History of Hazyview

Sabie River Bungalows in the 1930's
Photo: White River Museum

The First Trading Post
Six roads, coming from all directions, converge at Hazyview. The town is situated on the farm De Rust, 35 km east of Sabie, about 35 km north of White River and 53 km west of Skukuza. 

Because of it's distance from White River, Sabie, Kruger National Park and Phalaborwa, it was the perfect locality for a trading post and petrol filling station. The Village of Hazyview was officially promulgated in 1959 when the first post office was established and Hazyview Railway Station came into being when the old Selati Railway line was diverted outside the western border of the Kruger National Park to Kaapmuiden in the late 1960's. 

Selati Railway Line

In 1887 gold was discovered near Gravelotte in the Northern Transvaal. This became known as the Selati Goldfields.

While the Eastern Railway Line was being constructed from Komatipoort to Pretoria in 1891, it was evident that the Soutpansberg area (in the far Northern Transvaal) also needed fast rail transport to Lourenco Marques (Maputo).  This prompted the Volksraad to approve the construction of a railway line from Komatipoort, via the Selati Goldfields, to Zoekmekaar.

After laying 120km of track from Komatipoort, the Selati line came to an abrupt stop in 1894 at the Sabie River near Skukuza.  This was due to a corruption investigation into the affairs of the concession holder, Baron Eugene Oppenheim.  The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) delayed the completion even further.

The Selati Line to Zoemekaar was eventually completed in 1915 and later (in the late 1960's) diverted to run outside the Kruger National Park to the present railway station at Hazyview.

Perry's Farm
Harry Wolhuter, the famous Kruger National Park game ranger, had a friend named Perry, a French Canadian and member of Steinaecker's Horse, a cavalry regiment in the South African War, who saved Harry's life when he had Black water fever. Some time after the War, Perry was granted a farm on the Sabie River by the Government, which he named 'Perry's Farm', on which he started a trading store. Having no family he willed his farm to Harry and after his death and burial there, Harry was obliged to sell the farm in order to liquidate the debts. This farm was later to become the site of the Sabi River Bungalows, now known as the Sabi River Sun, and the bridge over the Sabie River as Perry's Bridge. 

The farm De Rust used to belong to Harry Wolhuter,. He sold the farm to HE Gillman and Eric Smothers. Smothers donated a 5 morgen (1.25 ha) section of the farm for the establishment of the Sabi-Sand Co-operative and Smothers' daughter (married to Peter Batchelder), sold 5 morgen (1.25 ha) to the Sabi-Sand Co-operative for the housing of the co-op's staff and for a tennis court. 

Harry Wolhuter

Henry Christoffel (Harry) Wolhuter (1876-1964) was born in Beaufort West. He later relocated to the Lowveld to assist his parents on their farm & trading store at Legogote, near White River.

During the Anglo-Boer War, Harry joined a volunteer corps that was formed under the leadership of Col. Baron Franz Ludwig von Steinaecker, the commander of the famous 'Steinaecker's Horse'. At the close of the Anglo-Boer War, Harry was appointed as a game ranger by Major James Stevenson-Hamilton, the newly appointed Warden of the Sabi Game Reserve.

In August 1903 Harry was attacked by a lion some 14km north-east of Tshokwane. He was badly injured, but succeeded in killing the lion with his hunting knife. His distinguished services in the Park continued until 1946 when, at the age of 69, he retired to settle on his farm 'Lindandene' just outside White River.

He recorded his adventures in his book "Memories of a Game Ranger", published in 1948.

The First Shopping Centre
The Sabi-Sand Co-operative was established in 1955. At the same time the Blue Haze Garage was started and Peter Batchelder negotiated with Roy Hurndall for a business complex in Hazyview. Peter erected the buildings and Roy leased the building and started Kiaat Traders, later changed to Hazyview Traders. This complex also housed a medicine depot and a post office.

The First Bananas
Today the Kiepersol and Burgers Hall areas are one of the main banana producing areas of the Lowveld. The man responsible for planting the first banana orchards was Eduard Christiaan (Eddie) Joubert (1891-1962).

The First Hotel
Captain Max Tylden-Wright and Charles Hull opened the first hotel on the Sabie River in 1932 to service the visitors to the Kruger National Park, hunters travelling to the north and various entrepreneurs in mining, timber and farming. The Sabi River Bungalows consisted of 13 rondawels with private bathrooms, 6 single rondawels for the chauffeurs, and a hot mineral spring swimming pool. This was a very prestigious hotel and Lady Louis Mountbatten, who visited in 1937, was but one of many famous people who stayed there, along with the Oppenheimer, Engelhad and Anstey families.

The First Private Game Reserves
East of Hazyview, on the road to the Kruger National Park, are the well known game sanctuaries such as Londolozi, Sabi Sabi, MalaMala, and others. The concept of nature reserves started after the proclamation of the Kruger National Park in 1926. Until then farms in the Lowveld were utilised for hunting purposes but with the proclamation of the Park, conservation awareness was born. The portion lying to the west of the Park, between the Sabie River in the south and the Olifants River in the north, was the first area where the concept of private nature reserves began. 

In 1926 Charles Boyd Varty and Frank A Unger, both ardent sportsmen and true lovers of wildlife, purchased the farm Sparta, in the present Sabi Sand Wildtuin, and thus pioneered the 'game farm' idea in this area. A year later W A (Wac) Campbell, the patriarch of Natal Sugar Estates, and a foundation member of the National Parks Board, bought MalaMala, Eyrefield and Marthly in this reserve. and subsequently acquired several other adjacent farms. During the early thirties almost all the farms in the 'Toulon Block' (Sabi Sand), as well as several others in the neighbourhood, were purchased by private individuals. 

In 1934 some of the owners looked for a scheme of co-operative game protection. They took their problem to the Transvaal Land Owners Association (TLOA), which had many functions, including the administration of unoccupied agricultural and game farms for individuals or groups. The TLOA suggested that the Sabi Private Game Scheme be formed. This name was changed in July 1948 to Sabi Sand Wildtuin and formally proclaimed a private nature reserve on 27 January 1965. 

Londolozi Game Reserve was one of the first to be established in the Sabi Sand area. Londolozi Game Reserve gives the meaning of their name as 'protector of all living things'. The Zulu word Londolozi means 'protection' or 'preservation', while the one who is the protector, preserver or guardian is known as the 'umlondi'. The Londolozi Game Reserve is, therefore, not only the protector of all living things, against such things as poachers, veld fires, pollution, etc., but also the guardian and preserver of the environment and its ecological system.

Source: Pioneers of the Lowveld by Hans Bornman, 2006. ISBN 0-9584782-3-6


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