Wenakker is a residential facility for the care of 250 intellectually disabled
adults in Lydenburg Mpumalanga. Established in Oct. 1969 by 6 concerned parents
and affiliated to the South African Federation for Mental Health. The
profoundly, old and severely disabled are cared for and stimulated in a safe and
secure environment. It's a non profit organisation (NPO. 009 224) and depends on
government subsidies, family contributions and fundraising.
At the centre we occupy the residents with normal house chores, creativity
centre and recreation activities.
The centre has 10 houses with a live in housemother who take care of their
needs. In our High Care Unit we care for 110 profoundly intellectually disabled
adults, with 24/7 nursing staff. Here we provide sensory stimulation combined
with creativity in a loving and caring environment.
THE HISTORY OF WENAKKER
opened its doors on the 7th of October 1969 in the then defunkt Loreto Catholic
Convent. The Loreto Convent was built in 1893 by the
The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose members were/are commonly known
as Sisters of Loreto. In 1877 Bishop
Charles Jolivet found that a large number of Catholics in the area of Lydenburg
was in need of a sanctuary. The Bishop managed to aquire the piece of land where
the convent was later built.
On the 11th of February the first pioneer nuns left Pretoria via
ox-wagon. Amongst them being SM Teresa Colohan, SM Berchmans Boyhan, SM Ignatius
Connel, SM Aloysius Tuohy and SM Evangelist O'Connor. It was reported that the
journey was made difficult by heavy rains and flooded rivers and it took them
six weeks to reach Lydenburg on 25 March 1893. Today we are fortunate enough to
make this very trip in less than 4 hours by motorcar.
The first Convent and School were opened in a small thatched
cottage. The present building in Church Street was erected a short while later.
The grounds were exstensive and contained plum, peach, pear and apricot
orchards. According to old records the Convent property was bought as early as
1880 by a certain Mr Kelly in the name of the Bishop Jolivet.
During the years 1924 to 1925 platinum mines were opened near
Lydenburg and the Convent was inundated with applications for would-be boarders.
According to records about 150 boarders attended. After closing of the mines
people moved away and the number of pupils declined rapidly.
As the number of vocations in the Institute showed a marked
decline throughout the world, it was decided to close the Lydenburg Convent and
to transfer the personnel to other centers. Loreto Convent was officially closed
Many old Lydenburgers such as the McGees, Donovans, Quilans, etc
was well as pupils from Sabie, Pilgrims Rest, Baberton, etc received their
education at the Convent.
The building and property was sold in 1971 to the Eastern
Transvaal Society for the Care of Mentally Retarded (Wenakker) to be used as a
(Above article condensed from the original article written by E
Judson, as published in the Lydenburg News, 23 October 1981)
Below: Wenakker made the front page of the Lydenburg News
paper in 1994 when it turned 25 years old.
Below: Wenakker Board & Senior Members - 1994. (from left
to right, front row) Mrs W Viljoen (secretary) & E. Prinsloo, Mr G. Floyd & Mrs
M. de Kock & H. de Sousa. (from left to right, back row) Mrs H. Verbeeck, K.
Prince (deputy director), S. Vosser (senior deputy director), G. Breedt, G,
Herbst, M. Markram (director), Ds W. Venter, & Mr P. Kestens & A. Fourie.
Below: Wenakker 2012