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Sol Plaatje,
Native Life in South Africa

Chapter 23

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Introduction etc. | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Appendices etc.

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Chapter XXIII   The Boer Rebellion

  Arm, arm, Burghers; we never had more cause!
  The Goths have gathered head; and with a power
  of high-resolved men, bent to the spoil,
  They hither march amain, under conduct
  Of Manie, son to old Gerit Maritz,
  Who threats in course of his revenge, to do
  As much as ever Black Bambata did.

The following telegram was published by the South African Government: --

                                   October 13, 1914.

Ever since the resignation of General C. F. Beyers as Commandant-General
of the Citizen Force, there have been indications that something was wrong
with the forces in the north-west of the Cape Province, which were placed
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel S. G. Maritz.

The Government at once arranged to send Colonel Conraad Brits
to take over the command from Lieutenant-Colonel Maritz.

On the 8th instant Colonel Brits sent a message to Maritz
to come in and report to him.  To this message Maritz replied
in a most insolent manner that he was not going to report to anybody.
All he wanted was his discharge, and Colonel Brits must come himself
and take over his command.

Colonel Brits then sent Major Ben Bouwer to take over the command.

                                 An Ultimatum

On arrival at Maritz's camp, Major Bouwer was taken prisoner
with his companions, but personally was subsequently released and sent back
with an ultimatum from Maritz to the Union Government to the effect that:

Unless the Government guaranteed to him before ten o'clock on Sunday morning,
October 11, that they should allow Generals Hertzog, De Wet, Beyers,
Kemp, and Muller to meet him where he was, in order that he might receive
instructions from them, he would forthwith make an attack
on General Brits's forces and proceed further to invade the Union.

Major Ben Bouwer reported that Maritz was in possession of some guns
belonging to the Germans, and that he held the rank of General
commanding the German troops.

He had a force of Germans under him in addition to his own rebel commando.

He had arrested all those of his officers and men who were unwilling
to join the Germans, and had then sent them forward as prisoners
to German South West Africa.

Major Bouwer saw an agreement between Maritz and the Governor
of German South West Africa guaranteeing the independence of the Union
as a republic, ceding Walfish Bay and certain other portions of the Union
to the Germans, and undertaking that the Germans would only invade the Union
on the invitation of Maritz.

Major Bouwer was shown numerous telegrams and helio messages
dating back to the beginning of September.  Maritz boasted
that he had ample guns, rifles, ammunition, and money from the Germans,
and that he would overrun the whole of South Africa.

In view of this state of affairs the Government is taking
the most vigorous steps to stamp out the rebellion and inflict
condign punishment on all rebels and traitors.  A proclamation
declaring martial law throughout the Union will appear
in a Gazette Extraordinary to-day.*

* "U. G. No. 10-'15", pp. 22-24.

This treachery was more fully described by a Cape Attorney
-- a subaltern in the Citizen Force under Maritz -- in the following letter
to the `Transvaal Leader':

"We arrived at Kakamas," he writes, "after a long and wearisome trek
through Bushmanland, a company of about eighty, consisting mostly
of raw farmer youths.

"We remained in camp for about six weeks, and, in the first week of October,
orders came from Maritz for 200 troops, comprising the Calvinia, Clanwilliam,
and Kenhardt men, to strike camp and trek toward the German border.

"Two days later the remaining men in camp, consisting of
the Kakamas members of the Defence Force, some Kakamas Volunteers,
and our own troop, altogether about 300 men, likewise trekked
in that direction.  After two days' riding, we came to a farm
called Blokzijnputs, where we met the first 200 men.

"The village of Keimoes was crowded with German troops; our men and officers
were walking and talking among them on the friendliest possible terms,
and the German and the old Transvaal Republican flags were flying
side by side.

"In a very short time we were made fully aware of the position.
The act of treachery which led up to it was being freely discussed
by everybody, and then I realized that `we' -- I say `we',
for I never for one second doubted that most of our men would refuse
to turn rebels -- had been caught like rats in a trap.

