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The town was established in 1903, when the first plots of land were sold to farmers by the government. The name "Benoni" is derived from a biblical place mentioned in Genesis 35:4, which states that Jacob buried his son Joseph there. It has been suggested that this may have influenced the choice of name for one of South Africa's most important industrial townships and its largest black township (the other being Soweto). In 1904 Benoni became part of Transvaal Colony and it was declared a municipality on 9 April 1908. In 1910 it had an estimated population between 4 000 and 5 000 people living in about 800 houses with electricity supply provided by two private companies - Benoni Electric Light Company Ltd., founded on 20 July 1905; and Davenport & Co., founded on 15 October 1906 - as well as municipal street lighting since 1907/1908 at least.