Southern Africa Philately
Bophuthatswana Philately - South African Homelands
Stamp Issues 1977 - 1994
First Day Covers - Collectors Sheets - Maximum Cards
By Otto Peetoom
Historical Background
The Tswana people entered South Africa from the north in three migrations between the years 1300 and 1600. The first of these migrations brought the Kgalagadi people, who were later followed by the ancestors of the present Rolong and Thlaping tribes. The third group settled in the south-western part of what is today the Transvaal province of the Republic of South Africa.
This group later divided into smaller groups, the most important of these being the Hurutse, Kwena and Kgatla tribes.

It is estimated that the Tswana migrants had reached the Eastern part of the present Bophuthatswana by the year 1600. During the ensuing two centuries many tribes became subdivided into smaller tribes. The Rolong split up into the Thlaping and other groups while the Hurutse divided into the Manyana, Thlaro. Khurutse and other smaller tribes.
The Kgatla tribes split into groups such as the Mosethla, Kgafela, Motsha and others. Another subdivision of the early Hurutse people, the Kwena, later split into the Fokeng, Mogopa, Modimosana and Phalane sections. During the troubled years between 1820 and 1840 the Tswana tribes were attacked and routed by warriors of the Matabele chief Mzilikazi and other aggressors.

After the advent of the White man the process of fragmentation of the Tswana people was gradually superseded by a process of amalgamation.
In 1977 75 autonomous tribes comprise the Tswana nation of Bophuthatswana and the population totalled 2,100,000 while the de facto population was estimated at 1,036,000.

Political development
The tribal wars that had disrupted the lives of the Tswana people for so many years came to an end when the Whites, who moved into the Transvaal during the middle of the previous century, intervened. The various Tswana tribes and groups then gradually moved back to the areas they had originally occupied. They were unified on 21 April 1961 when the Tswana Territorial Authority was established. The members of the Territorial Authority were nominated by regional authorities that in turn, were comprised of members nominated by the various tribal and community authorities established in terms of the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951.
Continued in next column

The Tswana Territorial Authority became a legislative assembly on 30 April 1970 and on 1 June 1972 the Tswana homeland became known as Bophuthatswana when the State President of South Africa declared its twelve districts a Self-governing territory within the borders of the Republic of South Africa. The Legislative Assembly adopted a constitution for Bophuthatswana that was drafted by the Tswana people to suit their particular needs.
The first general election was held on 4 October 1972.

During its session of November 1975 the Legislative Assembly gave Chief Minister Mangope a mandate to negotiate Bophuthatswana’s Independence with the South African Government. A joint cabinet committee and a seven-member working committee were then established to prepare for Bophuthatswana’s Independence on 6 December 1977.

Geographical and physical features
The land-consolidation proposals adopted by the South African Parliament in 1975 provide for Bophuthatswana to consist of six separate blocks. Except for Thaba Nchu. which is located in the southern part of the present Orange Free State, these areas are situated in the Western Transvaal and the North-western Cape Province.
The country has three river catchment areas - those of the Molopo, Limpopo and Vaal Rivers. The Molopo catchment area is characterized by dry, sand-filled river-beds. The tributaries of the Limpopo River drain the northern districts while the Harts River and its tributary the Dry Harts River mainly the Taung district. On account of its semi-arid Bushveld and grass-veld, Bophuthatswana is specially suited to cattle farming. The country is also rich in mineral deposits, which augurs very well for its future.

The country’s major industrial growth point is situated at Babelegi some 50 km north of Pretoria. Industries have also been established at Selosesha (Thaba Nchu), Pokeng and Montshiwa.At Babelegi 85 factories have already been established on an area of 176 ha. All available sites have been allocated to industrialists and 100 factories ought to be in full production at the end of 1977.

Bophuthatswana Brochure published by INTESAPA (1979)

6 December 1977


First Day Cover

Non Postal Blue-print gummed MS

Collectors Sheet (Folded)

Collectors Sheet (Small Folder) opened up

6 December 1977 - First Definitives
The issue was announced in the December 1977 edition of
The South African Philatelist and rerceived further attention
in the February 1978 SAP
Postal Stationery was also issued, Postcards (3c Inland)
a Registered envelope plus Aerogrammes (4c & 10c)

First Day of Issue Card with details of the Tswana Totems depicted on the stamps
The 4c value is the National Emblem of Bophuthatswana
Printed in Panes of 25

Producing Cylinder strips of 5
7 April 1978

Hypertension Month

First Day Cover

Collectors Sheet (Folded)
12 July 1978 - Road Safety

Collectors Sheet (Folded)

