Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.
view all

Profiles

  • Nikola Stipinovich (1880 - d.)
    info from Klement Derado, Ivan Cizmic - Iseljenici otoka Brača 1982g
  • Stefanija Popovich (Stipinovich) (1888 - 1962)
    info from Klement Derado, Ivan Cizmic - Iseljenici otoka Brača 1982g
  • Roko Sinovich (1909 - d.)
    info from Klement Derado, Ivan Cizmic - Iseljenici otoka Brača 1982g.
  • Juraj Sinovich (1901 - d.)
    info from Klement Derado, Ivan Cizmic - Iseljenici otoka Brača 1982g.
  • <private> Jericevich (Hire) (1893 - d.)

Croatian Settlers in South Africa

Summary

The 2013 census of South Africa indicated that it's total population was nearly 53 million. It is estimated that the total of Croatian immigrants and their descendants living today in South Africa to be about 7000-8000 , however this figure is not accepted by all researchers, as some believe the true figure to be much less.

Timeline of Croatian immigration

Pre-European Settlement - before 1652

  • Although it is known that ships from Europe (Portuguese and Ragusan ships with trading interests in Goa, India) sailed past the Cape of Good Hope and may have established temporary camps, there are no records of the involvement of Croatian sailors. (ref.1.) (ref. 2.)
  • Adam Eterovich speculated about the Croatian sailors who traveled around the Cape of Good Hope with Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama but could not identify any individuals. (ref. 3.)

Dutch Cape Colony 1652–1795

  • Mursalo notes that a few individual Croatian settlers (mainly sailors from Dalmatia and Dubrovnik) , arrived in the Cape only a hundred years later, in the middle of the 18th century.

British Cape Colony 1795–1910

  • At the start of the 19th century, only a few Croatian immigrants had settled in the Cape Colony, as the hinterland had not yet been explored and opened up, even South America was seen as offering more opportunities . With the discovery of diamonds and gold within the territories of the Afrikaner republics (Oranje Vrijstaat, Gosen, Stellaland and Transvaal) , many Croatians together with countless fortune seekers of many other nationalities traveled inland. This was not a mass immigration as one source has stated as many of these new arrivals perished in the primitive conditions that they found, and even more of these "settlers"eventually moved off to seek other opportunities elsewhere, in California, and Australia.
  • J. Martinich, C. Ratsic and J. Krinic (Krnic) left South Africa and returned to Croatia in 1883
  • Among those who left was Pavao Vidas, (ref.4.) whose great granddaughter Vera Tadic, came to South Africa many years later as the Croatian Ambassador to South Africa.
  • A smaller section of those Croatian arrivals, remained and settled in the Afrikaner republics between 1872 and 1890. These Croatian immigrants arrived from territories which were controlled by the Habsburg Monarchy, and were considered to be Austrian subjects.
  • In 1875, according to the census register, 85 men and 15 women of Croatian origin lived in Cape Town.
  • Up to the turn of the 19th century, Croatian migration should be considered to be mainly driven by economics, by adverse conditions in their homeland. The allure of South Africa, diminished somewhat by the impact of the two Anglo-Boer Wars.
  • After hostilities ended, about 65 Croatians who had expressed vocal support of the Boers were deported as undesirables by the British.

Union of South Africa 1910–1961

  • The start of the 20th century, saw restrictions on Croatian immigrants. Croatians who had failed to obtain an entry permit for South Africa, settled in Mozambique.
  • According to the census of 1911, 1504 people who had originated from the Austro-Hungarian territories were living in the Union of SA, many of them Croatians. They had settled in the urban areas, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Stellenbosch, Simonstown, Pretoria, Pilgrim’s Rest, with the majority living in Johannesburg.
  • Croatian immigrants experienced difficult times during the WWI as they were regarded as Austrians and were treated as enemy subjects, by the authorities of the Union of South Africa. //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/c5/e3/b8/04/534448427f6502c0/ww1_internees_small.jpg
  • During 1915-1919, more than 300 male able bodied Croatian settlers were interned at camps at Fort Napier in Natal and at Standerton near Johannesburg.
  • Croats also came to South Africa from Australia during the early 20th century, these included Antonio Tomasic-Dezulic.Ivan Vojkovic, Ivan Letic, Marko Brojcic and Petar Bilis
  • After the 1920s, owing to political difficulties in their homeland, there was a new reason for emigration, and better educated Croatians began to arrive to SA, with 349 Croatians settling between 1923 and 1933.
  • The work of the first honorary consul of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Danilo Štrekelj, a Slovene appointed in 1930 proved to be unsatisfactory to the local Croats, eventually he was replaced by George Anton Sinovich, for the time period 1937-1945, after WW2 another Slovene N Vidmar , a professional diplomat was appointed by the new Yugoslav regime.
  • //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/95/05/16/ef/534448427f6502bd/nosnje_1956r_small.jpg In 1929, the Croatian Cultural Club “Stjepan Radić” was founded in Johannesburg, this would later be renamed as the Yugoslav Progressive Club, by the 1960's it had disappeared, and was replaced by the "Hrvatski Dom".