"But a further shock awaited me.  About half an hour after our arrival
we were summoned to fall in before Maritz, who then addressed the crowd.

"He first spoke about the Government wishing to force him over the border
with a lot of untrained and unarmed youngsters, and went on to say
that he refused to sacrifice their lives.

"After a bitter attack on the characters of Generals Smuts and Botha,
he denounced the British Empire as a whole, and wound up by declaring himself
an out and out rebel.

"He stated that he was going to fight against the Union
and Imperial Governments for the independence of South Africa,
and called upon all who were unwilling to follow him,
or `had the English feeling in them', to stand on one side.

                        "Ten Loyal out of Six Hundred"

"This speech was followed by a short speech in German
by the representative of the Governor-General of German South-West Africa.

"Then followed a scene which can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
All our men started to shout, cheer, and throw up their hats -- all except
ten of us, who stood there looking, I suppose, more dead than alive.
Just imagine, out of 600 men actually trekking towards the border
to invade German territory only ten refused to turn rebels.

"However, after recovering somewhat, we approached our captain (Beukes)
and told him we were not going to join Maritz, and asked him to see
that we were not sent to Windhuk.  This Maritz had given us to understand
was the only alternative to joining him."

The writer proceeds to state that after being kept prisoners for some time
they were set free forty miles from a Union troop frontier post.
-- `Central News'.*

* See also Appendix to the "Report of the Select Committee on Rebellion",
  S.C. 1-'15.

                              In the "Free" State

General De Wet organized large commandos and took possession
of the town of Heilbron, held up a train and captured
Government stores and ammunition, some prominent Burghers
being among his active supporters; so much so that, a week later,
when President Steyn was endeavouring to get him to Bloemfontein,
in order to persuade him to discuss terms of peace with General Botha,
he had no fewer than 3,000 men under him.

General De Wet publicly unfurled the rebel banner in October,
when he entered the town of Reitz at the head of an armed commando.
Some of his men assaulted the postmaster, who was in the act
of telegraphing the news to the capital, and destroyed his instruments.
The guerrilla General addressed an open-air meeting, which he ordered
the Magistrate to attend.  When that official "refused to attend
a rebel meeting" General De Wet sent six men to compel him,
and to use violence if necessary.

Having thus forcibly secured the attendance of the Magistrate,
he proceeded to unbosom himself as follows:  "Ladies, gentlemen, and burghers,
I have asked you to come together here to explain to you my position."

Then turning to the Magistrate, he said:  "Magistrate, I want you to get
a shorthand writer to take down every word that I am going to say,
because whatever I may do in future I can never commit
a greater act of rebellion than I have already committed.
I am going through to Maritz, where we will receive arms and ammunition,
and from there we are going to Pretoria to pull down the British flag
and proclaim a free South African republic.  All those who side with me
must follow me, and those who side with the Government must go to it.
I signed the Vereeniging Treaty and swore to be faithful to the British flag,
but we have been so downtrodden by the miserable and pestilential English
that we can endure it no longer.  His Majesty King Edward VII
promised to protect us, but he has failed to do so, and allowed a Magistrate
to be placed over us who is an absolute tyrant, and has made it impossible
for us to tolerate it any longer.  I was charged before him for beating
a native boy.  I only did it with a small shepherd's whip, and for that
I was fined 5s.*  (Here the Magistrate interrupted him and asked him
whether he did not plead guilty.  He admitted that he had pleaded guilty,
and ordered the Magistrate to keep quiet, and he would allow him
to say as much as he liked when he had finished speaking,
and if he would not hold his tongue he would make him hold it.)

* General Smuts, after this, christened the rising as
  "the Five Shilling Rebellion".

"But," continued General De Wet, "after the Magistrate had delivered judgment,
instead of reprimanding the boy and ordering him in future
to be obedient and do his duty, he looked at the Native as if he would like
to give him a kiss.  The Magistrate is a brother-in-law of a man
for whom I have the greatest respect and who is very dear to me
(President Steyn), and for that reason I will give him another chance,
otherwise I would have taken him prisoner and handed him over to the Germans.
The Magistrate's father was one of the staunchest pillars of the church,
and if he were alive to-day he would be heart and soul with me
in this movement, and condemn the dastardly act of robbery
which the Government are going to commit.

