Moorddrift

This simple but important little monument stands under two large camel thorn trees beside the national road 16km south of Mokopane (Potgietersrus), just where the road used to cross the Nyl River by a drift. It commemorates a murder perpetrated on the Boers.

In September 1854, 28 men, woman and children on their way south from Schoemansdal in the Soutpansberg, out spanned and rested under the camel thorn trees at the fording place of the Nyl river. Suddenly they were set upon by a group of Tlou warriors of Chief Makapan (Mak6pane, Makhapane) and Mapela. One can only guess at the reasons for these tragic events, but it seems that a smoldering feud existed between Makapan’s people and Hermanus Potgieter (brother of A.H. Potgieter, Voortrekker leader). Some historians have suggested that the Tlou tribes took offense at some unwitting breach of local custom by the Voortrekkers led by Hermanus Potgieter. The massacre was especially gruesome. Tradition has it that the children were smashed against the trunks of the 2 camel thorn trees, which have been enclosed with the monument. Potgieter is believed to have been flayed alive and his skin used to make a drum skin. A government force under Piet Potgieter, son of Andries Potgieter, marched against Makapan who, with his entire tribe of 2 000 followers, took refuge in the caves. The incident led to the Tlou being besieged at Makapansgat by a force of Voortrekkers seeking revenge.

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