The aftermath of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 left the remnants of the Zulu Kingdom in the hands of Uzibhebhu, Dinizulu’s uncle.  Dinizulu, the rightful heir, enlisted military support from the Boers in restoring him as king. After a successful campaign Dinuzulu was sworn in and in return the Boers were granted  a large tract of land.

On August 16 1884 this land was proclaimed as the Nieuwe Republiek with Vryheid as the capital and Lucas Meijer as the president. A raadsaal for the town fathers, a presidency for Lucas Meijer and a goal for miscreants were built. The fate of the tiny republic followed that of many others and by 1888 it had been absorbed by its neighbour, the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek. The moederkerk, which occupies pride of place in the centre of town, was completed in 1894.

At the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War on October 20 1899, the Vryheid Commando swung into action and, led by General Lucas Meijer, fought at the battle of Thalana. They went on to take part in the siege of Ladysmith and had the honour of capturing the British guns at Colenso.

Vryheid itself was left relatively unscathed by the big battles fought against the British forces to the west, but smaller skirmishes with the Imperial forces did occur at Scheepersnek, as well as a major Boer attack on the British garrison stationed on Lancaster Hill just north of Vryheid. During this battle Lt Col Gawne was mortally wounded and a cairn demarcating the place where he fell, as well as the British fortifications, can be viewed on the hill. General Louis Botha, one of five famous generals from Vryheid, tested the British lines the next year and led a successful invasion into Natal via Bloemfontein, drawing thousands of imperial troops from the Transvaal and the Free State in a desperate attempt to trap him.

The incursion finally ended at Italeni and Fort Prospect where the Boers were defeated, however General Botha managed to elude the pursuing British as he led his men back to the Transvaal.

At the culmination of the Anglo Boer war, chief uSkhobobo Sibiya, encouraged by the British civil authorities, attacked a Boer camp on the eastern slopes of Holkrans Mountain (KwaMthashana), killing 56 burgers of Commandant Jan ‘Mes’ Potgieter’s commando. After the Anglo Boer War the town was incorporated into the colony of Natal. The Carnegie library (presently the Information Bureau) was  built with funds from the Carnegie Foundation and houses started springing up along Bree, Kerk and Hoog streets, as well as above the railway line at the base of the hill. 1910 saw the Natal Colony join the Union of South Africa and in 1912 the town was granted municipal status. It gradually grew into an agricultural market-place for maize, sheep and cattle. The Empire Theatre in Hoog Street, the site of many musicals and revues, was completed in 1927.

Coal, which had been used by the early residents of the area east of Vryheid, became commercially viable from 1908 onwards, with the construction of a rail link to the coalfields. Two mines, Coronation and Hlobane, in time grew to provide thousands of jobs for the inhabitants of the area. With the increase in population so the need for water led to the construction of the Grootgewacht, Bloemveld and Klipfontein dams.

The present municipal building complex was completed in 1957 and the post office in 1980. After the national elections in 1994, political development of Vryheid followed a peaceful route with the creation of a Transitional Local Council and the birth of the AbaQulusi Municipality in 2001.