Duke Mpapele of the African Proficient Group.
Valdezia, a residential area close to Elim with a long history linking it to the first missionaries in the region, is set to undergo a metamorphosis. A development group has signed a 100-year lease agreement on 1 000 hectares of land at Valdezia and plans to develop a shopping centre and small factories within the next two years.
The developer is African Proficient Capital, a subsidiary of African Proficient Group, headed by Duke Mpapele, together with its development partners. The owner of the land is the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of South Africa (EPCSA), also known as the Swiss Mission.
“This development will accelerate economic growth and job creation for the village,” said Mpapele. Mpapele, who was born and raised in Valdezia, is confident that the project will create numerous employment opportunities and will also make life easier for the residents, as they would no longer have to travel to nearby areas to access services such as banking.
Construction work is scheduled to take place in two phases. The first phase, with a projected budget of around R10 million, is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2019. The second phase, also with a R10 million budget, is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2020. “The development will attract reputable, affordable retailers in clothing, food outlets, banking services, grocery, hardware, hair and beauty, communication services such as Internet and postal services, vehicle spares and a service station,” the developers said.
The area earmarked for construction is currently undergoing a rezoning process with the Makhado Municipality. The application is for a retail centre, a fuel station, an entertainment centre and a factory that produces beauty products out of a plant found in the Valdezia area.
The moderator of the EPCSA, Reverend SPH Nyambi, was very excited about the project. “We could not have missed out on this opportunity to be partners in bringing development to the people of Valdezia where the origins of the church are deeply rooted,” he said.
The land where Valdezia is situated has a history that stretches back several centuries. It was one of the ancient Tsonga trading stations, where the traders stayed over when bringing their goods from the east coast. The Vhatsonga traded goods with, among other, the Bavenda. When large numbers of Tsonga people fled from the despotic rule from Soshangane in the early 1800s, they ended up in this area just south of the Soutpansberg mountain range. The Portuguese trader, João Albasini, came to the rescue of many of the refugees and was later considered to be one of their tribal chiefs. The area where they settled was then known as Klipfontein.
When the first Swiss missionaries arrived in 1875, they were given a friendly reception by Albasini and were allowed to establish a mission station among the Tsonga people. The area was renamed Valdezia, a name derived from the Swiss canton of Vaud, where the missionaries came from. The Swiss erected a clinic and the Valdezia Primary School in 1888 and Valdezia was also the forerunner of Elim hospital, which was established in 1899.
Date:14 January 2018 - By: Anton van Zyl
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror for over 27 years. He graduated at the the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.