Forestry operations and a famous prison.

History of Tokai

Province; Western Cape
Coordinates: 34°3′45″S 18°26′30″E
Municipality: City of Cape Town
Area: 1.05 km2

Where the name Tokai came from

Tokai is named after a hilly area in Hungary which is famous for a sweet aromatic wine which was popular in the 1800s. It lies at the foot of the Constantiaberg in the Table mountain range. Tokai originally was the site of various wine estates. The wine farms have mostly disappeared but some of the old homesteads remain. The suburb was established in the 1940s for servicemen returning from WW II.
The area was first privately owned in 1792 by Johan Andreas Rauch, retired VOC (Dutch East India Company) official and the land was transferred to Georg Hendrik Teubes after just 3 months. He built a stately house on the ridge complete with wine cellars, slave quarters and stables. 70 000 vines were planted. In 1799 the land was transferred to Jan Frederick Herwig and was called Tokay for the first time.

Forestry in Tokai

The Porter reformatory was moved to Tokai from the Valkenberg estate in 1889 where the boys (inmates) were involved in crafts and farming. In 1890 a new building in the style of British military establishments was commissioned but the buildings have a complicated history and are no longer used as a reformatory.
In 1898 the area was reconfigured after being surveyed. The Porter school got 136 morgens and 303 morgens were demarcated for the forest. Forestry operations continued and a school of forestry was established there in 1906, however, the school moved to George in the 1920s,but some forestry continued in the area. Tokai manor house is a national monument.

Cape Flats sand and Fynbos

Tokai has rich and varied environmental qualities and opportunities, from the low flatlands through an old historical settlement and the huge variety of trees, forests, plantations and arboretum experiences.
There are still some old brick-paved roads in the area, streams flow through the pine plantations where many species of fauna and flora make their homes. Some remnants of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos survive in the area, however, a lot has been covered by the pine trees. Fortunately, the endangered biosphere survives and work is being done to protect it. The area provides great opportunities for hiking, cycling, horse riding and bird watching.

The postcodes for Tokai are 7945 (streets) and 7966 (boxes)


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Things to see and do in Tokai:

  • Pollsmoor prison where Nelson Mandela spent a few years on his incarceration
  • Pollsmoor mess restaurant where inmates and prison cooks cater to the public. Waiters are in prison uniform. Inmates are trained in the service industry for life on the outside. Steenberg road Tokai 021 700 1270
  • -Tokai forest trails.- You will need a permit from the Tokai tourist office
  • Earth fair – (held every Saturday, South Palms,, main road Tokai
  • Tokai forest market – Organic food market. Orpen Road Sundays 9.00- 14.00



Useful Numbers

  • Police: Kirstenhof police station; 021 701 2426
  • Traffic department: Ottery 0860 103 089
  • Fire: Constantia fire department: 021 400 5514
  • Water: 0860 103 089
  • Electricity: City power 086 056 2874 Eskom 021 915 9111
  • Ambulance: 10177
  • Post office; 021 712 2314
  • Closest hospital; Melomed Private Hospital.021 764 7500
  • Pharmacy; Synergy pharmacy 021 715 8745
  • SPCA: 021 700 4140
  • Library; 021 710 1480                                                                                                             

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