History About Tzaneen

Tzaneen proudly boasts being the cleanest town in all of the Limpopo Province - confirmed by the government of South Africa. The view from Tzaneen town is spectacular, with the Wolkberg (Cloud Mountain, as the locals call it) framing the lush vegetation and picturesque scenery surrounding the town. The Olifants River runs alongside the town, providing it with plentiful water, which contributes to making the region an abundant producer of fruit and vegetables.

How did Tzaneen come about?

Based on written documents and stories handed down from generations, Tzaneen was originally known as Tsaneng. Parts of Tsaneng were Mayland, Piesangkop, Hansfontein, and the south side of Westfalia. After the English and Dutch arrived in South Africa, Tzaneen become a melting pot of different people and a diversity of cultures.

The Original Residents

Tzaneen residents were originally the Sotho and Shangaan. The Tzaneen Living Museum that is in the midst of the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve showcases their way of life and culture. Just walking through the museum, you’ll find out how life was for them before and during the colonisation period.

When the railway train network put a station in Tzaneen in 1912, Tzaneen became known as a town. An historical landmark is the 1892 Agatha building, now known as The Coach House Hotel, which was erected long before the train station was constructed. It was the last staging post for travellers going to Thabina, the Lowveld, and Leydsdorp. Travellers passed Tzaneen on their way to Pietersburg (now called Polokwane) where there was heavy mineral mining. It was like a gold rush at the time except that the precious booty was in minerals.

Most of the history of Tzaneen revolved around the coach loop which was often rough and arduous. It was like the South Africa version of the Wild West where there was looting, robberies, guns and thugs, even one legendary story of an assailant turning out to be a (deceptively brave) little old lady.

Who’s In Charge Now?

It was in June 2011 that elections took place where Dikeledi Josephine Mmentle was elected Mayor of Tzaneen municipality. It was a landmark victory because the previous mayor, OJ Mushwana held the position for the past 16 years or since 1994. Josephine Mmentle is also the regional chairperson for the African National Congress Women’s League or ANCWL. She is the second mayor of Tzaneen since democracy was introduced in 1994.

Josephine Mmentle also ran without any opposition, which is testament to her grit and clout among the residents of Tzaneen. Her vision for Tzaneen is to improve the economy and establish basic needs for all households, not just in the town of Tzaneen but in the entire Limpopo district.