Updated 14 Oct 2016 Kruger, Paulus Stefanus.
Born 10 October 1825, died 14 July 1904.
Paul Kruger is best known as the last President of the South African Republic, and an astute and bitter foe of British Colonial encroachment at the turn of the nineteenth century. However, prior to this he played a prominent role in the history of the Rustenburg region, and of the town itself. (See Rustenburg). Kruger trekked into the region with his father, when he was no more than seventeen years old. He acquired two farms, Waterkloof, in the foothills of the Magaliesberg, and Boekenhoutfontein, (now a national monument), some 40 kilometres west of Rustenburg, close to the populous chiefdoms of the BaKgatla based at Moruleng (Saulspoort) and the baFokeng at Phokeng.
In 1845, Kruger was appointed deputy Veldkornet ( a military position) and became a full Veldcornet in 1852, and later he became Commandant-General for the State, a position he relinquished in 1973. He was thus a highly influential figure in the Rustenburg district. He showed his military prowess in the 1854 campaign against kgosi Makapan of the Kekana Ndebele, living in the Strylpoort mountain range of the then Northern Transvaal. He opposed British annexation of the South African Republic (SAR) in 1877, and travelled to London to campaign against the loss of Boer sovereignty.
His first wife, Maria du Plessis, and his firstborn child, both died of (probably) malaria. This shocked Kruger, but made him determined to serve his people. He did, however, shortly thereafter, marry Maria's cousin, Gazina du Plessis. He accompanied General Andries Pretorius to the signing of the Sand River Convention, and when the authenticity of the Agreement was questioned by Pretorius' opponent, Hendrick Potgieter, he intervened to resolve the dispute, showing his diplomatic abilities.
Kruger had an ambiguous relationship with his African neighbours. He got on well with kgosi Mokgatle of the baFokeng, with whom he was said to have shared the occasional glass of mampoer. (A strong liquor brewed from peaches and other fruits). However he fell out with the baKgatla of Kgamanyane because he perceived him to be unwilling to provide him with sufficient workers for his farming operations. (See also Mokgatle and Kgamanyane). He was also known to obtain labour by the capture of young children, who were then apprenticed (ingeboeked) to work for him, or were given to other Boers in the region. He has, for this reason, been termed Rustenburg's "resident slave trader". In 1883 he was elected President of the SAR, and effectively his career removed him from politics of the Rustenburg district, and the future North-West province. A larger statue of Kruger bestrides the gardens of the Rustenburg Town Hall, a remembrance of the role he played in its early history.