1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Komati

KOMATI, a river of south-eastern Africa. It rises at an elevation of about 5000 ft. in the Ermelo district of the Transvaal, 11 m. W. of the source of the Vaal, and flowing in a general N. and E. direction reaches the Indian Ocean at Delagoa Bay, after a course of some 500 miles. In its upper valley near Steynsdorp are gold-fields, but the reefs are almost entirely of low grade ore. The river descends the Drakensberg by a pass 30 m. S. of Barberton, and at the eastern border of Swaziland is deflected northward, keeping a course parallel to the Lebombo mountains. Just W. of 32° E. and in 25° 25′ S. it is joined by one of the many rivers of South Africa named Crocodile. This tributary rises, as the Elands river, in the Bergendal (6437 ft.) near the upper waters of the Komati, and flows E. across the high veld, being turned northward as it reaches the Drakensberg escarpment. The fall to the low veld is over 2000 ft. in 30 m., and across the country between the Drakensberg and the Lebombo (100 m.) there is a further fall of 3000 ft. A mile below the junction of the Crocodile and Komati, the united stream, which from this point is also known as the Manhissa, passes to the coast plain through a cleft 626 ft. high in the Lebombo known as Komati Poort, where are some picturesque falls. At Komati Poort, which marks the frontier between British and Portuguese territory, the river is less than 60 m. from its mouth in a direct line, but in crossing the plain it makes a wide sweep of 200 m., first N. and then S., forming lagoon-like expanses and backwaters and receiving from the north several tributaries. In flood time there is a connexion northward through the swamps with the basin of the Limpopo. The Komati enters the sea 15 m. N. of Lourenço Marques. It is navigable from its mouth, where the water is from 12 to 18 ft. deep, to the foot of the Lebombo.

The railway from Lourenço Marques to Pretoria traverses the plain in a direct line, and at mile 45 reaches the Komati. It follows the south bank of the river and enters the high country at Komati Poort. At a small town with the same name, 2 m. W. of the Poort, on the 23rd of September 1900, during the war with England, 3000 Boers crossed the frontier and surrendered to the Portuguese authorities. From the Poort westward the railway skirts the south bank of the Crocodile river throughout its length.