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""View from Valley of Desolation to Graaff-Reinet
View from Valley of Desolation to Graaff-Reinet
""Graaff-Reinet is located in Eastern Cape
 Graaff-Reinet shown within Eastern Cape
""Graaff-Reinet is located in South Africa
Graaff-Reinet (South Africa)
""Graaff-Reinet is located in Africa
Graaff-Reinet (Africa)
Coordinates: 32°15′08″S 24°32′26″E / 32.25222°S 24.54056°E / -32.25222; 24.54056"Coordinates: 32°15′08″S 24°32′26″E / 32.25222°S 24.54056°E / -32.25222; 24.54056
Country "South Africa
Province "Eastern Cape
District "Sarah Baartman
Municipality "Dr Beyers Naudé
Established 1786[1]
 • Total 203.6 km2 (78.6 sq mi)
Elevation 750 m (2,460 ft)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 35,672
 • Density 180/km2 (450/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[2]
 • "Black African 28.2%
 • "Coloured 62.2%
 • "Indian/"Asian 0.5%
 • "White 8.7%
 • Other 0.4%
"First languages (2011)[2]
 • "Afrikaans 76.0%
 • "Xhosa 18.9%
 • "English 3.6%
 • Other 1.5%
"Time zone "SAST ("UTC+2)
"Postal code (street) 6286, 6280, 6281
"Area code 049

Graaff-Reinet is a town in the "Eastern Cape Province of "South Africa. It is the fourth-oldest town in South Africa, after "Cape Town, "Stellenbosch, and "Swellendam.[3]



Boer republic of Graaf-Reinet (blue) and other Dutch territories around 1795

Graaf-Reinet was established by the VOC ("Dutch East India Company) in 1786, being named after the then governor of the "Cape Colony, Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff, and his wife,[4] whose maiden name was "Reinet". It was originally established as a trading post to expand trading inland from the Cape Colony.

In 1795, the burghers, annoyed by the exactions of the VOC,[4] and under the leadership of Adriaan van Jaarsveld, expelled the Landdrost Maynier and proclaimed an independent "Colony of Graaff-Reinet," requesting guardianship from the government in the Netherlands (and not the VOC). Similar action was subsequently taken by the burghers of "Swellendam.[4] Claims that the two "independent" regions wanted to be independent republics were found to be untrue. Before the authorities at "Cape Town could take decisive measures against the rebels, they were themselves compelled to capitulate to the British who invaded and occupied the Cape. The burghers having endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to get aid from a French warship at "Algoa Bay surrendered to "Colonel (afterwards General Sir) JO Vandeleur.[4]

In January 1799, Marthinus Prinsloo, a leader of the independent movement in 1795, again rebelled, but surrendered the following April. Prinsloo and nineteen others were imprisoned in the "Cape Town castle. After trial, Prinsloo and another commandant were sentenced to death and others to banishment. The sentences were not carried out and the prisoners were released, March 1803, on the retrocession of the Cape to the "Netherlands.[4] In February 1803, in terms of the "Treaty of Amiens signed in 1802 (between England and France), the British returned the Cape Colony to the Netherlands, then renamed the Batavian Republic.

In 1801, there had been another revolt in Graaff Reinet, but owing to the conciliatory measures of "General F Dundas (acting governor of the "Cape Colony) peace was soon restored. It was this district, where an independent "Colonie" government in South Africa was first proclaimed, which furnished large numbers of the "Voortrekkers in 1835–1842.[4]

In 1806, a British fleet of sixty-one ships dropped anchor at Robben Island and landed 6000 troops at Blaauwberg. The Battle of Blaauwberg followed and Dutch resistance crumbled. On 13 August 1814 the Cape Colony was formally ceded to Britain by a convention under which Dutch vessels were entitled to resort freely to the Cape of Good Hope for the purposes of refreshment and repairs. Britain agreed on 13 August 1814 to pay five million sterling to the United Netherlands for the Dutch possession at the Cape.

The "Cape Colony received a degree of independence in 1872 when ""Responsible Government" was declared and, in 1877, the government of Prime Minister "John Molteno began construction of the railway line connecting Graaff-Reinet to "Port Elizabeth on the coast. This was officially opened on 26 August 1879.[5]

Graaff Reinet became the centre of British military operations for the whole Eastern Cape during the "Second Boer War. In 1901, a number of captured Boer rebels were tried in the town for crimes ranging from "high treason, murder, attempted murder, arson and robbery. Nine were sentenced to death, with eight of these being executed by firing squad on the outskirts of the town, while the ninth sentence was carried out in Colesberg.[6] The Burgher Monument in Donkin Street commemorates the fallen Boers.


The town lies 750 metres (2,460 ft) above the sea and is built on the banks of the "Sundays River, which rises a little further north on the southern slopes of the "Sneeuberge, and splits into several channels here. The "Dutch Reformed church in the town is a prominent stone building in Church street with seating accommodation for 1,500 people. The building is influenced by the architecture of "Salisbury Cathedral in England.[7]

The college is an educational centre of some importance; it was rebuilt in 1906. The Graaff Reinet Teachers College was closed down in 1990 after it was used as a centre for further educational training for about six years.

