The discovery of an 83.50 carat diamond on the banks of the Orange River in 1866 was to change the face of the country’s history forever. Fifteen-year-old Erasmus Jacobs discovered the transparent pebble on his father’s farm that led to be the beginning of the country’s diamond rush. The Colonial Secretary at the time, Sir Richard Southey declared that it was on the back of this discovery that the future success of South Africa would rest. How true this statement would come to be as over the next 15 years South Africa yielded more diamonds than India had produced in over 2000 years.
Today, Kimberly is the capital of the Northern Cape and post-1994 elections has seen the city develop into a legislative and provincial administration nucleus, spurring considerable development in recent years.
De Beers Consolidated Mines invested R50m into the Big Hole initiative in November 2002, which has become a world-class tourist destination with shops, restaurants and a unique insight into recovering rough diamonds. De Beers have been mining in the area for over 120 years and although underground mining in the area recently ceased, the mining giants have instituted a number of community projects and their presence in Kimberley continues.
The world-renowned Kimberly Hole which has a perimeter of 1.6km, yielded diamonds for almost 43 years to the value of over £50m, attracting prospectors from far and wide who came in search of their fortunes. Over 25 million tons of earth was removed by hand, and many lost their lives in collapses, while violent disputes over mining rights claimed the lives of others. The discovery of gold in 1886 added to the wave of immigrants and labourers that took up residence in South Africa’s most prosperous city. Today the hole is a huge tourist attraction that paints a picture of the hardships that many faced in search of that diamond in the rough.
Property in Kimberly has unfortunately succumbed to the recent recession that has gripped world markets, with sales volumes falling consistently since 2004. According to recent property sales statistics released by Lightstone, property price averages in Kimberly Central came in at R860 000 for freehold property and R294 000 for sectional title sales. The freehold sector of the market made up 73.81% of market stock with 38% of recent sellers having owned their property for more than 11 years.
Kimberly North however, had more affordable averages when compared to Central Kimberly, with freehold property averages coming in at R382 000 and sectional title figures reflecting the average price paid at R555 000. Freehold property in this suburb dominates with 98.51% of market stock falling into this category.
As seen in the past with property dips, all good things come to those who wait. If recent developments in Kimberly are a sign of things to come, it could be a case of watch this space. In a recent development Joe and Gavin Maloof who initiated the Maloof Money Cup World Cup Skateboarding Championships in the US, announced that for the first time part of the competition will take place away from American soil.
The South African leg of the competition will be hosted in a newly-built 100 000m2 skateboard park in Kimberly at the end of September. In addition to the flood of visitors expected in the area, the event will be televised internationally by Supersport towards the end of the year.