Republic of South Africa 1961 onward

  • During and shortly after WWII, again due to political changes, there was further emigration. In the years 1939-1950 263 Yugoslavs came to South Africa, among which were many Croatians.
  • Statistics, from 1961-1978, show that another 1671 Yugoslavs, half of them Croatians, went to SA.
  • Croats also came from Argentina, who came to South Africa as economic conditions there deteriorated these included the Murkovic, Pavusek, Dobrovic, Holub, Hibl (aka Hübl), Surkalo and Framic families.
  • Dr. Josip Fanjek arrived from Ethiopia and Drago Pavlic from Pakistan
  • TA Mursalo with his family arrived in 1971 from the UK
  • Other families that came from Croatia at that time were ; Kuljis (Vis), Buljanovic (Split), Novak (Hvar), Sore, Stegic and Karamarko, plus others who were not listed in Mursalo's book.
  • Croats also came to South Africa from Australia during the 1970's, these included Gabre Petricevic, four Leko brothers, Drago Bratus and family and Jozo Orec.
  • In the 1980s, a small number of Croatians arrived from Bosnia.
  • The collapse of the Yugoslav Republic after the Balkan wars of 1991-1995 led to more emigration to South Africa (and elsewhere) this time consisting mainly of educated young professionals, some of whom eventually returned to Croatia. Many of these were mixed couples who chose not to maintain links with the Croatian Community in South Africa
  • Recently (2015-2016) a number of young Croatians were working under short-term contracts with the maintenance and expansion of South Africa's power generation infrastructure.
  • //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/80/b8/65/90/53444842579be553/c_1994_jhb_nm_tm_small.jpg In 1994, South Africa recognized the Republic of Croatia
  • For further information regarding Croatian Emigration consult the document produced by Croatian researcher Ivan Cizmic

To partake in any project


- you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!

How to Participate

  • Please add the profiles South Africa Croatian settlers (not their entire families and descendants just the progenitors!) and also those of prominent, famous, influential South Africans from that part of the world. This is easily done from the profile page using the Add to project link.
  • If you have any queries related to these settlers please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
  • Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
  • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page. In order to do this use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.
  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.

List of Croatian Immigrants by regions

The historical names of regions are used as these appear in the source material

Cape Colony

  • Franciscus Drago (1781-1806) settled in Cape Town around 1784, after serving with the Dutch East India Company.
  • Josip Cigancic (aka Joseph Macer Zeganzig) settled in Cape Town around 1785, after serving with the Dutch East India Company.
  • Jeronim Marinković became a farmer, changed his surname to Marincowitz and established the farm "Vrolykheid", which is still in existence . His descendants prospered because of the pioneering work of Gerolemo Marincowitz, their great-grandfather, who arrived in Cape Town in 1829.
  • Captain Vicenzo Zibilich died in Cape Town in 1804 aged 42 years
  • Captain Gabriel Francisco Madenic, boatman Paul Mattowich also settled in Cape Town
  • Nicholaas Mattowich, in the early 1860s became a liquor dealer and was the first Croatian own an inn (the Blue Anchor Inn) in South Africa.

Coastal Regions (including Western Cape, Natal)

Namaqualand

  • Ivan Tarabocina - from Mali Losinj, arrived at Port Nolloth around 1895
  • Frederico Turina - from Senj, arrived at Port Nolloth around 1895

Natal

Interior (including Orange Free State and Transvaal)

Orange Free State

  • Jercinovic, Klaric, Crnkovic, Karlic, Balas and others helped to build the Bloemfontein Supreme Court in the 1920's.
  • Klement Malinaric, an architect/builder, who built St. Patrick's Cathedral in Kokstad in 1924
  • The Mavric brothers were among those who built the Bloemfontein Hospital, also in the 1920's (see below)

