha managed to elude the pursuing British as he led
his men back to the Transvaal.
At the culmination of the Anglo Boer war, chief Sikibobo, encouraged
by the British civil authorities, attacked a Boer camp on the
slopes of Holkrans mountain, killing 56 burgers of Commandant
Jan "Mes" Potgieter's commando.
After the Anglo Boer War in 1903 the town was
incorporated into the colony of Natal. The Carnegie library (presently
the information Bureau) was built with funds from the Carnegie
Foundation and houses started springing up along Bree, Kerk and
Hoog streets as well as above the railway line at the base of
the hill. 1910 saw the Natal Colony join the Union of South Africa
and in 1912 the town was granted municipal status. It gradually
grew into an agricultural market place for maize, sheep and cattle.
The Empire Theatre is Hoog St., site of many musicals and revues,
was completed in 1927.
Coal, which hat been used by the early Zulu tribes east of Vryheid,
became commercially viable from 1908 onwards, with the construction
of a rail link to the coalfields. Two big mines, Coronation an
Hlobane, in time grew to provide thousands of jobs for the inhabitants
of the area. With the increase in population so the need for water
led to the construction of the Grootgewacht (1949), Bloemveld
and Klipfontein dams to service the area. The present municipal
building complex was completed in 1957 and the post office in
Following the successful national elections
in 1994, the political development of Vryheid followed a peaceful
route with the creation of a Transitional Local Council and the
birth of the AbaQulusi Municipality in 2001.
Vryheid Tourism Bureau
2133 x 2271
C/o Mark & Landdrost Street
P.O. Box 57, Vryheid, 3100