A Brief Overview
The Cultural Heartlands city of eMalahleni, formerly Witbank, is the first stop for many travelling to the Kruger Lowveld from Gauteng. Yet there is far more to eMalahleni than simply a stopover.
The City’s original name ‘Witbank’ came from the white ridge of sandstone early transport drivers used as a landmark. It was always considered somewhat ironic that a City known as ‘White Bank’ should become famous for its pitch black coal mines and grey coal-fired stations. So the change of name in 2006 to eMalahleni meaning ‘place of coal’ in the Ndebele dialect is now far more fitting.
The birthplace of South African Rugby legend and National Hero Francois Pienaar, eMalahleni also boast a world renowned trumpet player, a former Miss South Africa and a South African welterweight boxing champion amongst the famous faces born here.
eMalahleni has an equally impressive history. The town played a key role in the escape of Winston Churchill during the Anglo-Boer War, an event that could have had far-reaching global consequences if it had failed. The inner city itself has some incredible historic buildings plus old prefabricated houses from when the town was established in 1903 and while you need to go with a guide, it is an interesting adventure. One thing you will notice if you do explore the City’s history is the lack of tall buildings. This is due to the whole city being built over mine workings and has resulted in eMalahleni’s unique cityscape. While just outside the city is the country’s oldest skydiving club formed during World War Two when the airfield was an RAF military base.
eMalahleni is busy rebranding itself as a premier Mpumalanga tourism destination with the Highveld Mall and Ridge Casino & Entertainment Centre being a key part. The largest Mall in Mpumalanga, Highveld Mall is home to designer brands found nowhere else in the province and the Ridge Casino offers high-end entertainment and hotels within easy access of Gauteng. New recreational facilities like Steve’s Place, along with Witbank Dam that is currently in the process of being upgraded, offer superb water-based recreational facilities to residents and tourist alike.
While newly developed boutique hotels like the award winning Yalla Yalla provide outstanding levels of service excellence. eMalahleni is a city famed for its power stations and coal mines, but once you scratch the surface you soon realise there is so much more to eMalahleni.