02-Jul-2004 -- The far Northern Cape area is commonly known in South Africa as the Kalahari, which is derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi. It is the largest geopolitical area (province) in South Africa. It is a semi-desert region, which is sparsely populated with the main economic activities being farming and mining. Mining activities are mainly iron ore and manganese, with some of the biggest deposits in the world being found there. Any koppie/kopje (hillock or small hill) is almost guaranteed to be a deposit of the aforementioned minerals.
The main languages spoken by the population is Tswana, an indigenous African language and Afrikaans, a language developed from the Dutch, who were the early settlers in South Africa, arriving in the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town) in 1652. Farming activities are mainly centred around cattle ranching and sheep or goat farming, with only the hardier types of animal capable of surviving the extreme heat, cold, sparse vegetation and dry conditions of this arid area.
The people from the area are renowned for their friendliness, hospitality and willingness to help. I can vouch for this, from my personal experience from visiting 28S 23E, which is on the farm "Gappepin" belonging to Gerrit Maritz, when I visited the area on 2 July 2004.
The company that I work for provide medical insurance for employees at Assmang Mine, who mine iron ore at Beeshoek (literally Cattle Corner), a mining township, close to Postmasburg. The Confluence lies about 5 kilometres off the main road from Postmasburg to Kuruman near a place known as Lohatla. Lohatla is generally known as the 2nd largest military battle training ground in the world and is strategically situated in the "middle" of South Africa. It is about 1000 km in any direction to the furthest point in South Africa, hence its strategic position.
Whilst scouting the roads in the area, on 30 June I stopped a farmer, Johann De Ath, who farms with Arabian Horses in the area. Johan directed me to a site where a contractor was erecting the beginnings of a mining operation for an Israeli company. On 1 July I visited the site of a proposed manganese mine where I met Dick Jansen, who informed me that, according to the distance and direction I had indicated, the confluence point was on the farm of a Mrs. Nooi De Bruin. Nooi de Bruin runs the Boston Funeral Parlour, in Postmasburg. Not being a person who frequents funeral parlours too often, I visited Nooi and told her of the project. Since her farm was run by a foreman, she kindly gave me keys to her gate and allowed me access to her farm and also stood in for her neighbour Quentin Stanton, who also accesses his farm via the same gate. She stated the she was sure that Quentin, who was very well known to her, would not mind if I went onto his farm. I should just report to the foreman on arrival.
On the morning of 2 July, I was at the farm gate where I met the foreman Kerneels. Kerneels pointed me along the way to the Stanton farm, which is also run by a foreman. Having stated my business to the foreman, he kindly allowed his son Thambai to go with me to direct me along the small farm roads, in the general direction of the confluence point. Regrettably, I hit the boundary fence with about 900 meters to go. The farm confluence point was on someone else's property. What to do? It was a matter of so near yet so far. In for a penny and in for a pound, I threw caution to the wind and jumped the fence. I had no time to seek permission and considered it easier to beg for forgiveness later.
After a 900 meter trek through the veld, I got to the confluence point. The area around 28º 00' 00.00" S 23º 00' 00.00" E is typical sandy Kalahari Sand-Veld (dry savannah). The word veld is an Afrikaans word which has become a commonly used English word in South Africa to describe a field or the bush and would be synonymous with such words as paddock or prairie.
Having completed the exercise, I returned to Nooi in Postmasburg to return her gate key. I informed her that the confluence point was not on her farm or on the Stanton farm. After looking at title deeds and farm boundaries, she promptly set about phoning and after about 6 phone calls we eventually tracked down Gerrit Maritz as the owner of the property. I explained the project to him and asked for his forgiveness. He was glad that I had phoned and let me off the hook, thanking me for contacting him. I told him that I would post him the details of the project and my report, for which he was grateful, stating that if I ever revisited the area, he would be glad to meet me. Gerrit was also grateful for the information, as he was unaware of the Confluence on his property.
Should anyone want further contact details, they can contact me via the email address at my member page.
My sincere thanks to Nooi De Bruin and young Thambai for their assistance in this project.