Village Profile

We might know of it as the central business district of Dr. J.S Moroka but there is so much more to Marapyane than meets the eye. Today we take you our loyal reader to the beginning of this village, part two we will focus on Marapyane we see today, interview members of the royal family and of course the current Chief Moepi.

Maubane Matlhatsi

08 August 2020


The history of Marapyane is a long and rich one. The history begins in Botswana with Chief Mokgatla. The name Bakgatla was derived from his name and he ruled over the Bahurutshe tribe. After the passing of Chief Mokgatla, the tribe split into two sections, the Bakgatla ba Kgafela, who resided in Botswana, and Bakgatla ba Mosetla and Bakgatla ba Makau who went to live in the Transvaal area.

According to the history document titled Short History of the Native Tribes of the Transvaal published in the year 1905 by the then Transvaal Natives Affairs Department, the history of Marapyane started in the 1800 particularly in 1852, during the reign of Chief Mogale over the Bakgatla in Transvaal, they further split into smaller sub-groups namely the Tabane and Motsha group. During this time the bakgatla did not only find themselves in disputes alone. They went into a dispute over the land with the Boer people in Rustenburg and they then retreated to the Matlaba river but the move was not permanent as the people later relocated again.  Some Chiefs were allowed to purchase some of the lands in the Pretoria district which enabled the smaller groups of the Bakgatla to create their sub-tribes. Some of the Bakgatla people settled in Makapanstad and the Bakgatla ba Motsha settled in Schildpadfontein, presently known as Marapyane.

The Bakgatla ba Motsha tribe was ruled over by Chief Tabane, who was Chief Mogale’s brother. The settlement in Schildpadfontein did not come with peace within the Bakgatla ba Motsha tribe. After Chief Tabane’s passing, his sons Liale and Matlaisane got into a dispute over the Chieftainship. Liale was driven out and went to form the Ma-Kau section and Matlaisane was left to rule over Schildpadfontein.

The Chieftainship went down to Motsha, Matlaisane’s heir who was named after the tribe then went down to Motsha’s son Ratlhagane who then gave the Chieftainship to his heir Maubane. During the reign of Maubane, there was a dispute in the royal family which led to the establishment of the Moepi’s, who then went on to rule over Schildpadfontein until the present day.

The village has come a long and it has created its own culture and heritage in the time it has been established. It has become one of the fastest growing villages in South Africa rich with agriculture and business. The descendants of Chief Tabane still reside in Marapyane and still teach us about the rich history.

In the next part of this series we will then look into Marapyane and the jurisdiction it covers, as The Village Mag, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Chief TM Moepi; the current chief of Marapyane for opening his doors and allowing us the opportunity to conduct this interview with him. Furthermore, we would like to thank Chief Moepi for providing us with the document Short History of the Natives Tribes of the Transvaal, the document is also available here on the Wits University’s website, had it not be because of him it would not be possible to compile this history. See you on the next issue.