Hotazel, Northern Cape

hotazel

A ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ on the road to Hotazel.

It’s not really hot as hell in Hotazel. Granted, this being the Deep Kalahari, it warms up to nearly 40 degrees C in the summer months, but that, to quote Tom Jones, is ‘not unusual’

The legend of the name of Hotazel goes back to a time, shortly after World War I, when a bunch of land surveyors had a drinking session out in the red sands and, while discussing the place over a glass of Cape Smoke brandy, called it ‘hot as hell’.

The name stuck. A farm was marked out, set up and when the ubiquitous ‘man with the cleft stick’ pitched up to determine where the underground water lay, he found manganese deposits instead. So the miners moved in.

Sometime in the 1950s Hotazel was registered as a town and the manganese mining continues.

The area around Hotazel is pure Kalahari bush. This is where the famous Camel Patrols, the old-time version of the police Flying Squad, used to traverse as they chased the bad guys and tried their best to register wandering San Bushman clans, which was a bit like catching mercury drops.

One of those said ‘bad guys’ was a desperado called Scotty Smith, who was the legend-equivalent of Australia’s Ned Kelly – or America’s Machine Gun Kelly, for that matter.

Scotty Smith’s specialty was fine horses. He could not resist the dubious lures of Kalahari horse rustling, but he was a cheeky one. He would even join in on search parties that were looking for him.

Hotazel is not without its historical charms…

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