Across The Sandy Plain

For seventeen years after Van Riebeeck’s departure, the settlement did not extend beyond the sandy plains skirting the peninsula, principally because of continued Khoikhoi resistance. When the resistance crumbled by the end of the 1670s, the Company decided to extend the settlement across the sandy plain. There were now 142 adult free burghers, half of them farmers. Simon van der Stel, who arrived in 1679 as commander of the Cape settlement, was entrusted with the task of supervising the expansion.

In 1679 Simon van der Stel founded the settlement of Stellenbosch some 50 km away from the fort in Table Bay. Shortly afterwards the government built a drostdy, the seat of local government, and appointed an official as landdrost, and four burghers as heemraden, or councillors.

The government set no legal limits for the size of the farms in the Stellenbosch settlement. With the market far away and the road tough to travel on, land suitable for arable agriculture was mostly used for grazing. Very much the same pattern unfolded in Drakenstein (later called Paarl), French Hoek, Tygerberg, Wagenmakersvallei (Wellington), Swartland (Malmesbury) and the Land van Waveren (Tulbagh), all settled by the end of the first decade of the eighteenth century.

The arrival of the Huguenots

German immigrants

Three momentous decisions

Endorsing food production by burghers

Perpetuating slave labour

Opting for unsystematic colonisation

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