Thursday, 28 May 2015

Waratah - land search.

Chronicle (Adelaide) Saturday 6 November, 1909
Field cornets have examined the whole coast from Cape Town to Port Natal for wreckage. 

Before 1 July 1902 the Transkeian Territories were divided into the Chief Magistracies of Transkei, Tembuland, Pondoland and Griqualand East. However in terms of Proclamation No 112 of 1902 they were amalgamated and placed under one Executive Head, the Chief Magistrate of the Transkeian Territories, resident at Umtata.
Two years later the Better Administration of Justice Act (No 35 of 1904) abolished the judicial functions previously exercised by the Chief Magistrate, and on 1 July 1904 Proclamation No 180 of 1904 brought the administration of the Transkei directly under the control of the Secretary to the Department of Native Affairs. However the Chief Magistrate for the Transkeian Territories remained at Umtata, while an additional Assistant Chief Magistrate, for the Territories of Griqualand East and Eastern Pondoland, was stationed at Kokstad. In 1906 the jurisdiction of the Courts of Chief Magistrate and Assistant Chief Magistrate was restored in cases of divorce and separation.
In July 1907 the Colonial Government rationalized many of its administrative functions, and on 1 July 1908 the Department's Accounting Branch was transferred to the Treasury. The office of Assistant Chief Magistrate for the Territories of Griqualand East and Eastern Pondoland was also discontinued from the same date. 

Field cornets were deployed to search for wreckage along the Wild Coast. It is important to note that the Transkei (Wild Coast) was a territory in transition during 1909. The magisterial centres were Umtata (100km / 62 miles from Port St Johns) and Kokstad (281 km / 175 miles from Port St Johns). To further complicate matters the coastline around Port St Johns is rugged and difficult to access / comb. Under the existing system of local government it must have been very challenging deploying field cornets to make a thorough search of the coast line surrounding Port St Johns. To make matters even worse, there was a general belief that the Waratah must have foundered at a position further south, either off East London or to the southwest, suggesting that there was less emphasis on the search further northeast. I don't believe the coastal search of the Transkei was comprehensive and certainly not by present day standards.

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