Botswana–South Africa border

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Botswana (green) and South Africa (orange)

The border between Botswana and South Africa is 1,969 kilometres (1,223 mi) long.[1] More than 90% of the border follows rivers, including the Nossob, Molopo, Marico and Limpopo.[2]


Border fence in the dry Nossob riverbed

The western terminus of the border is at the tripoint with Namibia, located where the Nossob River crosses the 20th meridian east. From this terminus the border runs south-east along the Nossob River to its confluence with the Molopo River; in this area the border passes through the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. From the confluence the border runs generally eastwards along the Molopo River as far as the Ramatlabama Spruit, and then up the Spruit as far as the pool at Ramatlabama.[2][3]

From Ramatlabama the border turns northwards, and is made up of a series of straight lines through beacons at Matlhase, Sebataole, Schaapkuil and Pytlanganyane to Sengoma on the Ngotwane River. It then follows the Ngotwane past Ramotswa to its confluence with the Metsemaswaane Stream. The border turns eastwards along a series of straight lines joining beacons on the Moshweu Hills, Wildebeeskop and the Sikwane Hills to Derdepoort on the Marico River. It then follows the Marico River to its confluence with the Crocodile River. The Marico and the Crocodile join to form the Limpopo River, and the border runs along the Limpopo to its confluence with the Shashe River, which is the tripoint with Zimbabwe.[2][3]


The western portion of the border from the Namibian tripoint to Ramatlabama was the border between British Bechuanaland to the south and the Bechuanaland Protectorate to the north. British Bechuanaland was constituted as a Crown Colony by proclamation in 1885, and incorporated the lands of the Tswana people situated to the south of the Molopo River, west of the South African Republic (the Transvaal) and not already part of the Cape Colony. The Tswana lands north of the Molopo were at the same time brought under British protection as the Bechuanaland Protectorate.[3] British Bechuanaland was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1895.[3] The Order in Council authorising the annexation also extended the border northwards to include the land between the Molopo and the Nossob River,[2] which is now the Mier area and the South African section of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The Order in Council of 3 October 1895 defined the northern border of British Bechuanaland as

...on the north, by that [Nossob] river to its junction with the Molopo River, thence by that river to its junction with the Ramathalbana Spruit, and thence by that river to its junction with the [South African] Republic.[2]

The eastern portion of the border from Ramatlabama to the Zimbabwean tripoint was the border between the South African Republic (ZAR) and the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and was defined by the Pretoria Convention of 1881 and the London Convention of 1884 which superseded it.[2] These conventions settled the bounds of the ZAR, which subsisted until it was annexed to the British Empire during the Second Anglo-Boer War, becoming the Transvaal Colony. The London Convention defined the western border of the ZAR as

thence up the course of the Limpopo River to the point where the Marique [Marico] River falls into it. Thence up the course of the Marique River to "Derde Poort," where it passes through a low range of hills, called Sikwane, a beacon (No. 10) being erected on the spur of said range near to, and westward of, the banks of the river; thence, in a straight line, through this beacon to a beacon (No. 9), erected on the top of the same range, about 1,700 yards [1,600 m] distant from beacon No. 10; thence in a straight line to a beacon (No. 8) erected on the highest point of an isolated hill called Dikgagong [Dikgogone], or "Wildebeest Kop," situated south-eastward of and about 3 13 miles [5.4 km] distant from a high hill, called Moripe [Modipe]; thence in a straight line to a beacon (No. 7) erected on the summit of an isolated hill or "koppie" forming the eastern extremity of the range of hills called Moshweu, situated to the northward of and about two miles [3 km] distant from a large isolated hill called Chukudu-Chochwa [Tshukudutshojwe]; thence, in a straight line, to a beacon (No. 6) erected on the summit of a hill forming part of the same range, Moshweu; thence, in a straight line, to a beacon (No. 5) erected on the summit of a pointed hill in the same range; thence, in a straight line, to a beacon (No. 4) erected on the summit of the western extremity of the same range; thence, in a straight line, to a beacon (No. 3) erected on the summit of the northern extremity of a low, bushy hill, or "koppie," near to and eastward of the Notwane River; thence, in a straight line, to the junction of the stream called Metsi-Mashwane [Metsemaswaane] with the Notwane River (No. 2); thence up the course of the Notwane River to Sengoma, being the Poort where the river passes through the Dwarsberg Range ; thence, as described in the Award given by Lieutenant-Governor Keate, dated 17 October 1871, by Pitlanganyane [Pytlaganyane] (narrow place), Deboaganka or Schaapkuil, Sibatoul [Sebataole] (bare place), and Maclase [Matlhase] to Ramatlabama, a pool on a spruit north of the Molopo River.[3]


