Benoni at a glance

Benoni is a city on the East Rand in the South African province of Gauteng. It has since 2000 formed part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

Benoni was founded in 1881 by the then surveyor-general Johan Rissik, and was named Government Farm Benoni (son of my sorrow, the name of Rachel's son in the Book of Genesis), with the intention of assigning title deeds to the land once it had been claimed by the government.

In late 1887 Cornishmen established the Chimes Mine in Benoni after gold was discovered, and for a time Benoni was known as Little Cornwall.

During the Apartheid Era in South Africa Benoni's Suburbs were largely divided by race, with Daveyton and Wattville being established as townships for blacks, Actonville for Indians, whilst Benoni proper was reserved for whites only.

Today Benoni is a richly diverse area with over 600 000 inhabitants of all colour and denomination. There are over ten schools in Benoni, nearly ten Mosques, and many Islamic girls' schools - in some areas there is a concentration of up to 6 000 students within a 5km radius.

Over time the importance of gold mining in the town decreased and focus shifted rather to industry and services, today Benoni acts as a service hub for other East Rand towns like Brakpan, Nigel and Springs.

Suburbs in Benoni include Airfield, Crystal Park, Morehill and Western Extension, and visitors to the area can visit the many lakes, shopping centres, animal park as well as the internationally recognised community theatre. The Lakeside Shopping Mall was built in the shape of a Mississippi Steamboat travelling down the river.

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