Take a mohair factory tour in Uitenhage

  • 23 January 2015 | By Lynnette Johns

When visiting Nelson Mandela Bay be sure to take a tour at the Hinterveld factory in Uitenhage, a processing plant that is the epicentre of the world's mohair production.

You will be able to watch mohair being processed from its raw state into beautifully woven products, some of which are on sale in the Hinterveld factory shop. 

Hintervelt weaves mohair into beautiful blankets. Photo courtesy of Hinterveld

Three of Hinterveld's mills – Gubb & Inggs (the processing and combing mill), Mohair Spinners South Africa and the Hinterveld Weaving Mill – form part of the tour. The dyeing plant is not open to the public. The silky mohair takes well to dyeing, and is often brightly coloured or dyed in myriad shades. 

The yarn can be woven into many products, from gloves and jerseys to cushion covers, but Hinterveld specialises in blankets and scarves. 

Watch Hintervelds's video on its mohair production processes

The history of mohair in South Africa is fascinating. 

Angora goats were introduced to South Africa in 1838, when the Sultan of Turkey sent 12 rams and one ewe to Port Elizabeth. The goats were meant for breeding, but the wily sultan had had the rams neutered. Unbeknown to him, however, the ewe was pregnant and gave birth to a kid ram soon after her arrival in South Africa. 

Today South Africa produces some of the best mohair in the world. Jackie Gant of Hinterveld says Lesotho is the second-largest producer of mohair after South Africa, and mohair is also imported from Australia and the United Kingdom. 

Most, if not all, of the world's mohair is processed at Hinterveld, which employs 400 people who do the washing, sorting, spinning, weaving and dyeing. Gant says 80% of the mohair is exported for further processing. 

Many of the staff have worked at the plant for decades and are experts in their fields, Gant says. 

The tours are popular and costs R60 per person and R30 for scholars, students and pensioners. The entrance fee is discounted against Hinterveld Mill products from the factory shop if the item is equal, or more, to the entrance fee. 

For more information and to book a tour, contact Jackie Gant on +27 (0)41 992 4880.

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