Lekwa Local Municipality has Standerton as its major urban node, whilst Morgenzon which is 45km north east of Standerton serves as a satellite node. The municipality is surrounded by the following local municipalities, Pixley ka Seme and Msukaligwa on the east, Dipaleseng on the west and Govan Mbeki on the north. In the south the municipality shares the boundary with Phumelela Local Municipality which is in the northern part of the Free State Province.
The Municipality is predominantly inhabited by Nguni speaking people. The following racial groups are found in the municipality: Zulu, Swati, Ndebele, Xhosa and Sotho and others.
The major town within Lekwa Local Municipality is Standerton. The town provides services for the surrounding mines, agriculture, power stations and tourism industries.
Vaal River transverses the municipal area and runs through Standerton.
The R23 connects the municipal area to Johannesburg, Volksrust, Durban and Newcastle.
Standerton is served by the national rail network which mainly transports coal with one passenger service route between Standerton and Richards bay.
Agriculture is the dominant land use in the municipality
Agriculture, mining and power generation are the key economic contributors towards the economy of the area.
Main Semi-urban areas
Most of the semi-urban areas within the municipality may be defined as hubs in terms of the current Spatial Development Framework (SDF) definition which says that hubs are small urban centres which are located within the rural areas, often at the crossroads of two important roads or along one major road possibly in close proximity to a parallel running railway They are fundamentally distribution centres for the rural areas providing a moderate range of services and economic activities.
There are only two hubs in the municipal area, namely Thuthukani Village and Morgenzon . Each of these is now described in more detail below:
The area is located at the intersection of the R35 and R39. The existence of the town is influenced by the transportation of coal from the Secunda complex to Majuba. The area shows limited diversification yet accommodates all basic social services.
Morgenzon and Sivukile form the last urban areas within the Lekwa local municipal area. Given the vast distance between this locality and the Standerton-Sakhile Urban node, Morgenron and Sivukile form a completely self-contained economic sub-node with a slightly different character than the former. It is characterised by a spatial pattern which on the one hand shows a high concentration of people per km2 (in the case of Sivukile Township) and a very low density part of town in Morgenzon. This pattern in a result of the historical legacy which led to the establishment of Sivukile as a worker town not intended for permanent settlement.
While this pattern may be viewed as a constraint in terms of the ability of Sivukile to develop into a viable residential area due to land availability and obvious limited infill land parcels, it provides huge opportunities for densification in so far as Morgenzon is concerned. The latter is particularly dominated by low density residential developments which may be sub-divided in future provided that the existing Engineering Infrastructure can support such sub-division. Such densification opportunities may practically only be implemented through the relaxation by Council of the minimum densities per hectare in Morgenzon where the majority of properties are in private hands. In order for voluntary infill-planning to take place in Morgenzon, it is proposed that similar guidelines like those proposed for Meyerville be adopted Another area of some spatial importance to Lekwa Local Municipality is Morgenzon, some 45km northeast of Standerton. This is historically a local service centre that served (and still does) the surrounding commercial farming areas with basic needs. Despite its potential due to its location along a major route (R35) to Volkstrust via the N11 from Bethal, it is still largely under-developed as a service centre due possibly to the competition offered by the more attractive business centres of Ermelo, Bethal and even Standerton itself.
- Thuthukani –
Thuthukani is located some 18km North-East of Standerton and it began essentially as a workers village for the Thuthuka Power Station which is situated about 3km east of the Village. It is divided into two main sections namely, the eastern section belonging to Eskom and the western section owned by New Denmark Mining Company (part of Amcoal Group).
Recently the Lekwa local municipality approved about 500 low-cost housing units to be built on the southern section of the Eskom part of the village. This is the first phase of an eventual take-over of the village by the local municipality as already most of the land here belongs to Lekwa local municipality According to information obtained recently from Eskom, there are about 336 stands (118 serviced and 218 un-serviced) which are still in Eskom's hands and the process of alienating these to the local municipality is currently underway.
The village presently has about 130 houses on freestanding stands and a further 60 cluster units. In terms of engineering infrastructure, the following summary is provided:
- Sewerage: Currently there is water-borne sewerage supplying the village as well as the planned 500 housing units.
- Potable water: Thuthuka Power Station currently supplies the village with drinking water. It appears that in the meantime Eskom will remain the supplier of the service to the community of Thuthukani.
Future possibilities for Expansion: Given the location of the village in relation to other sub-regional economic activities, it appears the chances of the village expanding beyond its current form are quite slim. This is also indicated by the fact that there are currently about 118 serviced stands which cannot be developed due to lack of interest from the open market and this despite the relatively good living environment within the village itself.