Transvaal

  • Jure Sinovčić, born 1868, came from Mirca, Brač and settled in Pretoria in 1899. IOB
  • George Anton Sinovich started with a small farming business inherited from his father Jure, which he built up into substantial food and alcoholic drinks manufacturing enterprises. He was the owner of National Wineries and Distilleries Ltd., Sinovich Canning Company (Pty.) Ltd. and Les Marais, Pretoria North and Pyramids Farms.
  • Tadija Sinovčić - from Mirca, Brač IOB and his wife
  • Nata Sinovich (Kirigin) - from Mirca, Brač IOB
  • Sinovčić, Ante - born 1919, arrived 1932, from Mirca, Brač IOB
  • Sinovčić, Josip - born 1866, arrived 1937, from Mirca, Brač IOB
  • Sinovčić, Juraj - born 1901, from Mirca, Brač IOB
  • Sinovčić, Roko - born 1909, from Mirca, Brač IOB
  • Angelo Stipinovich - from Mirca, Brač, lived in Pretoria
  • Stefa Popovich (Stipinovich) - from Mirca, Brač IOB
  • Nikola Toich - lived in Pretoria
  • Ivan Mavrić (1903-1990) and his wife Barbara (1908-1982) - came from Novi, they are buried in Johannesburg
  • Josip Oreč (1937-1978) arrived from Australia, lived in Bellvue East, Johannesburg, he was murdered by a Jugoslav state security agent (UDBA), buried in Johannesburg
  • Giuricich Brothers originally from Mali Losinj, are a well known construction firm on the Witswatersrand.
  • Mate Čekalović - arrived in 1897 from Ložišća, Brač
  • Marija Basich (Culich) - lived in Johannesburg
  • M. Pavlicević, G. Soldo, A. Miljak, Z. Fabris and P. and V. Lovrich of Cape Town. Then there were engineering shops, one that belonged to V. Razlog, who was a supplier to the mining industry and another, Croatia Engineering in Rosslyn near Pretoria which was owned by S. Kraljević.
  • Benic Watch Centre in Randburg was well known
  • Dr Krešimir Zembić from Zagreb, and who worked for the Johannesburg Dept of Health
  • Tomislav Kukuljević and his brother Franjo Kukuljević settled in this country and owned a factory for sporting wear (Onitsuka Tiger brand) as well as a sports equipment shop located near the Jeppe Post Office in central Johannesburg.
  • Ivan Sekul arrived from Bobovišća, Brač and settled in Roodepoort in 1905. Probable grandson Robert born 1936, granddaughter Heather born 1940.
  • Franjo Puncec, a tennis champion of Yugoslavia, and a Wimbleton semi-finalist, escaped from Post-WW2 Yugoslavia and ended up in South Africa.
  • Ivo Buratović another sporting Croatian, who had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, also settled in Johannesburg.
  • Hrvoje Ostojić published two volumes of Croatian poetry in Johannesburg
  • Ivan Bajić - came from Žeževica to Johannesburg in the 1920's
  • Ignaz Fabris came from Pelješac
  • Vicko Andrijich (1904-1989)
  • Ante Odak, from Herzegovina, settled in Johannesburg - he was awarded the Red hrvatskog trolista/Croatian Order of the Croatian Trefoil
  • Stjepan Vicko Balić from Katuni, bought a piece of land in Braamfontein, in the 1930's which later became the site of the Johannesburg Civic Centre, he died in 1948, his descendants still live around Johannesburg
  • Joe Barbarovich owned and ran the The Radium Beerhall in Orange Grove Johannesburg from 1944 until 1986 - this could be the Jozo Barbarović from Brač who Mursalo reported as arriving in Johannesburg in 1899.
  • Ivan Barbarovich (1916-1998)
  • Bernice Vukovich, nee Carr, daughter of Ante Car from Pelješac, was the South African Junior Tennis Champion in 1954 and 1955. and in 1958 and 1960 South African Senior Tennis Champion. She represented South Africa as a Springbok throughout the world, including matches played at Wimbledon in England.
  • Marko Korunich (1906-1982) from Smokvica, Korčula - who worked at the Crown Mines near Johannesburg and his wife
  • Sofija Korunich (Celestin) (1912-1995) from Hreljin are both buried in Johannesburg
  • Ivan Kuzma Grgurin - from Kaštel Kambelovac, arrived mid 1930's
  • Petar Tulić - arrived from Korčula
  • Darko Jasprica from Janjina, Pelješac
  • Tania Glavović - parents from Pelješac, worked for the SABC as a researcher and producer of documentaries.
  • Ant one time, some 60 butcher shops on the Witswatersrand were owned by Croats or their descendants. One of the early butchers Srecko Bijelović was a Commissioner of Oaths, life member of the Red Cross, vice-chairman of the Master Butchers Association and chairman of Brakpan Chamber of Commerce. One of his sons, Nikola, was also chairman of Brakpan Chamber of Commerce for three years. Another son, Edo, was the chairman of the Master Butchers Association for the Witwatersrand.
  • Marko Baleta, Petar Baleta and Ivan Baleta (1912-1986) from Grabovac
  • Nikola Primich came from the USA, Gaspar Primich - butcher Johannesburg
  • Pero Barac from Pelješac
  • Mladen Marinovich (1928-2014) - came from Korčula, his son Greg Marinovich, is a well known author and photojournalist, who now lives in USA.
  • Jakov Matulovich, came from Korčula
  • Pjerina Jeričević - from Korčula, lived in Johhannesburg
  • Josip Murković from Lika area, went to Argentina first, lived in Johannesburg, died in Zagreb, one daughter still lives in RSA
  • Đuro Vuković, originally from Slavonski Brod, arrived in the 1930's with his son Vlado Vuković from Caracas
  • Ante Puljević (1917-1991) from Metkovic and his wife
  • Marija Puljević (Dužević) (1919-2012) from Bogomolje
  • Jozo Maslov, from Kresevo, near Omiš, arrived from Punta Arenas, Chile, lives in Johannesburg
  • Mate Jeričević from Korčula, whose sons Ivan and Mark were co-owners of Seemans Butchery
  • Ante Blagović and Tereza Blagović - originally from Istria, lived on the East Rand
  • Nikola Hire - a widower from Bobovišća, Brac, died in Johannesburg in 1920
  • Vinka Jericevich (Hire) from Bobovišća, Brac
  • Tripo Vucinović died in an accident in one of the shafts belonging to the French Company, in 1882.
  • F. Knezović, S. Vrdoljak, M. Spaleta, J. Knezović, A. Mestrović, G. Miholović, who had a dairy, L, Opotić was a contractor, A. Vrnjas a farmer and Mato Vitković, reputed to be the first Croatian butcher on the Rand.
  • Petar Grgin arrived from Kaštel Sućurac
  • Drago Loncar from Zagreb, arrived in 1928, settled on the Rand, owned a bakery in Boksburg, the Marathon Tearoom in Johannesburg and, in 1941 the Horseshoe Beer Hall and Restaurant in Harrison Street. After selling his business in Harrison Street, he bought the New Market Beer Hall
  • Stanko Plišić (1932-2011)
  • Dr. Zdravko Sutej, a prominent advocate and a State Counsel arrived after WW2
  • Dr. Milan Martinović from Jamnička Kiselica, a pre-war politician and a well known member of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) arrived after WW2
  • Dr. Jure Spuzević, an ex judge arrived after WW2
  • Dr. R. Šalek, a pre-war diplomat arrived after WW2
  • George Mrkusić, a chemical engineer, came in the 1950s, worked for African Explosives and Chemical Industries. He was chairman of Federale Kunsmis, and a director of numerous companies.
  • Pero Alfirević developed a transport business.
  • Danilo Dracevac, from Lumbarda in Korčula, also ran transport business on the East Rand, now retired.

