Latest Articles

Saartjiesnek Hartbeespoort

When you enter Hartbeespoort from Johannesburg or Pretoria there is a four-meter granite cross on top of the mountain at Saartjiesnek. Locals regard this sight as a beacon of homecoming.
The monument was erected in 1955 by Johan Schoeman in honour of his father, General Hendrik Schoeman.
Hendrik Schoeman started farming in the Hartbeespoort valley on the banks of the Crocodile River in 1868. The General was appointed on various occasions by the then South African government as negotiator and peacemaker between various conflicting groups and he made various attempts to negotiate peace between the SA government (Boers) and the British Empire during the South African War (Anglo-Boer War 1899 -1902).

Hendrik Schoeman and his son, Johan became the biggest farmers in the area and Johan developed the towns of Meerhof, Ifafi, Kosmos and Schoemansville.

Johan Schoeman

Johan Schoeman

Johan Schoeman

Gen. Hendrik Schoeman

Hendrik Schoeman

Gen. Hendrik Schoeman

Hendrik Schoeman died in 1901 in a bomb explosion in Pretoria. Johan Schoeman had an obsession to honour his father and his negotiation skills in the then troubled South Africa.

Johan Schoeman made a massive four-meter-tall granite cross and erected it on top of the mountain at Saartjiesnek on Christmas Day 1955.

Johan Schoeman and some other members of the Schoeman family are buried at the foot of the koppie.

At the foot of the cross was the inscription:

Hierdie simbool van tragedie en triomf van oorwinning in neerlaag is opgerig vir GENL HENDRIK SCHOEMAN deur ‘n groepie bewonderaars.
Wreed is die lot van die siener en die vredemaker.
Sy eensame weg voer steeds deur Getsemane na Golgota.
Dink aan Hess, aan Petain, aan die Gekruisigde.
Maar tragieser is die lot van die
wat sy raad met veragting
Opgerig 1955

This symbol of tragedy and triumph of victory in defeat has been erected for GENL HENDRIK SCHOEMAN by a small group of admirers.
Cruel is the fate of the prophet and peacemaker.
His lonesome path still leads through Getsemane to Golgota.
Think about Hess, about Petain, about the Crucified.
But even more tragic is the fate of those who reject his advice with contempt.
Erected 1955

The name “Saartjiesnek” could have one of several origins. One explanation is that it is an Afrikaans distortion of “Sergeant’s neck”, after a British sergeant, but this neck was of no real significance during the Anglo Boer War.

Another possible explanation has it that a certain Martiens Jones (The Joneses were residents of Welgegund and pronounced their surname in Afrikaans.), drove his mule driven scotch-cart through the neck when it was still quite impassable for other vehicles. For his scotch-cart with mules it was a shortcut to transport vegetables over the mountain. Other vehicles had to use the pass at the river, which was a considerable detour. Aunt Saartjie Mocke, who lived north of the mountain, for once became impatient and charged this shortcut with her horse-cart. Halfway up the neck, the beam of the cart broke and the old lady decided to walk. Martiens Jones had to go and repair the cart and bring it down again. Since then the neck was named after Saartjie.

When Johan Schoeman erected the granite cross on the prominent koppie on the northern slope, the koppie got the name of “Kruiskoppie on Saartjiesnek”.

More Hartbeespoort History: