Boksburg is a medium-sized city in the East Rand of the Gauteng province that is of some historical and logistical importance to the region. As the site of major gold discoveries in the nineteenth century, the town became a major staging post for the mining industry and attracted a large number of prospectors and immigrants, many of whose descendants still inhabit the area today.
It was also linked by main thoroughfares to many of the other key mining towns in the region. Boksburg itself was named after Dr. W. Eduard Bok, the former State Secretary of the South African Republic.
The original area that would become the site of Boksburg was mainly comprised of an number of Highveld farms, most notably Leeuwpoort, Klippoortje, Klipfontein and Driefontein. In 1886, gold-bearing quartz was found on Leeuwpoort, sparking an influx of prospectors to the region and marking the beginning of what would become a booming gold industry. The first gold mine on the East Rand was opened in 1887 by Carl Ziervogel, then owner of Leeuwpoort.
As the mining industry grew, so too did the number of people inhabiting the area. As a result, President Paul Kruger ordered that a new town be establishing to accommodate the growing population. In 1888, coal deposits were discovered near the borders of the new town, and new mining operations were set up to exploit this resource, becoming the first coal mines in the Transvaal region. The outbreak of underground fires in 1895 rendered conditions unsafe and effectively put an end to coal mining in the area.
Boksburg was the scene of several political events during the apartheid years. Nelson Mandela was rumoured to have hidden in Stirtonville, one of the local tonwships, while the authorities were searching for him in the area. South African Communist Party and Umkhonto we Sizwe leader Chris Hani was assassinated outside his Boksburg home in 1993. The town was also boycotted by major international coporations in 1988 when its Conservative Party leaders attempted to reinstitute the Separate Amenities Act (which by that time was largely ignored in most other parts of the country).
Boksburg is located on the Witwatersrand, not far from the city of Johannesburg. It forms part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, which serves as the local government for most of the East Rand region.
Boksburg’s major landmarks include sites of both modern and historical significance. Perhaps the most noticeable is the Boksburg lake, which covers an area of 150 000 square meters. A number of historical hotels (some dating back to the 19th century) are also still in existence – the oldest is the Angelo Hotel. The Tambo Memorial Hospital provides medical services to the surrounding area.
- Boksburg is home to approximately 260,321 people, at a population density of around 1600 per square kilometer.
- The majority of the population is Black African, with Afrikaans being the most commonly spoken language.
- The town’s average elevation is 1,694m above sea level.