The Mystery Trunk of Botha’s Hill

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The Mystery Trunk of Botha’s Hill

Botha’s hill  was a railway station on the line from Durban to Pinetown. During the Anglo Boer War it was one of the responsibilities of the  Indian railway workers to check the line for damage or sabotage by the Boer forces.

One night near Drummond, a party of British soldiers guarding the line, opened fire on them. They believed them to be saboteurs. Fortunately there were no casualties, although one man, Mr Jaggernath, removed a bullet from his turban.

It was probably about this time, but nobody knows for certain, that a tin trunk was left on the station platform. For years the strong, military-looking trunk stood on the station next to the weighing machine. It was stepped over, dusted off, sat upon, but never really noticed. Occasionally it was dragged and used to keep a door ajar. It had simply become part of the furniture.

View of the 1000 Hills

One day in the late 1940’s, a new stationmaster demanded to know whose trunk it was and why it had been left on the station platform. No-one knew. After forty years the answer to the trunk was about to be answered. He forced the lock with a crowbar and opened the trunk. Imagine his surprise to find it filled with documents and bags of silver and gold coins destined for the payment of British troops in Ladysmith during the Anglo Boer War.

Apparently the money had been recorded as “having gone astray”. 

And once the contents of the trunk were known – well it disappeared from the station platform and this time went “astray”. No-one knows what happened to it.

Lori Voss

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