Vryheid is a centre for coal mining and ranching.
When Chetshwayo, the Zulu king, died on 8 February 1884, there was disagreement over the succession.
Chetshwayo's son, Dinuzulu, found himself opposed by dissidents , notably a resolute fighting chief, Zibbebu, who had been granted independence by the British in their efforts to bring peace to Zululand after the Anglo-Zulu War.
Dinuzulu's followers, the Suthu faction of the Zulus, were no match for Zibebu's fighting men, who also had the support of a number of European frontiersmen, who were friends of his, including John Colenbrander, who provided Zibebu with military guidance.
Dinuzulu was approached by a group of Europeans - mainly cattle men from the north of Natal, who granted to establish him as King of Zululand if he would reward them with farms. Dinuzulu accepted and about 800 European mercenaries rallied to his support.
They crowned him King of Zululand and then, with the Suthu army, set out to defeat Zibebu, which they accomplished in the battle of Ghost Mountain.
Dinuzulu then found himself in a predicament. If he rewarded each of the 800 mercanaries with farms of the size they expected, there would be nothing left of Zululand.
Eventually, 500 mercanaries each recieved a farm of 1600 hectares. Another 300 men who arrived late received smaller ones.
On the 5 August 1884 the mercenaries formed the so called New Republic with a capital called Vryheid ('liberty'), situated in northern Natal.
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