Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa

The Natal Battlefields

The Voortrekkers - the Zoutpansberg

The first Voortrekkers reach the Soutpansberg but fall out with van Rensburg striking to Delagoa Bay (Maputo) to replenish stores. He is however killed on the way.

The Voorste Mense reach the Zoutpansberg

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The journey proved to be surprisingly without event. The small group was lucky to pass between the armies of Dingane and Mzilikazi which had just fought a major battle. However, in April 1836 before reaching the Zoutpansberg a quarrel arose between Tregardt and van Rensburg.

The latter had been using a lot of gunpowder and wished to replenish his stock quickly in Delagoa Bay, therefore within seventy miles of their destination, van Rensburg took off eastwards, camped for a few weeks and then in June set off again eastwards. He was however to find that the lowland diseases were to decimate his stock.

Tregardt camped for a few weeks and set off north to complete the trek, camping under the Zoutpansberg. Like van Rensburg, he also found that the scourge of the tsetse fly was cutting a swathe through his stock.

Worse, if he was to find a way to Inhambane, he was to traverse fly country for three-quarters of the way. If, however he struck out for Delagoa Bay, he would encounter the fly for only a third of the distance - provided he could find a way over the Drakensberg.

Potgieter Arrives

At this point, Potgieter with eleven companions rode in. He had started his trek with two hundred people who he left camped at the Sand River near Winburg. Potgieter and Tregardt were becoming worried as to fate of the van Rensburg party and Potgieter set off north to see whether he would cross his path. He did not and determined the dreaded fly would preclude all traffic through this area (Southern Zimbabwe).

van Rensburg Perishes

By this time, rumours were being received that the van Rensburg party had been massacred so Tregardt set off and found that the whole party of 49 had perished. Apparently having crossed what is now the Kruger National Park and the Lubombo mountains his party camped on the Limpopo River and was set upon by a local chief called Sakana. The attack lasted all night but by morning all ammunition was spent and the warriors ended the fight by driving a herd of cattle through the laager.

Tregardt did not find the massacre site but found Sakana. Not trusting Sakana and believing him to be implicated in the disaster Tregardt cannily told him that he couldn't stay but would return with all his wagons which he would leave in his care while he continued the search.

Tregardt returned to Potgieter at the Zoutpansberg and informed him of his suspicions. Potgieter then rode South to bring up the main body of the trekkers. Tregardt was to wait for more than a year. Thousands of animals were scattered over the veld and would be taken by the Matabele regardless of whether they would prevail or die.

Tregardt sets out for Delagoa Bay (Maputo) on an epic trek

Next: Van Rensburg Perishes

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