Welkom (Thabong)


Welkom is South Africa’s youngest town and has been the center of the Free State Goldfields, serving several gold and uranium mines, since 1947. Centrally situated, Welkom is placed within comfortable distance from other major cities. Johannesburg is only 250km away, while the distance to Bloemfontein measures 155km.


Following the discovery of gold in 1946, Welkom was founded in 1947 on the farm Welkom, with the word “welkom” meaning in Afrikaans welcome. Welkom received municipal status in 1961 and was declared a city in 1968.It was planned as a model town, with a horseshoeshaped shopping and administrative district surrounding a park of 11 ha. More than 1 million trees were planted in the town. Satellite towns on the Free State Goldfields like Virginia, Hennenman, Allanridge, etc. sprung up.

Well known personalities

Ben Montshioa

Born on 28 July 1956 in Randfontein, Ben Montshioa became deeply involved in politics and helped to form the Mohlakeng Civic Organisation. When the apartheid police started to focus their attention on his activities, he fled the country and went into exile in Tanzania and Botswana. Thereafter he lived quietly for some time in Welkom, away from the attention of the police.In the early 90’s, after the unbanning of liberation organizations, he became a leader of the ANC Thabong branch as well as SANCO. He also served as chairperson of ANC Harry Gwala branch (Ward 27) from 2000 until 2011. He became a councilor in the Matjhabeng Local Municipality from its inception in 2000 and served in different portfolios within the Mayoral Committee. His first appointment was as Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing and then Local Economic Development. He also had a stint as MMC for Monitoring and Evaluation until 2010. He was a ward councilor for Ward 27 from 2000 until 2011 when he was redeployed by the provincial Department of Agriculture. He passed away during December 2011.

Mark Shuttleworth

Mark Shuttleworth was born in 1973 in Welkom in the Free State in South Africa. He holds a Business Science (Finance) degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT). He has set up a venture-capital company HBD (“Here Be Dragons” named after the uncharted territory on early maps) and also founded the Shuttleworth Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting innovation in education in Africa. In April 2002 his name became internationally known when he became the second space tourist (after American billionaire Dennis Tito) by spending nearly 10 days aboard the Russian International Space Station (mission Soyuz TM-34). South Africa issued a stamp on 17 December 2003 honouring Mark Shuttleworth as the “First African in Space”.