Original Research

Municipal engineers in Johannesburg and Pretoria before 1910

Harri Mäki, Johannes Haarhoff
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 5, No 2 | a138 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v5i2.138 | © 2009 Harri Mäki, Johannes Haarhoff | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2016 | Published: 04 April 2009

About the author(s)

Harri Mäki, Vaal Triangle Faculty of the North-West University, South Africa
Johannes Haarhoff, Department of Civil Engineering Science at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This paper examines the history of the first town engineers in Johannesburg and Pretoria by looking at the selection process that was applied in their appointment; their responsibilities; and the circumstances at the end of their tenures. It explores what was expected of municipal engineers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; shows how weak their position was within the municipal structure; and explains how vague their job description was in relation to their wide field of operation. It becomes clear that most early town engineers had no formal training for the positions they held and that there was added pressure from elected councillors in both municipalities who were prone to follow assiduously how officials were spending public money.


Municipal history; civil engineering; water supply; sanitation; Johannesburg; Pretoria


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