Komatipoort (Northern Province)

 

Komatipoort is situated in Mpumalanga (formerly the Eastern Transvaal) on the Mozambican border, lying at the confluence of the Crocodile and Komati Rivers; it is also on the southern border of the Kruger National Park. The name “Komati” is Swazi for ‘river of cows’ (hippos). When the railway line from Lourenco Marques (Mozambique) reached the Transvaal border in 1891, the Dutch construction company made Komatipoort the main construction camp. The construction workers suffered badly from malaria, which hindered the completion of the line to Waterval-Boven. Today Komatipoort is primarily a railway and customs center; sub- tropical fruit is also grown in the district.

The Jewish population of the town and district has always been very small and no facilities were ever established. For the purposes of this research, the region includes Malelane, 48 km west of Komatipoort on the border of the Kruger National Park, and Hectorspruit, 26 km west of Komatipoort. Only a handful of Jews ever lived here, although no national census data is available for the sample of years used in this study; nor are any community records available.

In the 1980’s doctors doing their army service were posted to hospitals in the district, e.g. Dr. Matzkin worked at the Shongwe mission hospital at Hectorspruit. After 1981, the few Jews in this area participated in Family Days organized by the Lowveld Jewish Country Community, which was based in Nelspruit but served the entire Lowveld.