Wenakker Frontal


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.



Bishop Charles JolivetLoreto CrestWenakker 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.

 Original Building

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.

Loreto Convent

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 in 1969.

Loreto Convent

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 training center.

(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.

Lydenburg News 25 years

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.

Wenakker Board 1994

Below: Wenakker 2012

Wenakker Today - 2012

Living units

Sleeping ward

Mess Hall





The name "Wenakker" was a stroke of genius. Anywhere else, but in the "wenakker" one expects a good harvest - but how thankful and grateful aren't we all when we reap success? (by W.K. Van der Spuy)

Just as the ear of corn is protected by the hands, the residents are sheltered in the security of the homogeneous community.
Wenakker Hoeksteen

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