Mankweng

Mankweng Township is located in South Africa’s Limpopo Province Polokwane, Limpopo’s flourishing business capital is just 30 kilometers away. Mankweng is part of the Polokwane Municipality where it’s defined as Ward 25. 

Mankweng is famed for being the birthplace of the late Peter Mokaba, who was an anti-apartheid militant and also president of the ANC Youth League.

Landmarks

The University

Mankweng began developing in the 1960s when the apartheid government created the University College of the North as part of its policy of segregating education on racial grounds. Mankweng grew from the settlements that surrounded the university. Later, this university was merged with the Medical University of South Africa to form the University of Limpopo. The University lies at the foothills of the Hwiti area of Mankweng.

However, the university is not seen as contributing sufficiently to the development of Mankweng, Polokwane and surrounding areas. This is because many students of the region appear to want to study at the universities of Venda and Pretoria with the likelihood of them remaining in those regions after they graduate, rather than returning to develop their home area. This aside, the university still attracts other students from around the country, and from as far afield as North and East Africa. So great is the rising demand for university places that many locals have turned to offering bed and board facilities in their homes to house the students.

The Hospital and Library

Another notable landmark in Mankweng is the Mankweng Hospital Campus which serves as a primary hospital for communities in surrounding areas. It has a number of specialist clinical departments. The hospital was built on July 1 1988.

There is also a prominent library at Makweng which was made available to the public in 2009. It serves not only university students but the entire community.

Travel and Transport

People normally reach Mankweng from nearby Polokwane. The R71 is the major road linking the two areas. To commute, people take a bus, minibus or private taxi. The driving distance between Mankweng and Polokwane is 30 km and on a normal day, it would take 22 minutes to complete this distance.

However, the road is normally congested in the mornings and afternoons so it may take you longer to reach your destination. There are other fun ways to commute, though. Cycling will take you 46 minutes, walking, 5h30m and jogging, 2h50m.

The transport system in Mankweng is set to improve, though. Plans are in progress to strengthen various corridors stretching from Polokwane including the Mankweng to Polokwane Corridor with the provision of a possible rail link. There are plans also to create community centers serving the two.

Population Dynamics

According to South African government statistics, Mankweng has a population of 33,738. The vast majority are black African. Only about one-sixteenth of the population is a mixture of white, Indian, Asian and colored. The vast majority of people are urban dwellers with only about an eighth settled on a farm or rural area.

The number of households in Mankweng is 10,303 with the average household size being 2,9. Around 52,2 percent of households are female-led and 41 percent of residents are either fully-fledged homeowners or are in the process of buying their homes, but a total of 94,5 percent of people reside in formal dwellings. Nearly three-quarters of the Mankweng population have never married.

As far as age is concerned, young people aged 0-14 account for 25 percent of the population while the 15-65 age group which contains most of the workforce, accounts for 72,5 percent of the population. The elderly group – comprising those over 65 makes up just 2,4 percent of residents. The sex ratio is 86,7 with more males in virtually every age group.

In the income sphere, the distribution of income among households is as follows:

  • 33 percent – no income at all
  • 4 percent – income of R1-R4,800
  • 14 percent – income of R9,601-R19,600
  • 12 percent – an income of 19,601-R38,200 
  • 10 percent – an income of R76,401-R153,800
  • 4 percent an income of R307,601-R614,400

Education

About 37.5 percent of residents in Mankweng who are aged 20 and over, are educated to Matric level, which is the highest level of education. Those who’ve received some form of higher education in that age bracket, make up 29 percent of residents. In that same age group, those who’ve completed primary education comprise 2 percent of the population while those who’ve received no education at all, comprise 5 percent of the population.

Utilities and Gadgets

The use of utilities varies. While the percentage of flush toilets linked to the sewerage system is a high 85.2 and of electricity use is 79.6, only around 48,6 percent have piped water in their homes. Around 98 percent of residents source their water from the regional or local source.

The statistics for those who own different gadgets are as follows:

  • Refrigerator – 57 percent
  • Electrical or gas stove – 77 percent
  • Computer – 31 percent
  • Television – 57 percent
  • Satellite TV – 27 percent
  • Motor Car – 24 percent
  • Radio – 61 percent
  • Cellphone – 96 percent

The number of residents who have Internet access is slightly higher than those who don’t.

Languages

More than nine languages are spoken in Mankweng but close to 90 percent of residents speak Sepedi, the local language. Each of the other languages is spoken by less than 4 percent of people. These languages are: English (3 percent), IsiNdebele (1 percent), Isizulu (2 percent), Sesotho (0.5 percent), Setswana (1 percent), SiSwati (0.5 percent), Tshivenda (3 percent), and Xitsonga (4 percent).

Economy

When the university came into being as the University of the North, commerce and services linked to the university sprang up. This attracted many people and contributed to the grown of Mankweng Township. The building of the hospital brought even more growth. Steady growth has been recorded since then although many areas around the university still lack the basics in water, electricity and sanitation.

Many of Mankweng’s urban residents are public servants employed at the university, the hospital and the schools. Others work in economic service sectors such as shops and bank branches. There also streams of informal traders along the streets, bus termini and streets.

The rural areas are less developed with many involved in drought-driven agriculture. Few villages have basic services such as communal taps and electricity. They obtain water from wells and muddy river beds and they use kerosene and firewood for their energy. Statistics show that About 12 percent use paraffin for cooking, and 3 percent use paraffin or candles for lighting

Other Mankweng residents have migrated further afield to Polokwane and more developed surrounding areas to seek employment. Polokwane is the ever-growing service hub of Limpopo Province. It has a diverse and expanding service sector which includes agriculture, mining, utilities, manufacturing, transport, finance and tourism. There are plans to expand these services to other areas of the municipality.

Tourism

Mankweng Lodge offers accommodation to visitors with free parking and WiFi. The closest airport is Polokwane Airport which is 28 km away. The Lodge offers facilities to enable visitors to explore Mankweng township.

Turfloop Nature Reserve

Situated west of Limpopo University’s Turfloop campus, is the Turfloop Nature Reserve, surrounded by the Turfloop Dam. The reserve was originally created to protect this body of water and its wetlands. It is well-worth a visit although it hasn’t been given much prominence, and tends to be overshadowed by spectacular sites like Kruger National Park.

The nature reserve which lies within the communal land of the Mambolo Village, has an amazing landscape, filled with mountain bushveld that’s dotted with huge stone outcrops. This landscape is the perfect home for wildlife animals such as wildebeest, impala, ostrich and giraffe. These animals can easily be observed from afar.

The Mankweng Rock Art Site, which is located near Turfloop Dam is also a place visitors will enjoy.

On top of all this, the nature reserve offers a great bird-viewing experience. A number of wetlands birds can be found here including teals, grebes and ducks, the black-headed heron, the African spoonbill and the African sacred Ibis.

The Polokwane Game Reserve

Another place to visit, which is just 35 km away from Mankweng, is the Polokwane Game Reserve. It’s one of South Africa’s biggest municipal reserves and is a hit with the residents of Limpopo Province, and with tourists. It has among the finest examples of flora and fauna. It’s animal wildlife includes around 50 game species. Among them are giraffe, antelope and white rhino. The park is also a breeding ground for around 200 bird types. Its walking trail enables visitors to observe animals and birds in their natural habitat. Or they may go further afield, on the driving tracks, and observe even more wildlife. Plant enthusiasts will enjoy the multitudes of grass, plant and tree species. Polokwane Game Reserve is also a great place for mountain hiking and biking.