First Day Cover
3 October 1978 - Taung Stone Works

First Day Cover

Collectors Sheet (Folded)
1 December 1978

75th Anniversary of
Powered Flight

Collectors Sheet (Folded)

First Day Cover
6 December 1978

First Independence Anniversary

President Mangope was described as a Stateman
with a far-sighted vision
and a skilled negotiator
who led the people of Bophuthatswana to Independence on
6 December 1977

President Lucas Mangope

First Day Cover
Collectors Sheet (Folded)
28 February 1979 - Production of Sorghum Beer

Collectors Sheet (Folded)

First Day Cover
2 June 1979

World Heavy-weight
Title Fight

Kallie Knoetze (SA) - John Tate (USA)

First Day Cover
Initial World Heavy-weight Boxing matches in Africa
The first world heavy-weight title fight to be held on the African continent took place in Kinshasa, Zaire, on 30 October 1974, when Muhammed Ali regained the title from George Foreman. Five years later a second championship fight was held in Pretoria, South Africa. when Gerrie Coetzee met John Tate for the vacant WBA title. Coetzee lost the match in the 15th (last round) on points.

Kallie Knoetze (SA) vs John Tate (USA)
Knoetze (Born 1953 in Roodepoort) faced Tate at the Independence Stadium in Mmabatho, Bophuthatswana and lost in the 12th Round with a TKO.
The above issue marks the occassion of the Knoetze vs Tate fight.

Gerrie Coetzee (SA) vs Mike Weaver (USA)
When Gerrie Coetzee (Born 1955) stepped into the ring at Sun City, Bophuthatswana on 25 October 1980 to fight Mike Weaver for the World Boxing Association’s heavy-weight title it was only the third time in the long history of this division that a world heavy-weight championship fight was held in Africa.

A special stadium was built at Sun City (Superbowl) to accommodate a crowd of approximately 16000, and millions more around the world watched the fight live via television. Coetzee lost in the 13th out of 15 Rounds with a TKO.
Coetzee's boxing career included 40 fights, 33 wins, 6 lost and one draw.


Collectors Sheet (Folded)

Commemrative Cover
7 June 1979 - Year of the Child

Collectors Sheet (Folded)

First Day Cover
15 August 1979 - Platinum

Mining in Bophuthatswana
Bophuthatswana is rich in mineral deposits that were being exploited at 36 operating mines. The most important deposits are platinum, iron ore, manganese, sandstone, limestone, granite, chrome, fluorspar, nickel, vanadium, salt, copper and asbestos.

In the late 1970’s, five platinum mines provided employment for 57000 workers. One of the world’s largest platinum mines, the Impala Mine, operates in the Mankwe and Bafokeng districts. At two other platinum mines this valuable mineral is being mined partly on tribal land and partly on White-owned land in the Rustenburg district.


Vanadium is mined at the Ucar Mine in the Odi district asbestos in the Ganyesa and Thlaping- Thlaro districts and chrome in the vicinity of Rustenburg and Marico. There are also six granite quarries in Bophuthatswana. Three limestone mines are located in the Taung district. Other mines produce fluorspar in the Odi district and manganese in Lehurutse. Sandstone reserves are present in the country’s districts north of Pretoria.

Since 1969 the Bantu Mining Corporation has spent R527,740 on exploration in Bophuthatswana while the cost of exploration activities carried out by private enterprise amounted to R1,934,214 during the period 1972 to 1977.


First Day Cover

Collectors Sheet (Folded)
25 October 1979 - Agriculture

Agriculture in Bophuthatswana
As a result of the relatively low rainfall experienced in Bophuthatswana, the country’s main agricultural activity is stock farming, especially cattle farming. Although the turnover of cattle is higher than in most other Black states in Southern Africa, agricultural experts are convinced that the gross value of the country’s cattle can be considerably increased by better farming methods.
Bophuthatswana is partially situated in the most prosperous maize-farming area of Southern Africa. In 1974 the dry-land crops produced by Tswana
farmers totalled 34,500 tons of maize on 38,800 hectares, 7800 tons of grain sorghum on 13400 hectares and 3200 tons of wheat on 13100 hectares.

  The Lesedi Irrigation Scheme in the Taung district caters for individual farmers who grow wheat, maize, peas, groundnuts, lucerne and cotton under ideal conditions. Co-operative agricultural development projects were initiated and examples of successful ventures of this nature are cattle marketing, industrial plant production, a fish-breeding scheme and a co-operative dairy farm that provides Mabopane and other large towns with fresh milk.
Sisal is the most important industrial crop produced in Bophuthatswana. About 1600 hectares are under cultivation and the fibre is processed in the country.

