History tells us that tantalising myths are a bargain at 2 a penny

So how did the myth about the missing Kruger millions come about?

The dragon is a mythological creature that in some cultures was thought to guard hoards of treasure. 

We’re more exposed to myths, legends and folk tales than we realise. The hit series Game of Thrones contains elements of Old Norse myths – the ravens and dire wolves, the Long Winter and the wights, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (Torch) tell us.

First world countries, including the British Isles, have a long history stretching back well before written records began.

“Much of what we might think of as early history is really legend. Tales about the Druids …… and the exploits of King Arthur for example. Interwoven with our understanding of history are the threads of myth, legend and folklore; these shape and colour our understanding of both our past and our present,” writes a scholar at Torch.

Myths are stories about gods

“Myths are usually understood as stories about gods or divine figures. They answer big questions such as: how was the world created? Where do humans come from? How did we learn to make fire, or to smith metal? What is the origin of the gods? The term ‘myth’ may be used more loosely to cover whole cycles of tales.

“From the Star Wars films, which depend on classic models of the hero and the princess, good and evil, quests and family identity, to the powerful mythological elements that underlie the work of George R. R. Martin and Game of Thrones, the elements of traditional stories have crossed over into popular culture.

To read the full article, go to https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/article/where-do-myths-legends-and-folktales-come-from.

Let’s take another look at how the mystery of the missing Kruger millions has gravitated over the last century into a myth that is now embedded in South African folklore.

Myth of missing millions

In researched background for Looted Gold and specifically to develop a theory aimed at debunking the myth of the missing Kruger millions, Mike Dwight and I needed to gather as much information as possible from as many relevant sources as we could to provide a factual basis for the emergence of the myth.

Here are several well-documented facts that we believe led to widespread speculation that Paul Kruger, President of the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), was responsible for hiding underground millions of dollars worth of gold somewhere between Pretoria and the border of Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique).

Not myth but hard fact

Its common cause that gold was seized from a bank in Pretoria by men under the command of Jan Smuts (later Prime Minister of South Africa) on 3 June 1900 and loaded onto a train that followed the route taken by Kruger a few days earlier. That train headed out of the ZAR capital as the British forces bore down on the undefended city.

But that wasn’t the only gold that left Pretoria by train for the Eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga), according to some reports.

On 29 May, Kruger and his entourage had abandoned the city to avoid capture by the British. They headed by train line to the little town of Machadadorp from where they continued to govern the country.

Vincent Carruthers, in an article in the Heritage Portal newsletter published on October 6 last year under the headline The Fall of Pretoria, wrote that “Smuts seized between £400 000 and £500 000 of gold coin plus another £25 000 allocated to pay the salaries of government employees”.

The article stated that explanations about the seizure of the coins and money was “well explained at the time, and re-examined by countless historians since, but gullible folk, always preferring an improbable story to an obvious fact, continue to nurture the belief that Paul Kruger concealed millions of pounds sterling in a spot as yet undiscovered”.

Carruthers wrote that rather than being buried in some unknown spot, the gold was used to fund the Boer effort over the next two years.

See the full article:


Further speculation about missing gold arose a few months later after the ZAR executive had taken a decision that Kruger, then an ailing 74-year-old, should go into exile in Europe.

Kruger arrived in Lourenco Marques by train from Nelspruit in the third quarter of 1900 and was placed under a form of house arrest in the city as the British, Dutch and others debated what they should do about the aged president. His arrival presented a thorny political problem.

Bystanders at the train siding where Kruger disembarked reportedly saw heavy wooden crates being unloaded from the train. The obvious if wrong conclusion was that the crates contained gold.

A police officer who claimed to be present at the siding later wrote a report stating that the crates contained ammunition that was destined for the Boer commandos about to set out on a guerrilla campaign that drew out the debilitating war for another two years. During that time, hundreds of thousands of Empire troops chased fewer than 25 000 Boer commandos around the countryside.

Kruger sailed from Lourenco Marques for Europe aboard the Dutch warship The Gelderland in October 1900. He celebrated his birthday under house arrest.

Myth gains traction

By that stage the myth of the missing Kruger millions had already gained traction in the ZAR, later spreading across the world. Fortune hunters were attracted from all corners of the globe but to date, no one has found the missing Kruger millions.

A mythical creature in the Chinese garden in Hamilton has the body of a turtle and the head of a dragon. The creature holds no fear for Ella Scott.

There were numerous stories about Kruger’s wealth prior to the start of the Second Boer War in 1899. He owned scores of farms in the ZAR. Reserves of gold and coal were discovered on some of the farms

In Looted Gold, Mike Dwight and I include for the first time unpublished, eyewitness accounts of thousands of gold coins changing hands under mysterious circumstances on a Pretoria farm. We also include information about a search for buried gold on the same farm.

Years later, a treasure seeker was murdered on the farm while trying to find buried gold.

See my earlier articles on the missing Kruger millions here.

Read more of my articles here https://safreachronicle.co.za/?s=link+to+contact+blake+wilkins

For more interesting creative work by registered South African freelancers, go to:

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


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