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SAR Class 16DA 850 (4-6-2).jpg
SAR Class 16DA no. 850 plinthed in Theunissen
29 May 2005
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South Africa adm location map.svg
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Coordinates: 28°24′0″S26°43′0″E / 28.40000°S 26.71667°E / -28.40000; 26.71667 Coordinates: 28°24′0″S26°43′0″E / 28.40000°S 26.71667°E / -28.40000; 26.71667
Country South Africa
Province Free State
District Lejweleputswa
Municipality Masilonyana
Established13 September 1907
  Total13.9 km2 (5.4 sq mi)
 (2011) [1]
  Density1,700/km2 (4,400/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
   Black African 94.6%
   Coloured 0.6%
   Indian/Asian 0.4%
   White 4.1%
First languages (2011)
   Sotho 72.8%
   Xhosa 12.7%
   Afrikaans 6.1%
   Tswana 2.9%
Time zone UTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
PO box
Area code 057

Theunissen is a small town that has the only wine estate, the Theunissen Wine Farm, in the Free State province of South Africa. It is located about 95 kilometers northeast of Bloemfontein and about 45 kilometers south of Welkom. It was founded by Boer War Commandant Helgaardt Theunissen. Theunissen has a small community (mostly farmers and miners) which supports the local businesses.

Wine alcoholic drink made from grapes

Wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol, carbon dioxide, and heat. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. These variations result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the terroir, and the production process. Many countries enact legal appellations intended to define styles and qualities of wine. These typically restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production. Wines not made from grapes include rice wine and fruit wines such as plum, cherry, pomegranate, currant and elderberry.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.



The founding of Theunissen and its history goes hand in hand with the development of the railway system in the Orange Free State (OFS). When gold was discovered in the Witwatersrand, railways to the new gold fields were a necessity. During this period there were no railways in the OFS and the Transvaal. The nearest railway lines were Kimberley and Pietermaritzburg. Connecting to the coastal ports from the Witwatersrand was vital. A race started from the Natal and Cape coastal ports to connect with the gold fields. In 1887 the Cape government received a concession from the OFS government to build a railway line through the OFS. This railway line was completed in sections which were opened on the following dates:

Orange Free State independent Boer sovereign republic in southern Africa between 1854–1902

The Orange Free State was an independent Boer sovereign republic in Southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, which ceased to exist after it was defeated and surrendered to the British Empire at the end of the Second Boer War in 1902. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province. Extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, its borders were determined by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1848 when the region was proclaimed as the Orange River Sovereignty, with a British Resident based in Bloemfontein. Bloemfontein and the southern parts of the Sovereignty had previously been settled by Griqua and by Trekboere from the Cape Colony.

Witwatersrand mountain range

The Witwatersrand is a 56-kilometre-long (35 mi), north-facing scarp in South Africa. It consists of a hard, erosion-resistant quartzite metamorphic rock, over which several north-flowing rivers form waterfalls, which account for the name Witwatersrand, meaning "ridge of white waters" in Afrikaans. This east-west-running scarp can be traced with only one short gap, from Bedfordview in the east, through Johannesburg and Roodepoort, to Krugersdorp in the west.

South African Republic Former republic in southern Africa

The South African Republic, also referred to as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent and internationally recognised state located in what is now South Africa, from 1852 to 1902. The ZAR defeated the British Empire in what is often referred to as the First Boer War and remained independent until the end of the Second Boer War on 31 May 1902, when it was forced to surrender to the British. After the war the territory of the ZAR became the Transvaal Colony. During World War I, there was an attempt at resurrecting the republic in the Maritz rebellion.

  1. the line Norvalspont to Bloemfontein on 17 December 1890;
  2. the line Bloemfontein to Kroonstad on 20 February 1892 and
  3. the last section from Kroonstad to the Vaal River on 7 May 1892.

The line reached the Witwatersrand during the same year. Smaldeel station was erected directly to the west of Winburg. Because Winburg, the oldest town in the Free State, was not connected with the main railway line, the residents insisted that the OFS Government had to build a railway line from Winburg to Smaldeel. After careful consideration, the Government decided that a railway line will be built through Winburg to Clocolan. The line from Smaldeel to Winburg was opened on 1 November 1898. The building of the line to Clocolan was in an advanced stage when the Second Anglo-Boer War broke out. The line, to date, has not been completed.

