to attend lessons for more than three weeks.
The time had arrived, in 1905, when the requirements of law enforcement demanded the erection of a prestige courthouse and a jail. Leslie contracted to construct both buildings, and he built the courthouse of sandstone, hewn at his quarry on the banks of the Klip River. The building was sited on the west side of Joubert Street between Beaconsfield and Market Avenues, next to the old corrugated iron house which accommodated in one room the local post and telegraph office. The post and telegraph office had occupied the site since it was first established on January 1, 1894. Vereeniging's present courthouse was built almost on the same site. The sandstone jail, with its entrance on the north side of Kruger Avenue, now occupies the block
bounded by Hofmeyer Avenue and Botha and Edward Streets - the building is the present South African Police headquarters in Vereeniging.
In the mid-1900s, about half the village inhabitants worked on the mine or at the adjoining brickfields; and it was in the year 1905, that Vereeniging residents were shaken by a major colliery disaster at the Central Mine. The coal seam at the Jubilee Shaft on the west side of the property had petered out and the underground workings there were abandoned.
In time the roof collapsed and the section was completely forgotten, that is until May 13, 1905. On that day, the old workings burst into flames in spontaneous combustion and the fumes spread to the rest of the Central Mine. When several whites and Bantu miners were overcome, the mine ceased operations for the day and on the following morning the mine manager and five senior officials went underground to investigate. In the light of their safety lamps, they walked through the gloom with handkerchiefs held to their noses. A sudden up-draft of gasfilled air rushed past the men and one after another they collapsed and died. Dense smoke rose from the shaft as volunteers descended in a desperate bid to save the men, but the heroic deeds of that day only resulted in further loss of life. When all the bodies had been brought to the surface, the fire had accounted for the loss of ten white and seven Bantu lives.
Later, when the Vaal rose in flood in 1917, the river poured into the abandoned Central Mine and into the old workings of the Jubilee section which for more than a decade had continued to burn. The build-up of steam underground exploded like a volcano and almost the whole mine collapsed, shooting steam to the surface and into the air.