A hundred years ago it was even more remote, an area reached only by a long and tough wagon trail twisting through thick bush and oppressive heat.
Small wonder, then, that it was a No Man’s Land, a haven for skelms or – as the plaque marking the spot today puts it – ‘people who had no great wish to look into the eyes of the law’ and might at any moment need to escape across an international border. Think ivory poachers, gun runners and other outlaws who chose a free life where they made their own rules and thumbed their noses at the law.
The area’s most useful feature was a beacon marking the corner of the triangle where the three countries met – in those days, the Union of South Africa, Portuguese East Africa and Southern Rhodesia.
If the long arm of the law caught up with you, you could hop over to the other side of the beacon and no one would touch you for fear of breaching an international boundary. Even if lawmen of the three different countries arrived at the same time – unlikely as that would be – you could perch on top of the beacon and snigger at the lawmen as they fought over who should take you into custody.
Today, though, the only skelms we run into are the crocs basking on sand banks in the river, waiting for an unsuspecting antelope to present itself as a prize item on the dinner menu.
More about Kruger National Park
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