Eastern Transvaal

  • Ivan Miho Kuculo and Julius Kuculo - brothers from Pelješac, in 1904 established a store in Pilgrims Rest. When Julius died in the 1920s his death certificate described him as a "store and gold mine owner".
  • Stipan Lebedina prospected for emeralds, died in 1944 in Barberton Hospital, leaving in his estate seven base metal claims all around Pietersburg in the Transvaal.
  • Andrew Lizerevic (Lazarevic?) - from Parc,Dalmatia, arrived in South Africa well before 1867, he died in 1877 in Pilgrims Rest
  • Petar Lopin from Peljesac was a store owner
  • Ivan Moporic died aged 37 on 20th March 1891 at Komati Spoorweg (Komati Railway).
  • Josip Stipec from the Croatian Littoral was the proprietor of the famous Pilgrims Rest Royal Hotel during the 1950's

Neighboring Territories and states

Mozambique

  • Filip Dicca a native of Mostar, having been refused an entry into South Africa, landed at Lourenco Marques, and ended up with a brewery, leather tanning factory, plants making sparkling mineral water and non-alcoholic drinks, an import/ export company, two cinemas and a paper factory. After his death in 1949, he was succeeded by his brother Petar Dicca. The Diccas were major cheese manufacturers in Mozambique and at one time supplied about 12% of all milk in that country. From the business proceeds the Dicca Trust was formed, from which a number of students benefited as recipients
  • Constantine Jovanovic
  • Paskijevic from Zagreb, mined antimony ore near Beira in Mocambique.

Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

  • Mursalo lists the following - Tasilo Rukavina, Frank Juretic, Paul Pavlovich, Pavle Rosich, Pavle Boskovich, Frans Josip Brnich and George Jokovich - refer to the Croatians in the Central African region for more details

Northern Rhodesia (Zambia)

Belgian Congo (Zaire)


The following list of people was on the CiSA website, (extracted from Mursalo's book). It would be good to link some of these people to profiles on Geni.


  • Nikola Brajevic was unable to buy a farm in Pretoria during WW1
  • Nikola Tus was unable to run his quarry business in Umtata during WW1, which also cost some 300 Croatian miners on the Reef their jobs.
  • Mato Karlovic, born in Rosario, Argentina of Croatian parents in Rosario, Argentina, went to Croatia as a child and came to South Africa in 1910, first employed as a woodworker he went on to become a builder. Apart from a number of private houses, he also built a tobacco factory, a brewery in Mocambique for Filip Dicca, two factories for non-alcoholic drinks and a plant for the manufacture of ice.
  • Inka Polic, an opera singer of Zagreb, came to South Africa after WW2 and taught at Pretoria University.
  • Towards the end of 1958 about 90 Croats, destined to work for Anglo American Mines, came to this country. They were young men, aged between 15 and 25, most of them were from Dalmatia, and came to this country on a four year contract.

Notes

//s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/5e/47/b4/e1/53444843091c9c38/cs_isoab_small.jpgThe book by T.A Mursalo "In Search of a Better Life" remains the best (and unfortunately only) starting point for English speaking researchers. His later book , published in Zagreb in 2003, "Hrvati na Jugu Afrike", is mainly a translation of his earlier book, with many of the flaws inherent in his first book, still remaining uncorrected. Nevertheless, both books provide valuable but limited information, as he was not able to fully research the subject. The other books available on the subject are almost all in Croatian, and were produced by researchers who had visited South Africa for a very short period, and who had interviewed a very limited number of local Croatians and who then based their monographs upon the content of those interviews, so the flaw that all these books share, that of only covering a small section of the total number of Croatian settlers in South Africa, must be recognized.

Mursalo makes quite clear in his books, that there were three categories of Croats who arrived in Southern Africa, these being;.

  1. Those who had left their homes for economic reasons,
  2. those who had left for political reasons and
  3. those who arrived as economic opportunists and who later returned to their ancestral homes. About a third of all Croatian emigrants fall into this group according to a document on Croatian Emigration by Ivan Cizmic

It is also possible to sub-divide those who had permanently settled in South Africa, into two groups;

  1. those who maintained links with their ancestral home (point of origin) and
  2. those who became assimilated into South African society and who no longer identified with the ancestral homeland.

Mursalo's books, provide a great deal of detail on those who had settled in South Africa and who had retained a sense of community with other Croatians. He was able to provide some information on a few of those who had become assimilated, but in most cases, these Croats and their descendants, no longer bothered to maintain links with their families in Croatia, nor did they participate in the social and cultural life of the local Croatian community, and regarded themselves as fully South African (albeit with strange surnames that they could no longer explain)

The arrival of Croatian settlers to Southern Africa was documented by Mursalo, in terms that were appropriate for the time when his book was written, and with a focus on the Croatian settlers and their lives in Southern Africa. Consequently, certain terms and attitudes prevalent to that era are recorded in his book, some of which have now become offensive (viz. the "eating houses" referred to in his book, are preceded by a word derived from the Arabic word for "unbeliever", and which was undoubtedly first used by Arab slave traders when referring to their captives. Today, that word is regarded as an obscenity, and was always very offensive to the indigenous population and those who quote the term directly from Mursalo's book demonstrate their unfamiliarity with current South African society and customs.

The social, political and economic factors that affected Croatian immigrants to South Africa, must not be ignored. Many Croatians came during the boom years following the discovery of diamonds and gold. The Anglo- Boer Wars and their aftermath, were incredibly disruptive. Britain was able to impose far reaching changes within it's African colonies, in order to create a readily available labour force which was needed to serve the mining industry. This not only meant the disenfranchisement of the indigenous population, which gave rise to äpartheid policies in order to maintain the status quo, but other groups of the population were also impacted, these lead to the Labour Riots during the early part of the 20th century.

Croatian settlers saw economic opportunities fade after the end of the Anglo Boer Wars, and many of them moved elsewhere or returned to their homeland. Mursalo only gives a few names for those who returned, but it must be pointed out, that the internment of Croatian settlers, who were viewed as Austrian (hence enemy) citizens by the British authorities during the First World War (1914-1918) brought additional suffering and hardship.