Winburg Place in Free State, South Africa

Winburg is a small mixed farming town in the Free State province of South Africa.

Clocolan Place in Free State, South Africa

Clocolan, established in 1906, is a small town in the Free State Province of South Africa. The Basotho called the place Hlohlolwane. New inhabitants mispronounced the name and called it Clocolan.

Smaldeel grew rapidly, as it was the junction where the main line from Bloemfontein and the line from Winburg, Clocolan, Ficksburg and Ladybrand, met. The residents of the Smaldeel station and the farmers from the region decided that the time has come to apply for the establishment of a township. There were objections to the establishment of a town. On the one hand there were the settlers at the railway station and the farmers in the region who wanted to see the establishment of a town. They were represented by Helgaardt Theunissen who, from the beginning, put all his weight behind the campaign for the establishment of a town. On the other hand, were the residents of the Winburg district, who believed that the establishment of a township in the vicinity would greatly hamper trade in their town, especially with the recent establishment of the nearby towns such as Senekal, Ventersburg and Marquard. The result was the submission of two requisitions to the Legislative Council of the OFS:

Ficksburg Place in Free State, South Africa

Ficksburg is a town situated at the foot of the 1,750 meter high Imperani Mountain in Free State province, South Africa. The town was founded by General Johan Fick in 1867 who won the territory in the Basotho Wars. He laid out many erven and plots that could be bought at a reasonable price. The town was later proclaimed a municipality in 1891. The last Governor-General of the Union of South Africa and the first State President of South Africa, Charles Robberts Swart was imprisoned here by the British in 1914 and released one day before his scheduled execution.

Ladybrand Place in Free State, South Africa

Ladybrand is a small agricultural town in the Free State province of South Africa, situated 18 km from Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. Ladybrand is one of five towns that forms the Mantsopa Local Municipality. Founded in 1867 following the Basotho Wars, it was named after Lady (Catharina) Brand, the wife of the president of the Orange Free State, Johannes Brand.

Senekal Place in Free State, South Africa

Senekal is a town situated on the banks of the Sand River in the eastern part of the Free State province of South Africa. It was named after Commandant FP Senekal. It is the second largest town in Setsoto Municipality after Ficksburg, the largest town and capital of Setsoto. Senekal lies on the N5 national road between Winburg on the west and Bethlehem to the east. It has two townships, Matwabeng and OR Tambo Section, the latter being the latest, largest and fastest growing.

Requisition number one was received on 3 May 1906 and contains the following:

"The petition of the inhabitants of Smaldeel district Winburg, O.R.C. humbly sheweth:

Orange River Colony former country

The Orange River Colony was the British colony created after Britain first occupied (1900) and then annexed (1902) the independent Orange Free State in the Second Boer War. The colony ceased to exist in 1910, when it was absorbed into the Union of South Africa as Orange Free State Province.

Brandfort Place in Free State, South Africa

Brandfort is a small agricultural town in the central Free State province of South Africa, about 60 km northeast of Bloemfontein. The town serves the surrounding farms for supplies and amenities. It is well known for once being home to the Anti-Apartheid stalwart and former wife of Nelson Mandela Winnie Mandela during her banishment. The British built a concentration camp here during the Second Boer War to house Boer women and children. Brandfort was also home to former prime-minister Hendrik Verwoerd, an architect of Apartheid, who matriculated there and Cardiff City F.C. midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi was born in Brandfort. This is where Admiral John Weston designed and built the First Aeroplane in Africa as well as the First RV/caravan in the World. He also designed the Gnome Engines now exhibited in the Bloemfontein Museum.

Bultfontein Place in Free State, South Africa

Bultfontein is a town in the Free State province of South Africa with a total population of about 23,400 people. It is situated in the Tswelopele Local Municipality, about 100 kilometres (60 mi) north of Bloemfontein. The town site was laid out in 1873; it had been delayed because of a location dispute which also led to the establishment of Hoopstad 55 kilometres (35 mi) to the north-west. The township of Phahameng was established on the outskirts of Bultfontein in the 1970s.

