Xhariep District Municipality

Xhariep is named after the Gariep Dam, which is the largest dam in South Africa and is situated at the southern tip of the district. The District is located in a semi-arid region with a dispersed settlement pattern and is known as a place of endless space, and vast tracts of sheep and cattle farmland.

Xhariep is a typical rural district with 20 small towns and 3 remote towns which boast abundant natural resources such as water along the Orange River and numerous pockets of high potential agricultural land. Xhariep is bordered for most of its eastern border by the Maluti-Drakensberg Mountains. Hydrologically, the district is located between the Vaal River to the north and the Orange River to the south, with rivers within the district draining towards these rivers.

The Xhariep District Municipality (DC 16) is a Category C municipality and is situated in the southern part of the Free State. It shares its boundaries with Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality to its north, Eastern Cape to its south and Northern Cape to its west. To its east, Xhariep shares a border with Lesotho.

The municipality covers a surface area of 34 250km2 and it is the largest district in the province, making up just more than a third of its geographical area.

Xhariep District Municipality is comprised of three local municipalities: Letsemeng Local Municipality, Kopanong Local Municipality and Mohokare Local Municipality.

The administrative headquarters for Xhariep are in Trompsburg, which lies 125km south of Bloemfontein. The District is home to the largest dam in South Africa, Gariep Dam, which is situated at the southern tip of the District.

Three national roads the N1 (Gauteng to Cape Town), N6 (Eastern Cape to Bloemfontein) and N8 (Bloemfontein to Kimberley) pass through this District making it accessible to other parts of the country.

The vast distances between the various towns in the District make all communities dependent on the regional distribution roads for social as well as economic functioning. Most of these roads are however in a state of disrepair and especially the routes falling within the corridor areas will have to be upgraded and maintained as a matter of urgency. Land in Xhariep is either owned by private individuals, government, or the local municipalities. A large portion of the land is privately owned in the District.


“A community-oriented municipality, with a sustainable environment for business and economic opportunities”


  • To facilitate and support local municipalities, by promoting a healthy and conducive environment in our communities by ensuring that we deliver on our core functions.
  • Promote and inclusive society through social and cultural events.
  • Promote local economic development, by creating sustainable markets for local producers.
  • Ensure a sound political and administrative leadership.


  1. Provision of sustainable and accessible basic services to all.
  2. Provide a safe, healthy environment 
  3. Promote economic growth and job creation 
  4. Promote good governance, organizational development and financial sustainability


  • Leadership
  • Mutual Trust 
  • Confidentiality 
  • Anti-fraud and corruption
  • Integrity
  • Innovation and continuous learning 
  • Honesty 
  • Inclusiveness
  • Responsiveness 
  • Passion
  • Respect
  • Transparency
  • Accountability

Environmental Profile

Xhariep topography is generally low lying and undulating slopes with high altitude areas along the mountainous pockets in the southern part of the district. It is mainly covered by Eastern grasslands and dry Karoo savannas. In general, altitudes vary from 2060m above sea level at Bakenkop in the north-eastern quadrant to 1100 m above sea level in the western quadrant of the study area.

Despite the abundance of water resources at the Gariep Dam and the Orange River, various towns in the Xhariep district rely on ground water for their primary water supply. These towns include Petrusburg, Trompsburg, Fauresmith and Jagersfontein. Other towns use ground water as a supplementary and/or emergency source of water supply. These towns include Jacobsdal, Koffiefontein, Phillipolis, Springfontein, Edenburg, Reddersburg and Smithfield.


Two main drainage systems occur in the greater district area. The primary drainage system is the Orange River which drains 67 % of the area. The secondary drainage region is the Vaal River represented by the north-west flowing Modder and Riet Rivers which drain the remaining 33 % of the area. The major dams are the Gariep Dam, Bethulie Dam and Smithfield Dam. Other dams include the Vander kloof Dam, Kalkfontein Dam, Wuras Dam, Wolwas Dam and the Matungo Dam. Rivers include the Orange, Riet, Caledon and Tussen-die-Riviere. The Orange River, a 2 000 km long river, forms a natural border between Xhariep and the Cape. The country’s only two hydro-electric power stations are situated on the Orange River, at the Xhariep and Vanderkloof dams.

The Kopanong Municipal area is situated in the southern Free State. It has the largest surface area of the three local municipalities in the Xhariep district, covering 15 190 square kilometres (44, 5%).

The nine towns situated in Kopanong are;

  • Trompsburg (Municipal Head Office)
  • Bethulie
  • Edenburg
  • Fauresmith
  • Gariep Dam
  • Jagersfontein
  • Philippolis
  • Springfontein and
  • Reddersburg.
  • Letsemeng Local Municipality

The Letsemeng Local Municipality is situated in the south-western Free State and forms parts of the Xhariep district. It has a surface area of 10 192 square kilometres, which is 29, 8% of the total Xhariep surface area.

The Letsemeng Local Municipality is situated in the south-western Free State and forms parts of the Xhariep district. It has a surface area of 10 192 square kilometres, which is 29, 8% of the total Xhariep surface area.

The five towns situated in Letsemeng are;

  • Koffiefontein (2.33 km2)
  • Jacobsdal (60.36 km2)
  • Luckhoff (30.52 km2)
  • Oppermansgronde (335.18 km2) and
  • Petrusburg (22.1 km2)

Farmland constitutes 9730.22 km2 of the geographical municipal area.


The Mohokare Local Municipal area is situated in the south-eastern Free State and forms part of the Xhariep district municipality. It measures 8 748, 53 km2.The towns in the Mohokare Municipal area are Zastron, Smithfield and Rouxville. The municipality shares a border with Lesotho, with a distance of approximately 35km towards the border gate at the Makhaleng Bridge. It also shares provincial borders with the Eastern Cape, Ukhahlamba District, through the Maletswayi and Senqu Local Municipalities.

The three towns are situated in Mohokare Local Municipality are;

  • Zastron
  • Rouxville
  • Smithfield
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