Parked In An Odd Spot

Things happened very fast once gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand.  Virtually everything was in short supply in the fledgling mining camp that was to become Johannesburg.  Realising this, a Mr Van Rensburg from Colesberg set up a transport business, bringing much needed produce to the miners.

On one trip he was stunned at the prices oxen were fetching in Johannesburg, so he sold his whole team. He left his wagon behind Auctioneer Morkel’s office for safe keeping and hurried back to his Karoo farm to fetch another team of oxen.

“Morkel was not in his office when Van Rensburg parked his wagon there, and the clerk with whom he left instructions forgot about it” writes Robert Crisp in The Outlanders. “Six weeks later, when Van Rensburg returned, he found that the open space behind the auctioneer’s office had been completely built over to make an auction room.”

Oddly enough his wagon had not been moved.  He had to dismantle his wagon on the spot and carry it out piece by piece through the front door of Morkel’s office. Van Rensburg then had to reassemble the wagon in the street, while the restless team of oxen milled about, and Johannesburgers with nothing better to do, looked on in great amusement.

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