by John H Marsh

Drilling platform

Unexpectedly we come upon this extraordinary sight "a hundred kilometers from anywhere" but marked on the map as Toscanini. It is a fully-operative drilling station complete with rig, radio masts, water tower, water or fuel storage tank and shelters, and it is said to have cost about R2 million. Yet there is no sign of life around. Nor has there been for years. For this was one of the diamond prospecting enterprises of former millionaire Mr Ben du Preez whose empire collapsed in sudden bankruptcy in 1976 and left a shortfall of more than R30 million. With one strike of a pen the huge investment of money and effort was written off as worthless.

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