Graaff Reinet is a flourishing market for agricultural produce, the district being noted for its "mohair industry, sheep and "ostrich farming.


In the "South African National Census of 2011, the population of Graaff-Reinet (including the "township of uMasizakhe) was recorded as 35,672 people living in 8,393 households.[2] Of this population, 62.2% described themselves as ""Coloured who are in fact KhoeSan, the original inhabitants of this place", 28.2% as ""Black African", and 8.7% as ""White". The dominant language was "Afrikaans, which was the "first language of 76.0% of the population. 18.9% spoke "Xhosa, and 3.6% spoke "English. There is currently very little traces of the original languages of this place namely the Khoekhoe and Bushman languages which KhoeSan were prohibited from speaking. [2]

Tourist attractions[edit]

Dutch Reformed Church
The "Dutch Reformed Church (Grotekerk) in Graaff-Reinet.
An aerial view of Graaff-Reinet's Dutch Reformed Church.

Graaff-Reinet is home to more national monuments than any other town or city in South Africa.[10]

Notable people[edit]

The Drostdy Hotel
Monument to "Andries Pretorius

Early history[edit]

Great Trek and Boer Republics[edit]




Literature and the Arts[edit]




Coats of arms[edit]


In 1804, when the Cape Colony was ruled by the "Batavian Republic, the government assigned armorial seals to each of the drostdyen, i.e. administrative districts. Graaff Reinet was given the arms of its founder, Cornelis Jacob van de Graaff, namely a silver shield displaying two black stripes with embattled edges, and a golden canton bearing a double-headed black eagle. An anchor was placed behind the shield.[14] The British authorities discontinued the drostdy seals in 1814, and replaced them with the royal coat of arms.[15]

Municipal (1)[edit]

In September 1911, the Graaff Reinet municipal council adopted the Van de Graaff arms, complete with crest (a double-headed black eagle), supporters (two black eagles) and motto (Dieu mon conduise).[16][17]

Municipal (2)[edit]

The coat of arms was re-designed in the 1980s, and registered at the "Bureau of Heraldry in May 1979.[18]

The arms were now: Argent, two bars embattled counter-embattled Gules, on a canton Sable an anchor erect Or (i.e. the bars were changed from black to red, and the canton to a gold anchor on a black background). The crest was differenced by placing a golden anchor on the eagle's breast. The supporters and motto remained the same.

Divisional council[edit]

The divisional council, i.e. the local authority for the rural areas outside the town, assumed its own coat of arms, had it granted by the provincial administrator in July 1966[19] and registered it at the Bureau of Heraldry in January 1969.[18]

The arms were: Argent, on a chevron Vert. a pair of compasses expanded Argent, in base a spade erect Sable, on a chief embattled Sable a merino ram's head caboshed Or. In layman's terms, a silver shield displaying, from top to bottom, a golden merino ram's head on a black stripe with an embattled edge, a pair of silver compasses on a green chevron, and an upright black spade.

The crest was a double-headed black eagle, and the motto was Monemus et minimus.

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sum of the Main Places Graaff Reinet and uMasizakhe from Census 2011.
  3. ^ Floyd, TB (1960). "What are the Oldest Towns in South Africa?". 
  4. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the "public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Graaff Reinet". "Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 306. 
  5. ^ Burman, Jose (1984), Early Railways at the Cape. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau, p.68. "ISBN "0-7981-1760-5
  6. ^ Innocent Bloodauthor=Graham Jooste, Roger Webster. New Africa Books. 2002. p. 50. "ISBN "0-86486-532-5. Retrieved 12 October 2008. 
  7. ^ "NG Grootkerk History". Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Dutch Reformed Church Church Street Graaff-Reinet". "South African Heritage Resources Agency. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. 
  9. ^ "Things To Do In Graaff-Reinet - Thyme & Again B&B". Graaff-Reinet Accommodation - Thyme & Again B&B. Retrieved 2017-11-30. 
  10. ^ "Graaff-Reinet City website". 
  11. ^ "Matthew Goniwe". SA History. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Memorial to Johannes J. Brummer 1921–2005". The Geological Society of America.  line feed character in |title= at position 32 ("help)
  13. ^ a b Ets-Hokin, Gabe (10 June 2007). "CW 5Q: Pierre Terblanche". Cycle World. 
  14. ^ Pama, C. (1965) Lions and Virgins.
  15. ^ Cape Town Gazette 418 (15 January 1814).
  16. ^ Western Cape Archives : Graaff Reinet Municipal Minutes (22 September 1911).
  17. ^ The arms were depicted on a cigarette card issued in 1931.
  18. ^ a b http://www.national.archsrch.gov.za["permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Cape of Good Hope Official Gazette 3354 (8 July 1966).

External links[edit]

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