musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Voortrekker Memorial at Emma Park in Linden

When I first got interested in photographing memorials and monuments, I started to take a whole new interest in the Johannesburg Streetfinder because often these would be listed on the maps. However, trying to find them was always problematic, especially the Voortrekker Memorial in Emma Park in Linden. I was living close to Linden at the time and I had no idea that such a place even existed in the first place. The location was given as Emma Park, but frankly I really had to search to find it. The weather in 2007 was overcast and I revisited in 2011 so most of my images date from 25/11/2011

Once the Emma Park Koppie was found it was a different story to actually find the memorial and  I was not even too sure what I was looking for. Fortunately I bumped into the local cat lady who pointed me to the path that was in the undergrowth. 

Emma Koppie in Linden (2011)

Emma Park Koppie in Linden (2011)

A quick search revealed a bit more of the story behind the memorial. “The (oxwagon) Johanna vd Merwe was dragged up the Emma Park Koppie by members of the church (The NGK in Linden) and the Laerskool Louw Geldenhuys. At the top of the koppie the hoofs of the oxen were imprinted in stone and on the other side at the Voortrekker Hall, the wheels were also imprinted. Afterwards there was a party at Emma Park.” (Special thanks to Mignon and Hendrik at “Wamakerskloof” for the information.)  

During the 1838 Trek, a group under the leadership of Dirkie Uys was attacked.  Johanna van der Merwe survived with multiple assagai wounds to her face. Against all odds she managed to warn the other “Trekkers” of the impending danger.  To honour her heroism a wagon on the centenary trip was named after her.  South Africa also named a submarine after her (


There is a replica bronze wagon at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria; it was designed by Kobus Esterhuizen in 1971 and was based on the Johanna Van Der Merwe. It was originally donated to the National Cultural Museum in Boom Street, Pretoria who donated in turn to the Voortrekker Monument in 1995. Unfortunately I was not able to find the original wagon when I was at the VTM.

Bronze wagon at the Voortrekker Monument

Like so many places in South Africa the koppie was very run down and overgrown when I was there, and there was evidence of people sleeping in the bush. In fact, in 2007 there was an extremely drunk guy having a nap next to the memorial. 


Translated as:  

This was erected to commemorate the receiving of the Oxwagon.
‘Johanna van der Merwe’
 on 10 December 1938.
It was consecrated on 16 December 1939,
by Aunt G.M.E v.d.Merwe” )

But what about the hoofprints?

I returned to the monument in November 2011 to see what state it was in, and all I could see was that the koppie had been fenced and was more overgrown than before.

Close by is the local Voortrekker Hall, and it was there that a similar set of imprints were made, but I was not able to even get anywhere close to the building as it was fenced, however I did manage to zoom into the plaques against the wall.

Interestingly enough there is another Voortrekker Memorial at the Waterval Gemeente in the Newlands area and I photographed it in 2012.

And that was Emma Park, a little known piece of history that has been all but forgotten over the years. If it was stolen tomorrow the odds are that nobody would even notice.  Who was Emma? your guess is as good as mine, although it may refer to Emmarentia Geldenhuys, wife of Louw Geldenhuys who is buried in nearby Emmarentia

David Batzofin visited the monument in 2016, and you can read his impressions on his blog

© DRW 2007-2018. Retrospectively created 18/06/2016.  Edited 10/02/2018 after more information courtesy of Diederik Johannes Cloete, Some information from

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