Willem, the Van Zyl ancestor from the Netherlands, worked as a fresh produce farmer for the Dutch East Indian Company in the Cape of Good Hope. He was fired in 1702 due to insubordination. He then bought a farm in Franschhoek where he farmed with fresh produce, wine and livestock. His descendants left the Cape during the 1830s and gradually moved north. Eventually they settled in the region east of Polokwane in 1880.