Witsie's Cave Site





Gazette Date: 

Friday, April 8, 2016


5 of 2016

Notice Date: 

Friday, April 8, 2016


PDF icon Prov Gazette No 03 8 April 2016.pdf84.48 KB
PDF icon dossier2.pdf1.21 MB


In order to understand the historical significance of the Witsie’s Cave, it is important to trace the historical background to the Witsieshoek territory. Witsieshoek was the name of the area tucked away in the northern slopes of the Drakensberg in the northern Free State. It nestles deeply in the corner bordered in the south-east by Natal and by Lesotho in the south-west. The original inhabitants of Qwaqwa were the San people. They were driven out of the area by one of King Moshoeshoe’s I subordinates, Lephatsoana Oetsi (Witsie) who, in turn, settles there around 1838.
The farmers reported Witsie to Major HD Warden; the British Resident in Bloemfontein, in charge of the administration of the Republic van die Oranje Vrije Staat (Republic of the Orange Free State) after it was annexed by the British in 1848. Major Warden ordered Witsie to retrieve the allegedly stolen cattle from his people. Complaints about the Makholokoe’s raiding and lifting kept flooding the office of Joseph Orpen, the Volksraad representative in Harrismith.
It was under the administration of the Native Commissioner, assisted by the Witsieshoek Native Reserve Board. After it came into power in 1948, the National Party (NP) vigorously pursued its policy of apartheid that led to the passing of Bantu Authorities Act in 1951, and provided for the establishment of the homeland system. Thus Qwaqwa became homeland for the Basotho under this Act and was granted self-government in 1974. It remained semi-autonomous until 1994 when it was re-incorporated into South Africa and became part of the Free State Province.


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