Pretoria » City Info » History

Pretoria reminds us of a location that belonged to the era around 1600 when the Southern Transvaal Ndebele captured the river valley. After sometime, another band of refugees occupied the area under the leadership of Mzilikazi during the difaqane in Natal. However, they were compelled to abandon the villages by a regiment of Zulu raiders in 1832.

Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers founded the city in 1855 and named it as Pretoria after his father's name, Andries Pretorius. In the Battle of the Blood River, Andries Pretorius became a national hero of the Voortrekkers and succeeded in negotiating the Sand River Convention (1852). After this convection, Pretoria previously known as Transvaal gained independence from British. On 1 May 1860, the city became the capital city of the South African Republic (ZAR), which marked the end of the Boers' settlement movements of the Great Trek.

The Republican forces encircled the city during the First Boer War between December 1880 and March 1881. To end the war, a peace treaty was signed at the Pretoria convection on 3 August 1881. The Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902 marked the end of the Transvaal Republic in Pretoria and displayed the intervention of British in South Africa. As a result of imprisonment of Winston Churchill at the Staats Model School in Pretoria along with his decision to escape Mozambique, the city was ceded to British under the leadership of Frederick Roberts on 5 June 1900. Finally, the war ended after signing the Peace negotiations of Vereeninging on 31 May 1902.

During the Second Boer War many forts were constructed for the protection of the city, but most of them got ruined. Some of the forts have been conserved as national monuments.

The unification of the Boer Republics of the ZAR, the Orange Free State along with the Cape Colony and Natal Colony in 1910 represented the formation of the Union of South Africa. After the formation of the Union of South Africa, Pretoria gained the title of the administrative capital of the whole of South Africa although Cape Town was the legislative capital. Pretoria was the capital of the province of Transvaal replacing Potchefstroom between 1860 and 1994. Pretoria attained the official city position on 14 October 1931. The city remained the administrative capital of South Africa until it became a republic in 1961.

The Metropolitan Municipality of Pretoria and its surrounding towns were named as Tshwane, after the formation of new municipal structures across South Africa in 2000. The city's sinister image as 'the capital of Apartheid South Africa' was changed by selecting Nelson Mandela as the country's first non-apartheid president.

The provision to change the name of the city to match the name of the Tshwane municipality by the African National Congress in the beginning of 2005 met with rigid opposition as it deprived the city of its history as founded by Pretorius. Much of the opposition was from Afrikaner civil rights groups and political parties.