Odendaalsrus Place in Free State, South Africa

Odendaalsrus is the oldest gold mining town in the Lejweleputswa District Municipality in the goldfields of the Free State province in South Africa.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray."

When a request was submitted that a Township be established at Welgelegen instead, a petition was signed by 232 farmers and residents of Smaldeel. This was not the only requisition that was submitted opposing the proclamation of a town. On 20 July 1906 and 6 February 1907, opposing requisition was received from Winburg and Kroonstad respectively.

It was impossible for the Legislative Council to make up its mind right away. A few months later the petitioners from Smaldeel received a letter from the Secretary of Legislative Council dated 18 September 1906, stating that the case of proclaiming a town will be investigated by a commission of enquiry consisting of Surveyor General, Mr. J.W.H. Steyn and Mr. W.J.C. Brebner. They were also informed that certain improvements needed to be made to their letter of request.

On 23 June 1906 the residents of Smaldeel had a meeting where a declaration was drawn up, giving Helgaardt Theunissen authority to amend the first letter of request, and to sign all the following declarations and to appear in front of the Legislative Council, in person, on their behalf. Theunissen, assisted by his lawyer, Mr. G.A. Hill, drew up a complete declaration, dated 23 June 1906, containing information of which farms should be purchased and at what price. He concludes by declaring:

"It is confidently anticipated that the total cost of forming the Township… will not exceed £20,000."

This important document is accompanied by a medical report compiled by the district's physician Dr. A.J. Baird, wherein he states considered sanitary and health circumstances within Smaldeel. He concludes:

"It is highly desirable that a recognized municipal authority should be appointed."

Following the submission of the declaration the area was visited by the commission of enquiry, Mr. Steyn and Brebner. The report from the commission appears on 4 January 1907. This stipulated their findings, as well as the arguments for and against the forming of a township, and stating their recommendation as follows:

"On an inspection of the properties your Commission had doubts as to a sufficient supply of water being obtainable for the wants of a township, but got assurance that plenty could be obtained from the existing spring and dam, which would be supplemented by the sinking of wells: underground water is struck at a depth of from 13 to 20 feet"

After they were sighted on the possible difficulty that they could encounter, their findings were as follows:

"Your commission recommends that the petition be granted."

The requisition for the founding of a Township at Smaldeel appeared in front of the Legislative Council on 1 March 1907. The request was approved. The Secretary of the Legislative Council sent a letter, dated 6 March 1907, to Mr. H Theunissen:

"I have the honour to inform you that the Legislative Council has sanctioned the formation of a township at Smaldeel on conditions of which I enclose a copy"

The conditions were as follows:

The official proclamation of Smaldeel to the township of Theunissen dragged on until September. The official proclamation appeared in the Government Gazette of 13 September 1907 – Proclamation 41 of 1907. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Legislative Council of this Colony has determined that it is necessary that a township be formed at Smaldeel in the district of Winburg. Now, therefore, under by virtue of the powers in me vested, I do hereby proclaim and make known as follows:

A township has been formed at Theunissen formerly known as Smaldeel in the district of Winburg in terms of the resolution of the Legislative Council dated 1st March 1907, consisting of the following farms viz. Statie No. 667 registered in the name of A.N. Mucke, Smaldeel No. 262 registered in the name of S.J. Nieman and that part of the farm Poortjie No. 259 registered in the names of J.W.A. du Plessis and J.A. du Plessis and situated between the North East Boundary of the farm Smaldeel and the main railway line, all in the said district of Winburg.


Given under my hand and the public seal of the Orange River Colony at Bloemfontein, this 13th day of September 1907.

H. Goold-Adams



There only 7 public schools in Theunissen:

Notable residents

South African Formula One driver Neville Lederle was born in Theunissen in 1938. Springbok rugby legend, Os du Randt had a farm called Tama just outside the town. The pilot of the first trans-Africa flight, Sir Pierre van Ryneveld, owned a house near the current Senwes grain-silos and train station. It is currently a bar/restaurant.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Sum of the Main Places Theunissen and Masilo from Census 2011.

Geographic Location