Mokopane , officially renamed from Potgietersrus in 2003, is a town in the Limpopo province of South Africa. The village Vredenburg was established by the Voortrekkers and renamed Piet Potgietersrust after the slain Voortrekker leader Piet Potgieter.
The town name was changed to Mokopane in 2003 in honour of a local Northern Ndebele leader, King Mgombane Gegana, who ruled the area before being conquered by the Voortrekkers. Mokopane is the North Sotho form of the king’s name, and is hence erroneous, even though the majority language in the area is North Sotho.
Two hours from Gauteng by road, the town acts as a getaway destination and as a stop-over for travelers en route to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kruger National Park. The area is typical bushveld with many acacia trees and aloes, which display their beautiful blooms in June and July.
The historic and archaeologically significant Makapansgat caves are situated 15 km north of the town. Recovery of Homo habilis habitation has been made at these caves. Remains of Australopithecus africanus have also been found at the caves. The Arend Dieperink Museum portrays the history of the town, from the ape-man at Makapansgat, Bushmen paintings and early activities in the area up to the South African War and recent times.
The stunning bushveld environment and influences from North Sotho, Ndebele, Tsonga, Afrikaans and English cultures give Mokopane a unique character. Tin addition to the ancient caves there is also the “Big Five”, San rock paintings, curios, bushveld food such as biltong (dried meat) and drinks such as mampoer (a potent alcoholic drink), tropical gardens and traditional dancing. In the adjacent township of Mahwelereng traditional lifestyles, set against the spectacular Waterberg, can be observed. Mokopane also offers outdoor activities ranging from hiking, camping and 4 × 4 trails to birding, angling and game viewing.
The economy of Mokopane used to be primarily based on agriculture, until the opening of Anglo American’s platinum mine. Currently the mine is the biggest contributor to the local economy. Recently there has been interest displayed by other mining companies to start up, but community resistance around mining remains the main reason for the slow growth in mining.
The Mokopane area is one of South Africa’s richest agricultural areas, producing wheat, tobacco, cotton, beef, maize, peanuts and citrus. The area around Mokopane is rich in minerals with the mining of platinum, diamonds and granite.