Back in South Africa

We drive from Gaborone through the platinum-mining belt around Rustenburg to Pretoria.

We would’ve thought that Pretoria, as the capital of South Africa, would be more orderly than it is. Like most large South African cities (Cape Town being a glaring exception), the middle of town has been left to degenerate into a slummy, unsafe no-man’s land.

Church Square is about the only picturesque place in town.

Church Square

Our accommodation is in the slightly more upscale neighbourhood of Hatfield, where most of the embassies are. We still hear gunfire at night, though.

Dutch bank building in Church Square

The Pretoria Art Museum is our first stop. On its grounds is a memorial to our old friend Bartholemeu Dias.

With a quote from Camões

From the Pretoria Art Museum, we walk several kilometres through the town centre to Kruger House, the last home of potato-nosed president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger.

Kruger House in Pretoria

We are told by a security guard there that we are taking a serious risk walking around central Pretoria, that at any moment we could be robbed of everything, including ‘the shoes on your feet’. We heed his advice and take an Uber home.

One day, we take the fast, safe Gautrain into Johannesburg to do some business and shopping. (The Gautrain uses Bombardier cars, I believe.)

The Drakensberg Mountains are a day’s drive away. We’re happy to say that the major highways are still in top shape. Being toll roads probably helps.

The N3 between Johannesburg and Durban

The scenery is beautiful as well.

Adrift on the veldt

The Dragon Peaks Resort is where stay for the next few nights.

Must be braai o’clock

Camping, of course. We splurge on a site with a private kitchen and bathroom.

The eponymous Dragon Peaks

Next day, we visit the Boer War battle site of Spion Kop.

View from atop Spion Kop
Boer memorial
British memorial
Another British memorial

The most recent addition (2015) to the memorials is one erected to the Indian Volunteer Ambulance Corps, whose presence gets little mention in the history books. One of the names may be familiar – M.K. Ghandi.

Mahatma was here

We think this is the Monk’s Cowl. A lot of these formations have been given names that are, um, a bit overimaginative.

Winston Churchill was here as a war correspondent during the Boer War. He was captured when the troop train he was on was derailed. We finally track down – no pun intended – the small memorial commemorating this event.

Off the rails right here

We drive to visit the formation known as the Giant’s Castle. The only towns we see are Zulu settlements.

Informal settlement

After a 60 kilometre drive through scenic countryside, we arrive.

‘Doesn’t look like a castle to me’. says Maria

When we were visiting Spion Kop, we came across a South African couple who asked if we were going to Durban. We said yes. They said ”Ach, Durban’s a dump now. You should go to Ballito.”

So we do.

Sight or Insight of the Day

Apparently, a few weeks ago South Africa officially charged Israel with genocide at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. (We don’t pay much attention to news when we travel.) That’s pretty rich. Can this be the same South Africa that failed to arrest a crazed, blood-soaked Sudanese warlord, Omar Al-Bashir, in 2015?

Zuma yuks it up with Al-Bashir

Besides its unabashed life-long love affair with Moscow, the South African ANC government is well known for embracing genuine, bona-fide gĂ©nocidaires. Just this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed another crazed, blood-soaked Sudanese warlord: Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, leader of the Sudanese rebel group, the Rapid Support Forces. The RSF’s tally of victims climbs higher every day.

Ramaphosa grasps the blood-soaked mitts of Hemedti

The hypocrisy is staggering. Can people really be fooled by the performative song-and-dance of the South African ANC government, surely one of the most rapacious and incompetent governments on the planet? Any shred of virtue the ANC ever held died with Nelson Mandela. I shake my head in despair.