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History

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Historical City

Fossils discovered at the Sterkfontein Caves show that homonids lived in the vicinity of Centurion between 2 to 3 million years ago. The Sterkfontein Caves, a World Heritage Site, is less than 50 km from Centurion.

Skull fragments found at Sterkfontein

However, the earliest evidence of modern human habitation in the Centurion area does not go this far back. It dates back to 1200 AD when black communities settled in this area. They cultivated lands, grazed their cattle, made earthenware containers and smelted iron.

From 1825 to 1826 the Matabele defeated the Bakwena tribe and settled along the banks of the Magalies River under the leadership of Umzilikazi.

In 1841 the Erasmus family arrived and settled in the area that would later become Centurion. Daniel Jacobus Erasmus settled on the farm Zwartkop, Daniel Elardus Erasmus on the farm Doornkloof and Rasmus Elardus Erasmus developed the farm Brakfontein. Several of the suburbs like Erasmia, Elardus Park, Zwartkop and Doornkloof were named after the original owners of the land and their properties.

In 1849 Rev Andrew Murray visited the farm Doornkloof and christened 129 babies, heard the confession of their faith of 29 new members of the Reformed Church and the next day, 29 December 1849, celebrated Holy Communion.

Kraal at Rooihuiskraal
Statue of gen. J.C Smuts at Smuts House

In the battle for Rooihuiskraal took place in 1881 at the place where the existing historical terrain is situated. A commando under the leadership of DJ Erasmus Jnr. defeated Col Gildea, the Officer Commanding of the Pretoria Garrison.

Eight years later Alois Hugo Nelmapius bought the northern and north-eastern portions of the farm Doorkloof and named it after his daughter Irene, who died 1961.

Headstones mounted at Irene concentration camp graveyard

During the Anglo-South African War the Irene Concentration Camp was established in 1901 on the farm Doornkloof, north of the Hennops River. The Irene Primary School was also established in the camp. The town of Irene was established in 1902 when Van der Bijl laid out 337 erven on the farm. Dr E G Jansen, later Governor General of South Africa, bought the house in which he lived. The farm also has a close relationship with a former Prime Minister of South Africa, Gen. J C Smuts.

Centurion developed from the initial Lyttelton Township that was marked out on the farm Droogegrond in 1904. Lyttelton Manor Extension 1 was established in 1942. These two townships initially resorted under the Peri Urban Board in Pretoria. They acquired a Health Committee consisting of six members in 1950 and in 1955 a town committee was elected. City Council status was awarded to the town in 1962 and this council had control over an area of 777 ha.

After the inclusion of a number of townships and farming areas, the area over which the city council exerted legal control grew to 6 220 ha and in 1973 this area was enlarged to 20 000 ha.

Lyttelton was renamed after the former Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd to become the City of Verwoerdburg in 1967.

After the elections of 1994 the Verwoerdburg City Council and the Rantesig local area committee were disbanded and a new local authority consisting of Verwoerdburg, Rantesig, Erasmia, Laudium, Christoburgh and Claudius came into being.  The name Centurion was accepted in 1995 by the City Council.

Logo: Centurion
Coat of Arms: Verwoerdburg
Coat of Arms: Centurion

After the country wide local elections on 5 December 2000 the city was incorporated, with the retention of its name, into the Metropolitan Council of Tshwane. Eight ward councillors and a number of proportionally elected councillors represent Centurion.

Temporary logo for Tshwane

A local administrative unit remains responsible for certain tasks in the Centurion area.

Heritage City

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Sources


We acknowledge and thank the following sources:

  • Centurion Stadsraad Dienstegids
  • Brochures: “Centurion-Oos Erfenisroete” and “Centurion-Wes Erfenisroete” (© CULTMATRIX), created by the Division: Culture, Recreation and Community Empowerment Centurion City Council with contributions by various people including mr. Hannes Hattingh, members of the Hennops Valley Conservation Area and people of Laudium.

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