Selection Cartage was established in 1931 by John van Niekerk, a diamond miner from Kimberley. There was a decline in diamond mining in early 1930 and many of the miners left Kimberley and headed to the gold mines of the reef. The van Niekerk family arrived in Springs in 1930 where John van Niekerk joined Daggafontein Gold Mining Company as a winding engine driver. As he only worked night shifts, he made good use of his days, sleeping only for a short time and carrying out transportation jobs, such as carting bricks for a local brick company.
The first vehicle he bought was an old sleeve valve Willy’s Knight, which had been converted from a car belonging to Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. The conversion of this vehicle into a platform lorry was carried out by John himself.
This proved to be a great success, and within a few months he was able to purchase a Dodge 3 tonner.
John then conceived the idea of having portable covers for his platform lorries and became the first contractor on the east rand who could offer the service of furniture removals with covered vans.
A union wide certificate was applied for and once granted, this enabled Selection Cartage to not only undertake furniture removals, but heavy haulage as well, from Beit Bridge on the Rhodesian border to Cape Town.
At the end of 1947, Stephen van Niekerk, the only son of John and Mattie van Niekerk, joined his father in the business and brought his knowledge of the transport industry he acquired overseas to Springs. Father and son ran a very successful operation.
All the pan Technicon bodies used for the various vehicles were all built to the company’s own design.
In the case of the long distance vehicles, they were fitted with special sleeping bunks for the drivers, who were often away for more than 3 weeks at a time.
A fully equipped workshop was established at the depot and a well-equipped repair van was always available to travel to any breakdown and repair on site. The one driver one vehicle policy was initiated where each driver took full responsibility for his vehicle. When that driver went on leave, his vehicle went into the workshop where it underwent a complete overhaul, even repainting the body if necessary. This policy helped keep repairs due to negligent driving down to a minimum.
As an added on service to the removals industry, Stephen saw a need for long term storage. Initially the company had a series of garages around the corner from the original offices and in 1960, a state of the art warehouse for storage was built. This over 2000 m2 brick building allowed for the storage of furniture and commercial goods in individual storage cages. What was not used for household goods, was let out to Ideal Cycle and Toys for their overflow of toys and bicycles.