In my personal life I have a fascination with the Anglo Boer War.
There is a lot of well maintained battle sights and museums available to visit as well as a number of excellent books on the subject.
There is nothing quite as awesome as standing at the Maggersfontein Battle Field near Kimberley and imagining the incredible drama that played out over plains of the semi-desert landscape.
Riding on the back of this incredible human tragedy were a number of colourful personalities.
The one that fascinated me the most was President Paul Kruger, the leader of the Boer Republic of the Transvaal.
Born in the early 1800’s, PK participated in the Great Trek at the tender age of ten. His courage and determination took him quickly through the ranks. He developed into a cunning negotiator and, together with his military prowess, was selected to take leadership of the Transvaal a short while before the War.
There is no doubt that Queen Victoria, Lord Milner and Cecil John Rhodes had all met their match in old PK. The overwhelming arrogance of the man took them all by surprise. Finally they declared war on the Transvaal to teach him a lesson. This was a decision that was to severely embarrass the British Empire and possibly led to its final demise.
This where the story gets interesting.
When the British entered Pretoria they found, to their astonishment, that the Boer Republic’s Treasury was empty – PK and his entourage had escaped by train into the Eastern Transvaal with all the gold.
Just to give some perspective of the quantum of this wealth, the Transvaal was at that time the biggest producer of gold in the world. The British were expecting to find the largest haul of treasure imaginable.
And this is where things become a little vague.
By all accounts the gold crossed into Lorenzo Marques (Mozambique) and was officially banked into an appropriate institution. It was all accounted for by Jan Smuts, one of PK’s trusted generals, later to become the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
So where and what is the The Kruger Millions?
Some say that it was the raw gold bars that were taken from the mines and loaded onto the escaping train. These were not as yet officially recorded in the Treasury’s ledgers and did not form part of Jannie’s accounting.
What I find difficult to grasp is, if such treasure did exist, more than a few people must have known about it and would have come for it eventually.
The buried treasure was PK’s personal fortune that he had accumulated during his time in office. He was supposedly known as a receiver of bribes.
I would not be surprised to find that he buried this gold is close to where he lived in Pretoria. Hence only he knew where it was.
Was PK the kind of man that could have buried treasure?
He was a shrewd eccentric character with a huge ego.
So if you have a metal detecting device and feel like an entertaining weekend, you might want to start at PK’s house in Church Street, Pretoria and then move across the road to the Doppler Church that was his personal place of worship.