21 – Sir Alfred Milner becomes High Commissioner of South Africa and Governor of the Cape Colony.
5 – Port Elizabeth is flooded.
30 – The Colony of Natal annexes Zululand.
Bergville is established in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains in Natal.
"Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("God Bless Africa") is composed as a Xhosa hymn by South African teacher Enoch Sontonga.
3 July – Ludwig Wybren Hiemstra, Afrikaans linguist and editor of the Bilingual Dictionary, is born in Lydenburg.
26 October – James Leonard Brierley Smith, ichthyologist, is born in Graaff Reinet.
13 March – Cape Western – Mafeking to Ramatlabama at the Bechuanaland border, 16 miles (25.7 kilometres).
3 August – Transvaal – Frederikstad to Klerksdorp, 43 miles (69.2 kilometres).
1 October – Cape Midland – Rosmead Junction to Middelburg, 7 miles 3 chains (11.3 kilometres).
1 December – Natal – Isipingo to Park Rynie, 27 miles 48 chains (44.4 kilometres).
3 December – Natal – Verulam to Tongaat, 12 miles (19.3 kilometres).
15 December – Natal – Thornville Junction to Richmond, 17 miles 17 chains (27.7 kilometres).
1897 in South Africa Wikipedia
Two new Cape gauge locomotive types enter service on the Cape Government Railways (CGR):Six 4th Class 4-4-2 Atlantic type tender locomotives on the section from Kimberley southwards.
A third batch of fifty-five 6th Class 4-6-0 steam locomotives. In 1912 they would become Class 6B on the South African Railways.
The independent Pretoria-Pietersburg Railway in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal Republic) purchases a 4-6-0 35 Tonner tank locomotive named Portuguese from the Lourenco Marques, Delagoa Bay and East Africa Railway in Mozambique.
Arthur Koppel, acting as agent, imports a number of Dickson-built 0-4-2ST narrow gauge saddle tank steam locomotives to mines on the Witwatersrand.