"The ungodly policy of Botha has gone on long enough; the South African Dutch
are going to stand as one man to crush this unholy scandal.
Some of my friends have advised me to wait a little longer
until England has received a bigger knock, but it is beneath me and my people
to kick a dead dog.  England has got her hands full enough.
I hate the lies which are continually being spread to the effect
that thousands of Australians, Canadians and Indians can be sent to fight us.
Where will England get them from?  She has enough to fight her own battles.

"I am going through the town to take the following six articles,
viz., horses, saddles, bridles, halters, arms and ammunition,
and if anybody should refuse to hand to my men these articles,
if they should be found in their possession, I will give him a thrashing
with a sjambok.  I now order the storekeepers to go and open their shops
and I will select men to go round and take whatever I require
apart from the above articles, and they will give receipts for what they take;
and if they do not open their shops willingly I will open them in another way.
My advice to you English is to remain quiet in your houses and not interfere
with my men, and if you don't, beware when I come back!
I have got my eight sons and sons-in-law here with me,
and the only people left on my farm are my wife and daughter.
Anybody can go and see if they like, and I request the Magistrate
to give them any help they may require, if he will do so."

Mr. Wessel Wessels, a famous "Free" State politician,
having taken possession of Harrismith in the name of General De Wet,
was alleged to have had the audacity to send letters to Chief Ntsane Mopedi,
of the Harrismith district, and to the Paramount Chief of Basutoland,
informing them that, with the assistance of the Germans, the Boers were going
to drive away the English and re-proclaim a Dutch Republic
in South Africa; and requesting those chiefs to remain neutral
while the annihilation of the English was in progress.
Only in case the English should arm the Indians, were they to mobilize
their warriors (the Basutos) on the side of the Boer-German combination.

    Dit is ver weg na Tippererie,
     Dit is ver om te gaan;
    Dit is ver weg na Tippererie,
     Om my hart se punt te zien.
        Goen dag, Pikadillie
        Vaarwel, Lester-squeer;
    Dit is ver, ver weg na Tippererie
     Maar my hart le net daar.
                             "Tipperary" in Cape Dutch.

The Dutch, like other people, also had a prophet.  Many stories
were told since the outbreak of the war by the seer, Van Rensburg,
and among other visions credited to him he was said to
have dreamt of the impending "removal of the British yoke
from the necks of Afrikanders", and the forthcoming expulsion
from South Africa of the English people and their flag,
with the aid of Germany.

Whatever might be said about what the prophet Van Rensburg
had foretold in other respects, the prophecies attributed to him
in regard to the European War resemble other war prophecies
(credited to French, Russian, and German women), in that the wish, it seems,
is often father to the thought.

The lower middle-class Boers attach great weight to the guesses
of native bonethrowers.  It is strange sometimes when a Malay charmer
is prosecuted for imposing on the public to find Dutch witnesses
giving evidence of the healing powers possessed by the accused and emphasizing
the absurdity of prosecuting a man who benefited them and their relatives
more than many a certificated medical man.

Moreover, the forecasts credited to Van Rensburg seemed to have found
ample corroboration in the cabled newspaper accounts of the rapid advance
of the armies of General Von Kluck through Belgium towards Paris,
and in the minds of such gullible patriots as the South African Boers
this telegraphic war news acted like manure on a fertile field.

                            The Seer Van Rensburg*

* "U.G. No. 10-'15".

The seer was Nicolas van Rensburg, of Lichtenburg, a simple
and illiterate farmer.  He was a prophet not without honour
in his own country.  On many occasions he had given proof positive
of the possession of extraordinary powers of prevision,
so men said and believed.  It would be out of place here
to give examples of the many telepathic forecasts (or happy guesses)
with which he was credited.  It is certain that he had a great hold
on the imagination of thousands of his people.  During the Anglo-Boer War
some commandos, when Van Rensburg was in their lager,
neglected all precautions.  If "Oom Niklaas" declared that the English
were not in the neighbourhood, it was a waste of energy
to post sentries and keep a look out.