As Mursalo's first book was researched in the 1970's and came out over thirty years ago, many of those who are listed in his book are no longer alive and of those surviving, some have moved elsewhere. Additionally, there are a number of typographical errors in his book, an example, he lists a "Ladislavich" which is a invalid surname, and which should have been written "Vladislavich".

Sources and Further Reading

Books

  • //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/5e/47/b4/e1/53444843091c9c38/cs_isoab_small.jpg In Search of a New Life - TA Mursalo
  • //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/7d/f6/2e/87/53444842303c4151/book-jaih_small.jpg Južna Afrika i Hrvati (2000) - A.Laušič, J. Anic
  • //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/c1/81/0a/90/53444842303c414f/book-kjr_small.jpg Kroz Južnoafričku Republiku - Ivan Hettrich
  • //s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/61/f4/0a/95/534448422bb16568/book-iob_small.jpg Brački zbornik : Iseljenići Otoka Brača (1982) - Klement Derado i Ivan Čizmić

References

  1. N. Talan - "Croats and the Portuguese Indies"
  2. Ragusan colony of St Blaise, Goa
  3. see above "Are Croats (amongst) the first settlers in South Africa?" and "Croatians in South Africa and at Goa (India) in 1508"
  4. Mursalo reported in his last book, that Vidas had returned to Croatia shortly after the end of the Anglo Boer War
  5. Mursalo mentions Elria Wessel's book "They Fought on Foreign Soil", During the Second Anglo-Boer War, some 30 Croatians, already citizens of the Orange Free State or Transvaal, were active on the Boers’ side in the war (note that not all these were fighting, some served as doctors and medical orderlies), however the total number of Croats was very small considering the 2,500 odd foreign citizens who are recorded as having participated in the Anglo Boer Wars on the side of the Boers. This total figure includes a couple of hundred Scandinavians, with many Dutch, German, French and American volunteers. There was also a contingent of 225 Russians, who included individuals from the neighboring Baltic states. Additional info is in the book "The Russians and the Anglo-Boer War" by Davidson and Filatova

Related Geni Project Pages:

External Links of interest

Croatian Settlers in South Africa

Summary

It is estimated that there are about 7000-8000 Croatians and descendants of Croatians living today in South Africa.

Timeline of Croatian immigration

Pre-European Settlement - before 1652

  • Although it is known that ships from Europe (Portuguese and Ragusan ships with trading interests in Goa, India) sailed past the Cape of Good Hope and may have established temporary camps, there are no records of the involvement of Croatian sailors. (ref.1.) (ref. 2.)
  • Adam Eterovich speculated about the Croatian sailors who traveled around the Cape of Good Hope with Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama but could not identify any individuals. (ref. 3.)

Dutch Cape Colony 1652–1795

  • Mursalo notes that a few individual Croatian settlers (mainly sailors from Dalmatia and Dubrovnik) , arrived in the Cape only a hundred years later, in the middle of the 18th century.

British Cape Colony 1795–1910

  • At the start of the 19th century, only a few Croatian immigrants had settled in the Cape Colony, as the hinterland had not yet been explored and opened up, even South America was seen as offering more opportunities . With the discovery of diamonds and gold within the territories of the Afrikaner republics (Oranje Vrijstaat, Gosen, Stellaland and Transvaal) , many Croatians together with countless fortune seekers of many other nationalities traveled inland. This was not a mass immigration as one source has stated as many of these new arrivals perished in the primitive conditions that they found, and even more of these "settlers"eventually moved off to seek other opportunities elsewhere, in California, and Australia.
  • Among those who left was Pavao Vidas, whose great granddaughter Vera Tadic, came to South Africa many years later as the Croatian Ambassador to South Africa.
  • A smaller section of those Croatian arrivals, remained and settled in the Afrikaner republics between 1872 and 1890. These Croatian immigrants arrived from territories which were controlled by the Habsburg Monarchy, and were considered to be Austrian subjects.
  • In 1875, according to the census register, 85 men and 15 women of Croatian origin lived in Cape Town.
  • Up to the turn of the 19th century, Croatian migration should be considered to be mainly driven by economics, by adverse conditions in their homeland. The allure of South Africa, diminished somewhat by the impact of the two Anglo-Boer Wars (ref. )
  • After hostilities ended, about 65 Croatians who had expressed vocal support of the Boers were deported as undesirables by the British.

Union of South Africa 1910–1961

  • The start of the 20th century, saw restrictions on Croatian immigrants. Croatians who had failed to obtain an entry permit for South Africa, settled in Mozambique.
  • According to the census of 1911, 1504 people who had originated from the Austro-Hungarian territories were living in the Union of SA, many of them Croatians. They had settled in the urban areas, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Stellenbosch, Simonstown, Pretoria, Pilgrim’s Rest, with the majority living in Johannesburg.
  • Croatian immigrants experienced difficult times during the WWI as they were regarded as Austrians and were treated as enemy subjects, by the authorities of the Union of South Africa. During 1915-1919, more than 300 male able bodied Croatian settlers were interned at camps at Fort Napier in Natal and at Standerton near Johannesburg.
  • After the 1920s, owing to political difficulties in their homeland, there was a new reason for emigration, and better educated Croatians began to arrive to SA, with 349 Croatians settling between 1923 and 1933.
  • The work of the first honorary consul of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Danilo Štrekelj, a Slovene appointed in 1930 proved to be unsatisfactory to the local Croats, eventually he was replaced by George Anton Sinovich, for the time period 1937-1945, after WW2 another Slovene N Vidmar , a professional diplomat was appointed by the new Yugoslav regime.
  • In 1929, the Croatian Cultural Club “Stjepan Radić” was founded in Johannesburg, this would later be renamed as the .Yugoslav Progressive Club.

