Kroonstad, a precious stone indeed

The early days

A diamond is formed over many years - Kroonstad also came into being over many years.  State President JP Hoffman already had a vision of a community in this area 162 years ago, in 1854.  A Winburg magistrate identified the farm Klipplaatdrif as the area where the town should be developed and it was decided on 5 September 1854 to take action.  The laying out of erven commenced at Cronstadt, as it was known at the time.

Good crop farming area

Kroonstad has been one of the better crop farming and pasturage areas in the Senwes area of operation over the years.

Farming community

We visited one of the well-known producers in Kroonstad, Johan Minnaar, who is still farming at the age of 80.  According to him there is an attitude of "live and let live" amongst the farmers. He remembers the days when there was something like seven farming communities in the area.  "During previous droughts I had the opportunity to move my cattle.  However, it is different this year". Another difference which he noticed is that the fields had not been planted by Covenant Day last year - something that has never happened before.  Johan reminisces about Kroonstad having had significantly fewer liquidations than other areas in the past.  And lastly, the grazing around the Vet and Vals Rivers is exceptional, which is why some of the best farmers farm in this area.

Farmers Union

The Holfontein Farmers' Union Study Group is very active in the Kroonstad area.  Chairman Francois Els, who has been in this position for the past 15 years, says that the 25 study group members go out of their way to help one another and learn from one another, particularly in this difficult drought period.

Food producing area

Kroonstad has been a prominent food producing area in South Africa for many years. Over the years wheat phased out and sheep farming, which was prominent at one stage, also came to an abrupt end due to stock theft.  There is more focus on maize, sunflower and potatoes at present.


Game farming became extremely popular over the past decade and many farmers are starting to fence in their fields.  Huge expansion has taken place over the past five years.

The view is that game offers excellent value, due to the fact that it is much cheaper to feed game.  Sable antelope numbers are increasing rapidly - there could be as many as 1 000 head of sable antelope at present.  Rhino numbers are also increasing due to six game farmers having accessed the game farming scene over the past three years.  Well-known game operations include Kroonstud, which includes seven game breeders such as Cense Syncerus Buffalo, Boschplaat Game, Rooihoogte, Goliatskraal Game, Korannaberg Game, Soetvelde and the Crous Brothers. Lion also form part of the game industry in the area nowadays.

Senwes involvement

Senwes Silo

Hannes Brits, the Senwes Silo Manager, is part of a team of 11 people who take care of the daily activities at Kroonstad Silo.  Kroonstad Silo is unique in the sense that it is one of only four Keeve Steyn silos in the Senwes stable, with Bultfontein, Theunissen and Wesselsbron being the other three. The fact that the workhouse is separate from the silo bins, makes Kroonstad Silo unique.  The capacity of the silo is 69 200 tons and it has 33 bins (21 round bins and 12 star bins), which were erected in 1964.  Five steel bins were added in 1981.

Senwes Village Hinterland branch

The silo team is complimented by the Senwes Village Hinterland branch, under the management of Louis Lingenfelder, and his team of 65 staff members.

Other precious stones from the area!

A number of well-known writers were produced by Kroonstad. Prize-winning writer Dot Serfontein is from Kroonstad and her daughter, the well-known poet Antjie Krog, also lives in the area. Another well-known figure, Max du Preez, is also a Kroonstad export product and the business world's Brand Pretorius matriculated in Kroonstad. Danie Minnaar, Chairman of the Senwes Board of Directors, and Dries Kruger, Chairman of the Senwesbel Board of Directors, are both from this area.

Producers from time immemorial 

The Geldenhuyse and Jordaans were Afrikaner cattle farmers in the middle of the previous century and the Wesselse were large Merino sheep farmers.  At the moment the Crous Brothers are busy making name in the area, as reported upon elsewhere in this edition of Scenario.


Sir Herbert Baker was the architect of the post office, town hall and Standard Bank buildings.  He was also responsible for the design of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

Historical churches in the area include the old Dutch Reformed church which was used as a hospital for the British soldiers during the Anglo-Boer War.  The Dutch Reformed Churches North and South, as well as the St John’s Methodist Church, are also beautiful buildings, to mention but a few.

Sarel Cilliers also played a role in this town and a statue was erected in his honour at the old Dutch Reformed church.  The concentration camp cemetery, where tribute is paid to 1 288 people who lost their lives in the concentration camps, is of great historical value. 


Kroonstad is without a doubt a unique and valuable precious stone.  It adjusts and moves with the times.  Should you happen to enter Kroonstad via the backdoor, where certain areas have been falling into disrepair and where you have to find your way through a myriad of road works, please remind yourself that this area and its people are invaluable.  The best diamonds come from areas where the pressure is the highest.

Never cease to amaze us, o precious stone!

Interesting facts: There is a region named Kronstad in Årstad, Norway. A municipal area in St Petersburg, Russia, is also named Kronstadt.