Who Discovered The Main Reef?
23rd July, 1886, Mr Gerhardus Cornelis Oosthuizen (owner of section C of Langlaagte farm) writes to his friend president Paul Kruger:.. “I let you hereby know that Mr. Sors Hariezon has been to see me and has told me that the reef is payable and so I send him to you, then, Mr Kruger. You can talk to him yourself..”
On 24th July, 1886, George Harrison writes in an affidavit after he got to Pretoria:..”My name is George Harrison from the newly discovered Goldfield Kliprivier (note the name before Jozi was born) especially at a farm owned by a certain Gert Oosthuizen. I have a long experience as an Australian gold digger and I think it is payable goldfields..” This set in motion the biggest Gold Rush in the World’s history, and the birth of Johannes Burg!
However, there was other Georges who also claimed to have discovered the reef: George Walker and George Honeyball who were all prospectors. The story goes that Walker gave different versions of the discovery, but he was generally accepted as the discoverer and his tombstone in Krugersdorp bears an inscription to that effect. He died in 1924 aged 71. Honeyball on the other hand was an errant nephew of Mrs Petronella Oosthuizen, a widow, she owned section D of Langlaagte farm. He disliked Harrison, his statements of the discovery were found to be unreliable and contradictory. He died in1949 aged 91.
It wasn’t until later, in their authoritative and painstaking research, James and Ethel Gray (park with same names is named after them) found docs in the State Archives i. e. the petition that stated George Harrison as the discoverer and George Walker had signed it with others confirming that he too recognized George Harrison as the discoverer of the Main Reef. Probably the most telling proof was when they found claim No. 19 registered as a zoekersclaim (discoverer’s claim) under Harrison by Carl Von Brandis, Mining Commissioner at the time. This recognized Harrison as the discoverer!