Republic of South Africa 1961 onward

  • During and shortly after WWII, again due to political changes, there was further emigration. In the years 1939-1950 263 Yugoslavs came to South Africa, among which were many Croatians.
  • Statistics, from 1961-1978, show that another 1671 Yugoslavs, half of them Croatians, went to SA.
  • Croats also came from Argentina, who came to South Africa as economic conditions there deteriorated these included the Murkovic, Pavusek, Dobrovic, Holub, Hibl, Surkalo and Framic families.
  • Dr. Josip Fanjek arrived from Ethiopia and Drago Pavlic from Pakistan
  • Croats also came to South Africa from Australia
  • TA Mursalo with his family arrived in 1971 from the UK
  • Other families that came from Croatia at that time were ; Kuljis (Vis), Buljanovic (Split), Novak (Hvar), Sore, Stegic and Karamarko, plus others
  • In the 1980s, a small number of Croatians arrived from Bosnia.
  • The collapse of the Yugoslav Republic after the Balkan wars of 1991-1995 led to more emigration to South Africa (and elsewhere) this time consisting mainly of educated young professionals, some of whom eventually returned to Croatia. Many of these were mixed couples who chose not to maintain links with the Croatian Community in South Africa
  • For further information regarding Croatian Emigration consult the document produced by Croatian researcher Ivan Cizmic

To partake in any project


- you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!

How to Participate

  • Please add the profiles South Africa Croatian settlers (not their entire families and descendants just the progenitors!) and also those of prominent, famous, influential South Africans from that part of the world. This is easily done from the profile page using the Add to project link.
  • If you have any queries related to these settlers please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
  • Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
  • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page. In order to do this use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.
  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.

List of Croatian Immigrants by regions

The historical names of regions are used as these appear in the source material

Cape Colony

  • Franciscus Drago and Josip Cigancic settled in Cape Town, after serving with the Dutch East India Company.
  • Jeronim Marinkovic became a farmer and established the farm "Vrolykheid", which is still in existence. . He and his family prospered because of the pioneering work of Gerolamo Marinkovic, their great-grandfather, who arrived in Cape Town in 1829.
  • Captain Vicenzo Zibilich, Captain Gabriel Francisco Madenic, boatman Paul Mattowich settled in Cape Town
  • Nicholaas Mattowich, in the early 1860s became a liquor dealer and was the first Croat own an inn (the Blue Anchor Inn) in South Africa.

Coastal Regions (including Western Cape, Natal)

Natal

Interior (including Orange Free State and Transvaal)

Orange Free State

  • Klement Malinaric, an architect/builder, who built St. Patrick's Cathedral in Kokstad in 1924
  • Jercinovic, Klaric, Crnkovic, Karlic, Balas and others helped to build the Bloemfontein Supreme Court in the 1920's.
  • The Mavric brothers were among those who built the Bloemfontein Hospital, also in the 1920's

Transvaal

  • George Anton Sinovich started with a small farming business inherited from his father Jure, which he built up into substantial food and alcoholic drinks manufacturing enterprises. He was the owner of National Wineries and Distilleries Ltd., Sinovich Canning Company (Pty.) Ltd. and Les Marais, Pretoria North and Pyramids Farms.
  • Nata Kirigin from Mirca
  • Tadija Sinovčić from Mirca
  • Angelo Stipinovich - Pretoria
  • Nikola Toich - Pretoria
  • Mate Cepkovic from Brac arrived at the end of the 19th century
  • Josip Oreč (1937-1978) arrived from Australia, murdered by Jugoslav state security agent (UDBA), buried in Johannesburg
  • Giuricich Brothers originally from Mali Losinj, are a well known local construction firm,
  • Igor Kabalin an architect/builder (son of Anselmo Kabalin from Zambia), has a private profile on Geni, moved to NZ
  • Marija Basich Johannesburg
  • M. Pavlicevic, G. Soldo, A. Miljak, Z. Fabris and P. and V. Lovrich of Cape Town. Then there are engineering shops, one that belongs to V. Razlog, who is a supplier to the mining industry and another, Croatia Engineering in Rosslyn near Pretoria owned by S. Kraljevic.
  • Benic Watch Centre in Randburg was well known
  • Dr Krešimir Zembić from Zagreb, worked for the Johannesburg Dept of Health
  • Tomislav Kukuljevic and his brother settled in this country and ran a factory for sporting wear (Onitsuka Tiger brand) and a sports equipment shop near the Jeppe Post Office in Johannesburg.
  • Franjo Puncec, a postwar tennis champion of Yugoslavia, and a Wimbleton semi-finalist, escaped from Post-WW2 Yugoslavia and ended up in South Africa.
  • Ivo Buratović another sporting Croatian, who had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, also settled in Johannesburg.
  • Hrvoje Ostojic published two volumes of Croatian poetry in Johannesburg
  • Ignaz Fabris from Peljesac
  • Ante Odak, from Herzegovina, settled in Johannesburg - Red hrvatskog trolista/Croatian Order of the Croatian Trefoil
  • S. Balic bought a piece of land in Bramfontein, in the 1930's which later became the site of the Johannesburg Civic Centre.
  • Joe Barbarovich owned and ran the The Radium Beerhall in Orange Grove Johannesburg from 1944 until 1986
  • Bernice Vukovich, nee Carr, daughter of Ante Car from Peljesac, was the South African Junior Tennis Champion in 1954 and 1955. and in 1958 and 1960 South African Senior Tennis Champion. She represented South Africa as a Springbok throughout the world, including matches played at Wimbledon in England.v
  • Darko Jasprica Janjina
  • Tania Glavovic whose parents came from Peljesac, worked for the SABC as a researcher and producer of documentaries.
  • Some 60 butcher shops on the Witswatersrand were owned by Croats or their descendants. One of the early butchers Srecko Bijelovic was a Commissioner of Oaths, life member of the Red Cross, vice-chairman of the Master Butchers Association and chairman of Brakpan Chamber of Commerce. One of his sons, Nikola, was also chairman of Brakpan Chamber of Commerce for three years. Another son, Edo, was the chairman of the Master Butchers Association for the Witwatersrand.
  • Marko Baleta and Ivan Baleta from Grabovac,
  • Nikola Primich came from the USA, Gaspar Primich - butcher Johannesburg
  • Pero Barac from Peljesac
  • Greg Marinovich well known author and photojournalist, now lives in USA.
  • Josip Murkovic from Lika area, went to Argentina first, lived in Johannesburg, died in Zagreb, one daughter still lives in RSA
  • Djure Vukovic, originally from Slavonski Brod, arrived with son Vlado Vukovic from Caracas
  • Jozo Maslov, from Omis, arrived from Chile
  • Mate Jeričević from Korcula, whose sons Ivan and Mark were co-owners of Seemans Butchery
  • Tripo Vucinovic died in an accident in one of the shafts belonging to the French Company, in 1882.
  • F. Knezovic, P. Baleta, S. Vrdoljak, M. Spaleta, J. Knezovic, A. Mestrovic, G. Miholovic, who had a dairy, L, Opotic was a contractor, A. Vrnjas a farmer and Mato Vitkovic, reputed to be the first Croatian butcher on the Rand.
  • Drago Loncar. Born in Zagreb he came to South Africa in 1928, settled on the Rand, owned a bakery in Boksburg, the Marathon Tearoom in Johannesburg and, in 1941 the Horshoe Beer Hall and Restaurant in Harrison Street. Finally, after selling his business in Harrison Street, he bought the New Market Beer Hall, which he ran successfully for a number of years.
  • Dr. Zdravko Sutej, a prominent advocate and a State Counsel arrived after WW2
  • Dr. Milan Martinovic a pre-war politician and a well known member of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) arrived after WW2
  • Dr. G. Spuzevic, an ex judge arrived after WW2
  • Dr. R. Šalek, a pre-war diplomat arrived after WW2
  • George Mrkusic, a chemical engineer, came in the 1950s, worked for African Explosives and Chemical Industries. He was chairman of Federale Kunsmis, and a director of numerous companies.
  • Pero Alfirevic developed a transport business.
  • Danilo Dracevac, from Lumbarda in Korcula, also ran transport business on the East Rand.

