Emalaheni (formerly known as Witbank) is one of the biggest cities in Mpumalanga province. It’s situated about 30 km from Middelburg and about 100 km from Pretoria (the capital city of South Africa). I have passed through this town a few times whilst travelling to Graskop / Sabie / Mozambique.
Here are 10 facts about Emalaheni (Witbank):
- Witbank (meaning “White ridge” in Afrikaans) was established in 1890, proclaimed as a town in 1903 and became a municipality in 1914.
- The railway from Pretoria reached the town in 1894.
- In 2006 Witbank was officially renamed to Emalaheni (meaning “place of coal”).
- Emalaheni (Witbank) is in the coal mining area with 22 collieries in an area no more than 40 km in any direction.
- The N4 (from Pretoria) and N12 (from Johannesburg) freeways converge at Emalahleni.
- The Southern parts of the Emalahleni Municipality form part of the precinct referred to as the Energy Mecca of South Africa, due to its rich deposits of coal reserves and power stations such as Kendal, Matla, Duvha and Ga-Nala.
- The main rivers in the area are the Klein-Olifants River, Olifants River, Wilge River and Rietspruit River, with the Rietspruit Dam, Doringpoort Dam and eMalahleni Dam being the major dams in the municipal area.
- Winston Churchill (former British prime minister) hid in a colliery near Witbank during the Second Boer War after his escape from Pretoria.
- Witbank dam is known as the largest municipal dam in the Southern hemisphere and boasts a catchment area of more than 3540 square kilometres.
- The city has a population of over 260,000 people.
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