This small inland town has a history that gives a true impression of its current economic importance
Whether addressed as KwaDukuza or as Stanger, this small town inland from Blythedale Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast has a history that belies its current size and economic importance.
The name was officially changed in 2006, but Zulu people living in the area had long called it Dukuza, and many others today still use the old name – with even new road signs inconsistent in their naming rights.
Around 1820 King Shaka founded KwaDukuza (meaning “place of the lost person”, given the labyrinth of huts that constituted his capital), but after his assassination in 1828 the town was razed. In 1873 European settlers built a town on the site and named it in honour of the surveyor-general of Natal, William Stanger
However, its role in South Africa’s political history extends beyond Shaka and the monument later erected in his honour as it is where Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former ANC president Albert Luthuli died. It is also another KwaZulu-Natal town in which Mahatma Gandhi’s influence is evident.
The Stanger North Coast Museum pays homage to the sugar barons who pioneered South Africa’s sugar industry in the 19th century, and KwaDukuza has a strong Indian presence thanks to indentured labourers who arrived to work the cane fields.
Since 2015 the town has been under major economic construction that includes its inaugural regional shopping centre, KwaDukuza Mall, due to open phase one in September, and the KwaDukuza Private Hospital that opened last month.
KwaDukuza mayor Ricardo Mthembu recently said the town would “go green” by 2030 after the attendance of municipal officials at the World Urban Forum in Malaysia, and the municipality’s launch in January of a waste minimisation project aimed at improving recycling efforts in and around the city.
Now in its pilot phase, the waste minimisation initiative involves installing separate waste bins across the CBD for glass, paper, plastic and general waste.
“KwaDukuza is one of few municipalities to sign the Compact of Mayors, and we continue to report globally on our efforts to promote energy efficiency. This approach fulfils our vision of being a competitive and global player as we progress towards becoming a sustainable city by 2030,” Mthembu says.
However, KwaDukuza is in dire need of municipal investment into service delivery. Garbage bags are piled in streets, roads in the CBD are potholed, and many buildings would benefit from maintenance and paint.
Residents were unhappy at the introduction of a paid parking management system in the CBD last November. Designed as a job creation initiative, the project introduced parking marshals operating hand-held tariff devices that several social media posts condemned as “another way to rob the taxpayer” by charging for parking that had always been free.
When completed, the KwaDukuza Mall will bring to the market 30000m² of retail shopping, a civic centre to function as a one-stop centre for government services and an amphitheatre. Developed by Edison Power founder and entrepreneur Vivian Reddy, the R1.5billion initiative will create more than 2000 direct and around 1900 indirect jobs for KwaDukuza. Reddy says the project will have more than 120 national, regional and local stores with 30% of space reserved for local businesses.
When opening its doors earlier this year, the R340million KwaDukuza Private Hospital became the first of its kind in the town.
In line with economic growth in KwaDukuza, there are various commercial and industrial property options available.
This week ChoProp Holdings South Africa brought a host of properties for sale and rent to the market. They include a 53m² office space in the CBD for R150/m², inclusive of water and sewerage; a 129m² space in the Market Plaza also demanding R150/m² for a site ideally located close to the station and taxi rank; and a 2600m² commercial space for R90/m2 that benefits from heavy foot traffic within the CBD.
Properties for sale include 1100m² office space and large yard space for R11m. Located in the CBD, the property has a floor space currently leased and the portion of the building operates as a spares shop. Also on the market is a 710m² light industrial property for R2.25m. The facility can be used for storing plant machinery, manufacturing blocks and pallets or any range of options, given its location close to the national N2 freeway and the regional R74 and R102 roads.
Another investment opportunity is a 1012m² building currently let out as a tavern and a separate shop. On the market for R1.65m, the tavern has a cold room and can be converted into a butchery, while there is also a residential component to the building that includes a fully-fitted three-bedroom apartment.
A large-scale investment includes a prime commercial property on the market for R25m. A former hotel, the property is located close to the major transport networks, including the taxi rank and the railway station, and has easy access to the national and regional road infrastructure.
The 3623m² building occupies a property of 5071m² and currently has one floor space leased. The building has 17 en-suite rooms, six shops, 1300m² ground floor and another 600m² below ground level.
Opportunities for commercial investment in the area
KwaDukuza has a host of properties ripe for revamping and redeveloping, particularly in the central business district. There is evidence this process has already begun, reflecting investors’ appetites for commercial enterprises.
When the KwaDukuza Mall opens its doors in September, it will be the first regional shopping centre in the town and will offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to rent space, establish formal business premises or expand their current initiatives.
The facility will house more than 120 national, regional and local stores with sites available from 50m² to 200m².
The town’s historical and political links provide opportunities for tourism initiatives based in KwaDukuza.
The surrounding area already forms part of the Inanda Heritage Route, while the natural beauty of the surroundings provides incentives for eco-based tourism.
North Coast growth
The ongoing conversion of former sugar cane land into commercial, residential and industrial land use will continue for decades. Started around Umhlanga, the progression has seen vast expanses of land redeveloped and rezoned along the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, and it will not be long before that expansion engulfs KwaDukuza and its surrounding areas.
Successful businesses operating in the area
A subsidiary of JSE-listed Metair Investments, Hesto Harnesses has manufactured wiring harnesses for the automotive industry since 1989. Today it remains among the largest employers in the KwaDukuza/iLembe region with more than 2 100 employees.
Gopal’s Shoe Service
Founded in 1959, Gopal’s Shoe Service specialises in shoe repairs and retailing branded footwear and leather goods.
Bismillah Restaurant and Take-away
This popular Muslim restaurant began as a dream for Jababul Hoque Bhabu Bhain and Rokeya Begum Rina Hoque in 1997 as the Pakastani couple wanted their own business to support their six children.They had operated a range of restaurant businesses in Karachi, and now apply their own recipes and home-made meals to their successful South African venture.
The health and beauty chain store in the area retails personal healthcare products, cosmetics and a host of other products to the local market. Hot Pot Restaurant and Take-away Entering KwaDukuza along Hulett Street raises a happy smile with the presence of the Hot Pot Restaurant and Takeaway’s brightly coloured awning advertising its Indian cuisine.