Eastern Transvaal

  • Andrew Lizerevic arrived South Africa well before 1867, died in 1877 in Pilgrims Rest
  • Ivan Moporic died aged 37 on 20th March 1891 at Komati Spoorweg (Komati Railway).
  • Ivan Miho Kuculo and Julius Kuculo from Peljesac in 1904 established a store in Pilgrims Rest. When Julius died in the 1920s his death certificate described him as a "store and gold mine owner".
  • Stipan Lebedina prospected for emeralds, died in 1944 in Barberton Hospital, leaving in his estate seven base metal claims all around Pietersburg in the Transvaal.
  • Petar Lopin from Peljesac was a store owner
  • Josip Stipec from the Croatian Littoral was the proprietor of the famous Pilgrims Rest Royal Hotel during the 1950's

Neighboring Territories and states

Mozambique

  • Filip Dicca a native of Mostar, having been refused an entry into South Africa, landed at Lourenco Marques, and ended up with a brewery, leather tanning factory, plants making sparkling mineral water and non-alcoholic drinks, an import/ export company, two cinemas and a paper factory. After his death in 1949, he was succeeded by his brother Petar,. The Diccas were major cheese manufacturers in Mozambique and at one time supplied about 12% of all milk in that country. From the business proceeds the Dicca Trust was formed, from which a number of students benefited as recipients
  • Paskijevic from Zagreb, mined antimony ore near Beira in Mocambique.
  • Constantine Jovanovic

Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)

  • Tasilo Rukavina who worked initially as a shift boss in the Copper Belt mines and from there moved to Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). In 1935 he pegged and sold the Kamtchatka Mine, near Bulawayo in the Fort Rixon area and it produced gold until 1939 . Rukavina went on establishing various mines. He was exploring the main areas of his manganese ore exposures, the Marocco and Sheffield, when he died in a motor accident in 1961.
  • Frank Juretic from Grobnik near Rijeka. He first came to the Transvaal in 1897. During the Boer War he served as a policeman on the Boer side. He went back home in 1901 but a few years later returned to Southern Africa, in1912 he went to Southern Rhodesia, working as a carpenter but also was owner of two gold mining claims, one in Sinoia and another in Shamwa. At the start of the First World War he was interned as an Austrian subject, and lost his mining claims. He died in 1946 in Ndola, Zambia. He left a son, also Frank, who became a well-known personality in Copper Belt mining circles .
  • Paul Pavlovich from Dubrovnik - late 19th century
  • Pavle Rosich from near Rijeka arrived abt 1891 - member of Rhodesian Pioneer and Early Settlers Society
  • Pavle Boskovich from Istanbul arrived 1895
  • Frans Josip Brnich from near Rijeka arrived 1897
  • George Jokovich from Vela Luka, Korcula arrived 1897
  • Antun Matkovich from Vrbanj, Hvar - his sons moved to Natal, RSA and are related to Dale Hayes.

