The city of Witbank
, situated on the Highveld
of Mpumulanga approximately 100kms east of the metropolitan Gauteng
province, has a history inextricably tied up with the rich seams of coal that have enriched investors since their discovery, and today have made this a rapidly developing business area with industrial scale mining of its world-class coal deposits proving an attractive lure for some of the biggest names in the mining industry, bolstering local business growth and spurring a boon in real estate development as a result. In 2006 Witbank was renamed eMalahleni, meaning "place of coal", attesting to the significance of its mineral deposits in shaping this part of the country. Today Witbank
is a bustling community of superb coffee shops, cultural villages, farm stalls, competition golf courses, nature reserves, the largest municipal dam in South Africa
, and a central point on the route between the Gauteng province to the Kruger National Park, a fact which has seen the emergence of a cottage tourism industry to capture the traffic of commuters to the park.
For the visitor, Witbank offers a surprising diversity of attractions both in the surrounding area with its natural beauty and in the city itself. Witbank Nature Reserve is a critical conservationist centre for the threatened Rocky Highveld Grassland – at one time one of the best examples of grassland on earth, today still an ecological treasure of bird and plant life. Bird species maintained in the nature reserve include a recently spotted pair of Fish Eagle, Black Eagle, Osprey and Caspian Tern. Game viewing is also excellent, with springbok, blesbok, eland, zebra, grey rhebuck and black wildebeest or gnu; and with a recent introduction of kudu and impala. And next to the nature reserve, the Witbank Dam – as already stated the largest of its kind in South Africa – has a range of watersports including windsurfing, fishing and waterskiing as well as putt-putt, supertube, tennis courts, roller skating, miniature trains and a play park.
Witbank also contains a number of golfing facilities such as the Middelburg
Golf Course, a full sized 18-hole professional level green that has hosted several national championships, and the Graceland
Golf Course in Secunda
which was designed by Gary Player, and makes creative use of the landscape with a dynamic and challenging variety of obstacles. There is also a casino entertainment complex with ten pin bowling and restaurants; and the Highveld Mall next to the casino is a retail hub for the surrounding vicinity.
From an industrial perspective, Witbank's
22 colleries have ensured a steady flow of business into the area since the city was formed. Today the town has expanded rapidly into an investment destination where international companies such as Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Evraz, Eskom, Exxaro, Joy, Komatsu, the Renova Group, SAB-Miller, SAMANCOR, Shanduka Beverages, Xstrata and Zenith Inc are among the strategic players. As a result of the influx of development, Witbank
(eMalahleni) has doubled its population in the last 10 years due to the increased job opportunities and financial stability offered here. Schooling opportunities are also abundant in eMalahleni, with such institutions as Kragbon Laerskool, Malomo Primary School, Hoërskool Middelburg, Itireleng Primary School and Tshwane University of Technology catering for all educational tiers and ages.