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Brits




Updated 11 Novemebr 2016.

After end of the South African War in 1902 the British government subsidised the restoration of the rural economy. Part of that process was the construction of a railway between Pretoria and Rustenburg in 1906 with numerous sidings along the way to give farming communities access to urban markets. One such siding, close to where the track crosses the Crocodile River, was on the farm 'Roode Kopjes' owned by Gert Brits. The siding was called Brits, and is thought to be a tribute to Gert's father, Johannes Nicolaas Brits (1789 – 1875), a trekboer whose home, 'Bloemfontein' in Transorangia had been expropriated in 1846 by the British for an administrative centre, later to become the capital of the Free State. Johannes Nicolaas had spent the last years of his life on 'Roode Kopjes' and was buried in the farm graveyard.









With the construction of Hartbeespoort Dam, the Brits siding became an important railhead for construction supplies and a health committee was appointed in 1925 to administer the growing community of engineers, contractors and workers. Irrigation from the dam brought permanent agricultural prosperity to the region. In 1928 the health committee was upgraded to a village council and full municipal status was granted in 1944. With the growth of "grand apartheid" in the 1960's Brits, with its abundant water supply, was ideally placed as a "border industrial centre" juxtaposed between an affluent white market and large traditional BaTswana settlements to the north and west – later declared part of the "independent" Republic of Bophutatswana. Stimulated by large tax benefits, investment mushroomed and factories and commerce flourished. Brits was the site of the Alpha Romeo factory which produced cars for the local market. With the demise of apartheid after 1994 the artificial stimulus of state subsidies was withdrawn and many of the factories closed. The economy of Brits slumped with a concomitant rise in unemployment, poverty and crime.
 Matters improved by the late 1990s as Brits benefitted from its proximity to the platinum mining belt. The apartheid designated area for the Indian population is called Primindia. The population is just in excess of 50,000 people.  



South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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