Northern Rhodesia (Zambia)

  • Anselmo Kabalin played rugby in the early 1930's for the Northern Rhodesian team. He later moved to Johannesburg.
  • Frank Juretic jnr, held the position of secretary of the Employers Panel of Mining joint Industrial Council in Zambia, published papers on mine shaft sinking and in 1952 received a prize from the London-based Institution of Mining and Metallurgy.
  • Piero Toich buried in the Nkana cenetery

Belgian Congo (Zaire)

  • Toma Kukura from Vis
  • Ljubo Ljuba from Zlarin in 1902
  • Rade Nikolic from Hungary
  • Roger Vucenovic from Dalmatia in 1913
  • Ivan Ziberina 1913

The following list of people was on the CiSA website, (extracted from Mursalo's book). It would be good to link some of these people to profiles on Geni. As Mursalo's book came out over thirty years ago, many of those listed below are no longer alive and of those surviving, some have moved elsewhere. -


  • WW1 stopped Nikola Brajevic from buying a farm in Pretoria, pulled away Nikola Tus from his quarry business in Umtata and cost some 300 Croatian miners on the Reef their jobs.
  • Mato Karlovic, born in Rosario, Argentina of Croatian parents in Rosario, Argentina, went to Croatia as a child and came to South Africa in 1910, first employed as a woodworker he went on to become a builder. Apart from a number of private houses, he also built a tobacco factory, a brewery in Mocambique for Filip Dicca, two factories for non-alcoholic drinks and a plant for the manufacture of ice.
  • post-war settlers who came to South Africa was Inka Polic, an opera singer of Zagreb, who taught at Pretoria University.
  • Towards the end of 1958 about 90 Croats, destined to work for Anglo American Mines, came to this country. They were young men, aged between 15 and 25, most of them were from Dalmatia,.came to this country on a four year contract. Among them was a Mr. A. Odak
  • Recently(2015-2016) a number of young Croatians were working under contract with the maintenance and expansion of South Africa's power generation infrastructure.

Sources

The book by T.A Mursalo "In Search of a Better Life" remains the best starting point for English speaking researchers. His later book , published in Zagreb in 2003, "Hrvati na Jugu Afrike", is mostly a translation of his earlier book, with many of the flaws inherent in his first book, still remaining uncorrected. Nevertheless, both books provide valuable but limited information, as he was not able to fully research the subject. The other books available on the subject are almost all in Croatian, and were produced by researchers who had visited South Africa for a very short period, and who had interviewed a very limited number of local Croatians and who then based their monographs upon the content of those interviews, so the flaw that all these books share, that of only covering a small section of the total number of Croatian settlers in South Africa, must be recognized.

Mursalo makes quite clear in his books, that there were three categories of Croats who arrived in Southern Africa, these being;.

  1. Those who had left their homes for economic reasons,
  2. those who had left for political reasons and
  3. those who arrived as economic opportunists and who later returned to their ancestral homes. About a third of all Croatian emigrants fall into this group according to a document on Croatian Emigration by Ivan Cizmic

It is also possible to sub-divide those who had permanently settled in South Africa, into two groups;

  1. those who maintained links with their ancestral home (point of origin) and
  2. those who became assimilated into South African society and who no longer identified with the ancestral homeland.

Mursalo's books, provide a great deal of detail on those who had settled in South Africa and who had retained a sense of community with other Croatians. He was able to provide some information on a few of those who had become assimilated, but in most cases, these Croats and their descendants, no longer bothered to maintain links with their families in Croatia, nor did they participate in the social and cultural life of the local Croatian community, and regarded themselves as fully South African (albeit with strange surnames that they could no longer explain)

The arrival of Croatian settlers to Southern Africa was documented by Mursalo, in terms that were appropriate for the time when his book was written, and with a focus on the Croatian settlers and their lives in Southern Africa. Consequently, certain terms and attitudes prevalent to that era are recorded in his book, some of which have now become offensive (viz. the "eating houses" referred to in his book, are preceded by a word derived from the Arabic word for "unbeliever", and which was undoubtedly first used by Arab slave traders when referring to their captives. Today, that word is regarded as an obscenity, and was always very offensive to the indigenous population.

The social, political and economic factors that affected Croatian immigrants to South Africa, must not be ignored. Many Croatians came during the boom years following the discovery of diamonds and gold. The Anglo- Boer Wars and their aftermath, were incredibly disruptive. Britain was able to impose far reaching changes within it's African colonies, in order to create a readily available labour force which was needed to serve the mining industry. This not only meant the disenfranchisement of the indigenous population, which gave rise to äpartheid policies in order to maintain the status quo, but other groups of the population were also impacted, these lead to the Labour Riots during the early part of the 20th century. Croatian settlers saw economic opportunities fade after the end of the Anglo Boer Wars, and many of them moved elsewhere or returned to their homeland. Mursalo only gives a few names for those who returned, but it must be pointed out, that the internment of Croatian settlers, who were viewed as Austrian (hence enemy) citizens by the British authorities during the First World War (1914-1918) brought additional suffering and hardship.

Further Reading

References

  1. N. Talan - "Croats and the Portuguese Indies"
  2. Ragusan colony of St Blaise, Goa
  3. see above "Are Croats (amongst) the first settlers in South Africa?" and "Croatians in South Africa and at Goa (India) in 1508"
  4. coming soon....
  5. Mursalo mentions Elria Wessel's book "They Fought on Foreign Soil", During the Second Anglo-Boer War, some 30 Croatians, already citizens of the Orange Free State or Transvaal, were active on the Boers’ side in the war (note that not all these were fighting, some served as doctors and medical orderlies), however the total number of Croats was very small considering the 2,500 odd foreign citizens who are recorded as having participated in the Anglo Boer Wars on the side of the Boers. This total figure includes a couple of hundred Scandinavians, with many Dutch, German, French and American volunteers. There was also a contingent of 225 Russians, who included individuals from the neighboring Baltic states. Additional info is in the book "The Russians and the Anglo-Boer War" by Davidson and Filatova
  6. coming soon ....

Related Geni Project Pages:

External Links of interest

Lexicon of Croatian emigrants and minorities | Leksikon hrvatskog iseljeništva i manjina , 2014.- 2015.