Skilpadshek/Pioneer Gate border checkpoint

The border has a large number of official crossings, the most important of which are Skilpadshek/Pioneer Gate on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor and Ramatlabama on the road and railway from Mahikeng to Gaborone. The crossings are listed from west to east in the table below.[4]

Botswana South Africa Opening hours Notes Geographical coordinates
Road Border post Road Border post
  Twee Rivieren R360 Twee Rivieren 07:30–16:00 Crossing in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park; tourist use only. 26°28′12″S 20°36′56″E / 26.4701°S 20.6156°E / -26.4701; 20.6156 (Two Rivers / Twee Rivieren border crossing)
  Middlepits   Middelputs 07:30–16:00   26°40′14″S 21°52′57″E / 26.6705°S 21.8826°E / -26.6705; 21.8826 (Middlepits / Middelputs border crossing)
B210 McCarthy's Rest R380 McCarthy's Rest 06:00–18:00   26°12′05″S 22°34′04″E / 26.2015°S 22.5679°E / -26.2015; 22.5679 (McCarthy's Rest border crossing)
A20 Makopong R375 Makopong 08:00–16:00   25°21′55″S 22°58′29″E / 25.3653°S 22.9747°E / -25.3653; 22.9747 (Makopong border crossing)
  Bray R375 Bray 07:00–16:00   25°27′24″S 23°42′51″E / 25.4566°S 23.7141°E / -25.4566; 23.7141 (Bray border crossing)
A1 Ramatlabama N18 Ramatlabama 06:00–22:00 Main line of Botswana Railways also crosses the border here. 25°38′31″S 25°34′27″E / 25.6419°S 25.5742°E / -25.6419; 25.5742 (Ramatlabama border crossing)
A2 Pioneer Gate N4 Skilpadshek 06:00–00:00 Trans-Kalahari Corridor 25°16′32″S 25°42′50″E / 25.2756°S 25.7138°E / -25.2756; 25.7138 (Pioneer Gate / Skilpadshek border crossing)
A11 Ramotswa   Swartkopfontein 06:00–22:00   24°52′21″S 25°52′57″E / 24.8725°S 25.8826°E / -24.8725; 25.8826 (Ramotswa / Swartkopfontein border crossing)
A12 Tlokweng R47 Kopfontein 06:00–24:00   24°42′23″S 26°05′38″E / 24.7064°S 26.0939°E / -24.7064; 26.0939 (Tlokweng / Kopfontein border crossing)
  Sikwane   Derdepoort 06:00–19:00   24°38′33″S 26°24′13″E / 24.6426°S 26.4035°E / -24.6426; 26.4035 (Sikwane / Derdepoort border crossing)
B145 Parr's Halt R572 Stockpoort 05:00–18:00   23°24′10″S 27°21′24″E / 23.4027°S 27.3567°E / -23.4027; 27.3567 (Parr's Halt / Stockpoort border crossing)
B140 Martin's Drift N11 Groblersbrug 06:00–22:00   22°59′53″S 27°56′31″E / 22.9981°S 27.9419°E / -22.9981; 27.9419 (Martin's Drift / Groblersbrug border crossing)
  Zanzibar R561 Zanzibar 08:00–16:00 Temp. closed – Impassable when the Limpopo is in flood. 22°34′19″S 28°27′59″E / 22.5719°S 28.4663°E / -22.5719; 28.4663 (Zanzibar border crossing)
  Platjan   Platjan 08:00–16:00 Impassable when the Limpopo is in flood. 22°29′08″S 28°50′01″E / 22.4855°S 28.8337°E / -22.4855; 28.8337 (Platjan border crossing)
  Pontdrif R521 Pontdrif 08:00–16:00 Impassable to vehicles when the Limpopo is in flood; a cable car carries pedestrians. 22°12′53″S 29°08′18″E / 22.2148°S 29.1382°E / -22.2148; 29.1382 (Pontdrif border crossing)


  1. ^ "South Africa". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Brownlie, Ian (1979). "Botswana–South Africa". African Boundaries: A Legal and Diplomatic Encyclopaedia. London: C. Hurst & Co. pp. 1091–1097. ISBN 0903983877.
  3. ^ a b c d e Botswana–South Africa Boundary (PDF) (Report). International Boundary Study No. 122. United States Department of State. 12 May 1972. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  4. ^ "South African Ports of Entry". Department of Home Affairs. Archived from the original on 28 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.