You may recall the terrible fire that swept through Wuppertal in December last year.

Wupperthal fire 8

This remote but historic community lost everything they had relied on.

Moravian Church minister Reverend Martin Abrahams said the extent of the damage was widespread.

“We’ve lost a school hostel, which is supposed to house 220 children in two weeks’ time.

We’ve also lost a community hall, along with a shopping complex and restaurant.”

Wupperthal Devastation

But – with national and international help – the rebuilding has begun.

This is an update from Matt Stokes of Fruitful Futures, which is helping co-ordinate the effort.

Wupperthal Delivery

As a brief overview, the community have responded exceptionally well in the wake of the disaster though redevelopment work, frustratingly and owing to outside parties, has not yet begun.  A meeting is scheduled between ourselves, Heritage Western Cape (HWC – the main reason behind current delays in progressing) and other role players next week whereupon a firm plan of action will be put in place.

From a Fruitful Futures perspective, our fund raising efforts went and continue to go very well – to date we have raised in excess of R120K.


The received donations have been utilised to provide school uniforms for the children (photo attached – though we are looking to provide more) and supply an amount of diesel fuel to the town to enable the transport of the kids to and from the school to the outlying villages around the property.  A substantial amount of funding remains in the ‘pot’ which we await direction on from the church as to exactly how best to utilise.

The most exciting development we (as Fruitful Futures) have made though was to arrange for our partners at Birmingham City University (BCU)in the UK to send several of their leading academics down to help with redevelopment planning.  The party from BCU visited Wupperthal from the UK in early February (some images attached of delegates) and consisted of leading engineers, architects and renewable energies personnel who will now support redevelopment efforts within the town both now and into the future.

A long term development plan has been written by ourselves in conjunction with BCU for the region which not only looks at initial rebuilding but also way beyond this to provide for future security and growth also.

Wupperthal University Visit

I trust we will be in a position to offer firm updates towards the end of next week post our meeting with HWC whereupon we do expect that future plans will be finalised.

All photographs courtesy of Fruitful Futures.

Appeal for help

The families of Wupperthal desperately need help to rebuild their lives.

Financial assistance can be paid into the Moravian church account.
Acc name : Moravian Church in South Africa
Bank name : Standard Bank
Reference : Wupperthal Fire.
For international donors these are the details you need

Moravian Church in South Africa

Standard Bank

Account Number: 072906189

Reference: Wupperthal Fire

Address: Kenilworth Centre

Shop 32 A

Cnr Chichester and Converted Str

Kenilworth, 7700

Swift Code: SBZA ZA JJ

You can also donate via this page

The information below is from Bishop Augustine Joemath of the Moravian Church:

Official drop- off points for Wupperthal as accepted by the Church together with disaster management:

1. Belhar: Helena Goliath, 1 Plein Street, Belhar, Tel: 021 953 3088

2. Brackenfell: No 2 Swart Street, Morgenster, Brackenfell

3. Citrusdal: NG Kerk Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, Elouise Jonker, Cell: 082 831 0775

4. Clanwilliam: NG Kerk Clanwilliam, Elouise Jonker, Cell: 082 831 0775

5. Fish Hoek: 1 Antique Avenue, Capri (Fish Hoek/Kommetjie area) Cell: 082 443 3038

6. Fish Hoek: Gail Marais, 8 Ash Street, Milkwood Park, Sunnydale, Fish Hoek, Tel: 021 785 4199

7. Goedverwacht: Moravian Church Parsonage (Rectory), Contact person: Debby Booys

8. Goodwood: No 63 Paarl Street, Good wood, Cell: 082 738 2702

9. Graafwater: No14 Olienhout Street, Graafwater, Cell: 073 538 3848

10. Kuils River: AJ van Rooy-Brandt, 19 Dreyer Street, Kuils River, Cell: 076 686 5816

11. Mamre: Moravian Church, Church Street ( Church Office)

12. Mitchell’s Plain: 15 Kunene Way, Portlands, Marcia Pearl Stemmet, Cell: 083 486 1445

13. Parow Valley: No 9 Eland Street, Parow Valley

14. Piketberg: 23 Calendula Street, Ray van Rooy, Cell: 083 657 9615

15. Saron: 41 Church Street, Cell: 076 686 5816

16. Vanrynsdorp: Tourism Office. Megan Gelandt, Cell: 082 611 3999

17. Vredendal: Tourism Office, Megan Gelandt, Cell: 082 611 3999

18. Ravensmead: 58 Hennie Fortuin Crescent, Ravensmead, Gaylin Daniels, Cell: 074 899 9687


Historic importance of Wupperthal

The villages date back to 1830, when German missionaries came to spread Christianity to the people of what was then a wild and often violent frontier. Theobald von Wurmb and Johan Gottlieb Leipoldt established Wuppertal with seven Khoi (or Hottentot) families.

Wupperthal historic 1

The settlement grew with the abolition of slavery in 1838.

Leipoldt was a shoemaker and he established a shoe factory to provide some income for the community. ‘Velskoen’ as the shoes are known locally, are still made at a factory in the village. Many of the older villagers still remember the Moravian pastors who came from Germany, but today the church is run by the local community.

Wupperthal historic 5

The people depend on a variety of sources for their income. Rooibos tea – enjoyed around the world – is grown on small farms in the area. There is some tourism. Trails have been developed, to bring cash to local people, who rent out their homes to the hikers.

The town also has a unique culture, drawn from its Khoi-San and Christian origins.

Wupperthal dancers

But right now this wonderful community needs help. Please give what you can.


Wupperthal fire 7