The town of Zeerust in the Molema region of the North West province came into being on a farm owned by a family by the name of Coetzee. They changed the farm’s name on more than one occasion and then, in 1867, with the intention of developing a town on the land, they settled on Coetzee-Rust or Coetzee’s Rest.
It would be almost 70 years until municipal status was achieved, and by that time the town’s name had been shortened to Zeerust.
Situated on the N4 to Bostswana, Zeerust sits on the acacia-lined Klein Marico River. Its economy revolves around mixed farming and the mining of metals. It is also a commercial centre for a clutch of rural villages in the Lehurutse area.
There’s much history to discover in and around Zeerust, and perhaps most intriguing is the Kaditshwene Ruins, 40 kilometres northeast of the town.
With a population of 20 000, Kaditshwene was once the largest Iron Age stone-built city in South Africa and rivalled Cape Town for size in 1820. Built before 1600, it was the cultural, manufacturing and trading capital of the Bahurutse, a Tswana clan, and remained so until 1823. It produced skilled copper- and iron-smiths as well as stonemasons.
Another interesting historical chapter is that of the 1837 Battle of Mosega, which occurred when Boer leaders Andries Potgieter and Gerrit Maritz took on Mzilikazi’s Matabele at their headquarters, 15 kilometres from the present Zeerust. The Mosega Monument commemorates the event.
Look out for
The Zeerust Library contains a cultural history exhibition of artefacts from the Marico district.
The Kleinfontein Memorial marks the spot where the Boers stopped the advance of the British in the Anglo-Boer War, and inflicted many losses on them.
Water sports activity can be enjoyed on the Kromellenboog and Marico-Bosveld Dams.
The Big Five Madikwe Game Reserve is in easy distance of Zeerust, lying 80 kilometres north of the town.
Another Iron Age settlement to explore is Marula Kop, 50 kilometres from the town.
Old mission stations in the vicinity include the Dinokana Mission Station built by the Lutherans, the Livingstone Mission Station at Mabotsa and the Hermannsburg Mission Station.
The Ikalafeng Monument is a memorial to peace, yet was built by the Bahurutse (under Chief Ikalafeng) on instruction by General Pretorius of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek government, who ordered the tribe to demolish a fortification and pile the stones five metres high.
Built in 1873, the Church of St John the Baptist was the third Anglican Church to be built north of the Vaal River.