Collectors Sheet (Folded)

First Day Cover
5 March 1980
Anti Smoking Campaign

Commemorates the first Anti-smoking act in Southern Africa in June 1979

First Day Cover

Collectors Sheet (Folded)
4 June 1980

Edible Wild Fruit

Above - First Day Cover

Left - Collectors Sheet (Folded)
10 September 1980


First Day Cover

Collectors Sheet (Folded)
6 December 1980 - Tourism

Above - First Day Cover

Left - Collectors Sheet (Folded)
30 January 1981

Disabled Year

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
1 April 1981 - Easter Stamps (1st Series)
31 July 1981

History of the Telephone
(1st Series)

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
25 November 1981

(1st Series)
29 January 1982

Anniversary of Boy Scouts

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
1 April 1982

Easter Stamps
(2nd Series)
3 September 1982

History of the Telephone
(2nd Series)

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
6 December 1982 - 5th Independence Anniversary
5 January 1983 - Pilansberg Game Reserve

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
30 March 1983 - Easter Stamps (3rd Series)
22 June 1983

History of the Telephone
(3rd Series)

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
14 September 1983

Veld Birds
20 January 1984

(2nd Series)

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet

2 April 1984 - 11c New Value
23 March 1984 - Easter Stamps (4th Series)
20 July 1984

History of the Telephone
(4th Series)

Collectors Sheet

Collectors Sheet
25 September 1984 - Lizards
25 January 1985

Health Care
11 March 1985

Mafeking Centenary

1 April 1984 - 12c New Value
2 April 1985 - Easter Stamps (5th Series)
4 July 1985

25 October 1985 - Bophuthatswana Industries - Second Definitives

2 April 1984 - New Value

1 April 1985 - New Value

1 April 1986 - New Value

1 April 1987 - New Value

3 July 1989 - New Value

3 August 1990 - 21c Additional Value - Bus Assembly
6 March 1986 - Easter Stamps (6th Series)

1 April 1986 - 14c New Value
15 May 1986
Historic Thaba ‘Nchu

1986 Foundation MS
6 August 1986 - Temisano Project
16 October 1986 - BOP Airways
22 January 1987


1 April 1987 - 16c New Value
23 April 1987

Wild Flowers

1987 Foundation MS & FDC
6 August 1987 - Places of Tertiary Education
4 December 1987 - 10th Anniversary of Independence
31 March 1988 - Easter Stamps (7th Series)
22 June 1988 - National Parks Board

1988 Foundation MS & FDC
15 September 1988 - Agricultural Crops
17 November 1988 - Water Conservation
4 April 1989
The Sun City Express
Commemorative cover and cancellation (S30)

The train speeds twice a week between Johannesburg,
Pretoria and Sun City, leaving on Saturdays and all public holidays at 0830 and returning at 2300, and on Sundays
at 0830 returning 2100

Getting to Sun City by Express means arriving fresh and alive, having breakfasted in Continental or English style at one
of the three sittings, and stretched out in one of the
aeroplane-design, tilted transit seats

There are three kinds of accommodation: suburban, transit
and sleeper, as well as a dining car, lounge and bar car
9 March 1989 - Easter Stamps (8th Series)
11 May 1989 - Children’s Art

3 July 1989 - 18c New Value
1 September 1989

Birds of Prey

1989 Foundation MS & FDC
28 Novemer 1989 - Traditional Houses
1 January 1990 - Community Services
11 April 1990 - Small Mammals

1990 Foundation MS & FDC
12 July 1990 - Sand Grouse
3 August 1990 - Added 21c Value - Bus Industry
4 October 1990

Traditional Crafts
12 December 1990 - 10th Anniversary of BOP Air Force
24 January 1991

Edible Wild Fruit
12 March 1991 - Easter Stamps (9th Series)
4 July 1991 - Steam Locomotives

1991 Foundation MS
12 September 1991

Old Maps of Africa

(1st Series)
9 January 1992 - Old Maps of Africa (2nd Series)
1 April 1992 - Easter Stamps (10th Series)
18 June 1992 - Acacia Trees
1992 Foundation MS
19 November 1992 - Sun City Complex (The Lost City)
12 February 1993 - Chicken Breeds

1993 Foundation MS
5 March 1993 - Easter Stamps (11th Series)
18 June 1993 - Trains

Miniature Sheet SG MS297
20 August 1993 - Old Maps of Africa (3rd Series)
25 March 1994 - Easter Stamps (12th Series)
The Above only includes the stamp issues and this page is far from complete
First Day Covers, Collectors Sheets and other features will be added

Web design by Otto Peetoom