Empangeni is a town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is approximately 157 kilometres north of Durban, in hilly countryside, overlooking a flat coastal plain and the major harbour town of Richards Bay 16 kilometres away. The N2 freeway runs east from Empangeni intersecting John Ross Highway (R34) which connects Empangeni and Richards Bay. The climate is sub-tropical with an average temperature of 28.4 °C in summer and 14.5 °C in Winter. The town is said, by local residents, to not have a real winter, as temperatures are seldom very low.


Humble beginnings

In 1851, the Norwegian Missionary Society established a mission station on the banks of the eMpangeni river. The river was named after the profusion of Mpange trees (''Trema guineensis'') growing along its banks. The mission was later moved to Eshowe, 61 kilometres north-west. In 1894 a magistracy was established. The Zululand Railway reached the town in January 1903 and linked the area to Durban and Eshowe. The government planted eucalyptus trees in 1905 as part of an experimental timber plantation. The plantation was a success and led to a large scale planting along the coastal belt. In 1906 Empangeni became a village. Rapid expansion began when a sugar mill was erected at Felixton. The establishment of the Empangeni Sugar Mill set the area on the road to rapid development. Empangeni was officially proclaimed as a township on 15 January 1931 and declared a borough on 13 October 1960.

The reign of the Hammerman

In the early 1980's Simon Mpungose terrorised the citizens of Empangeni during his spree of violent murders. The 35-year-old Mpungose was given the name ‘Hammerman’ because he would break into homes in the dead of night and kill the occupants with a hammer before robbing them of their possessions. When he was brought to trial in November 1984, shortly after his arrest that same year, the Empangeni court was told that Mpungose attacked many other people during violent robberies, but never touched the children of his victims. During the trial Mpungose stated that he wanted to die as he had a hard life, complicated by the actions of people who did not understand his plight. He sentenced him to hang, whereupon Mpungose threw his blue tracksuit into the public gallery, shouted, and threatened to expose his penis to the court before he was restrained with handcuffs. He was hanged a year later on Friday, 29 November 1985 in Pretoria.


Empangeni has a number of respected schools.

High schools

* Empangeni High School * St Catherine's Empangeni * Old Mill High School * Richem Secondary * Felixton College * Khombindlela High School

Primary schools

* Grantham Park * Heuwelland * Empangeni Preparatory School * Empangeni Educare Centre * Empangeni Christian School * Phesheya Primary school The main campus of the University of Zululand lies a short drive to the south and the Owen Sitole College of Agriculture to the north. . Siyakhanyisa primary School


Empangeni is home to a number of faiths, including Christian, Muslim, and Jehovah's Witness. Christianity is the dominant faith in Empangeni with a large number or operating church, amongst them are Christian Family Church, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Empangeni Methodist Church, AGS Empangeni, Victory Family Church, Full Gospel Church, Lutheran Church, Solid Ground Church, Empangeni Baptist Church, Uniting Reformed Church (Dutch), the Catholic Church, Holy cross and St Thomas in Felixton.

Notable people

*Vincent Koch, rugby player *Mildred Oliphant, politician *Ian Vermaak, tennis player *Muzi, musician *Schalk Brits, Rugby World Cup winning hooker *Matthew Mole, musician

Local media

* The Zululand Observer newspaper * Icora FM community radio station * Ikalamva Films

Ngwelezane township

Ngwelezane is a township on the outskirts of Empangeni. The township is home to the Ngwelezane Hospital,"Ngwelezane Hospital"
''KZN Department of Health'', 04 August, 2015 which services the area with 554 beds.


External links

{{Authority control Category:Populated places in the uMhlathuze Local Municipality Category:Populated places established in 1851 Category:1851 establishments in South Africa