Klerksdorp is a town in the North-West Province of South Africa. The town has a population of around 200,000 people and is situated around 160km south-west of Johannesburg and around 50km from Potchefstroom on the N12 national highway.
The town was founded in 1837 when Voortrekkers settled on the banks of the Schoonspruit River that flows through the town. The collection of farms and smallholdings was named Klerksdorp in honour of the first magistrate of the area, Jacob de Clercq.
The settlement was largely an agricultural centre until 1886 when gold was discovered in the area, whereupon the population of Klerksdorp mushroomed as thousands of fortune-seekers stormed the gold-fields with the village quickly becoming a typical mining town with upwards of 70 taverns and its own stock exchange.
While Klerksdorp’s role as a major gold producer has run for more than a hundred years this has started to tail off recently. It is expected, however, that the town will remain important as a large uranium source in the future.
Aside from the mines, the area around the town has remained an important agricultural area, with maize, sorghum, sunflowers and groundnuts being cultivated and large-scale cattle-farming being practised in the area.
The presence of four private hospitals and a large shopping mall in the town ensure the importance of Klerksdorp in the North-West Province.
A little-known fact is that Klerksdorp is the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who was awarded the prize in 1984 for his work in fostering democracy and reconciliation in South Africa.
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