His reputation had, strangely enough, not diminished since the war.
This was perhaps due to several causes.  He had never attempted
to exploit his "gift" and impressed most of those who came
in contact with him with his apparent sincerity.  If he duped others,
it seemed he also duped himself.  Moreover, and this was perhaps
the secret of his continued success, his "visions" were invariably
symbolic and mysterious; they possessed an adaptability of character
that was truly Delphic.  Indeed, his hearers were compelled
to put their own interpretation upon his visions.  The seer seldom pretended
to understand or explain them himself.

General De la Rey took a great interest in the seer, who had belonged
to his commandos during the Anglo-Boer War.  Van Rensburg again
had the greatest admiration for General De la Rey, and had frequently
hinted to his circle that great things were in store for the General.
One of his visions had been well known to General De la Rey and his friends
for some years.  The seer had beheld the number 15 on a dark cloud,
from which blood issued, and then General De la Rey returning home
without his hat.  Immediately afterwards came a carriage covered
with flowers.*  What these things portended, Van Rensburg could not say.
He believed that they signified some high honour for the General. . . .

* General De la Rey was accidentally shot on the night of September 15.
  The last house he stayed in was No. 15, and the funeral train
  that brought his body to Lichtenburg had a carriage full of floral tributes.

When the war at last broke out, the effect in Lichtenburg was instantaneous.
The prophecies of Van Rensburg were eagerly recalled, and it was remembered
that he had foretold a day on which the independence of the Transvaal
would be restored.  One officer actually called up his men
to be in readiness on Sunday, August 9, as that would be the day on which
the prophecy would be fulfilled.  After this, too, certain individuals
could be seen daily cleaning their rifles and cartridges in order to be ready
for THE DAY.  Several men in this district claimed to be
in regular communication with German South-West Africa before August, 1914.
Within a week of the declaration of war between England and Germany
the district was further profoundly stirred by the news
(now become generally known) that a great meeting of local burghers
was to be held at Treurfontein on August 15, and that certain local officers
were commandeering their burghers to come to this meeting
armed and fully equipped for active service. . . .

The meeting was to be addressed by General De la Rey,
and it was generally believed that the assembled burghers
would march on Potchefstroom immediately after the meeting.

The prophecies of Van Rensburg had a great deal to do with the excitement
which had been produced locally.  The strange vision of the number 15,
which had long been common knowledge, was now discussed with intense interest.
The 15, it was said, signified August 15, the day of the meeting.
That would be THE DAY, which had been so long expected --
the day of liberation.  Van Rensburg was now the oracle.
His prophecies with regard to the great war had been signally fulfilled.
Germany was at grips with England, and her triumph was looked upon
as inevitable.

The day had arrived to strike a blow for their lost independence.
Van Rensburg assured his following that the Union Government was "finished".
Not a shot would be fired.  The revolution would be complete and bloodless.

Between the 10th and the 15th the plotters in Lichtenburg
were actively preparing for the day.  There is evidence
that German secret agents were working in concert with them.
The 15th would mark the beginning of a new era.  When doubters asked
how they could be so certain that the 15 signified a day of the month
-- and of the month of August in particular -- they were scornfully
if illogically told that "in God's time a month sooner or later
made no difference."

The Government had been informed by its local supporters
of these alarming preparations.  It was quite clear that an attempt
was to be made on the 15th to start a rebellion.  Everything would depend
on the meeting which was to be addressed by General De la Rey.
General De la Rey's position in the Western Transvaal was unique.
He possessed an unrivalled influence and was looked up to
as the uncrowned King of the West.  His attitude at the meeting
would sway the mass of his adherents and decide the question of peace or war.

General Botha summoned General De la Rey to Pretoria some days
before the meeting, and was able to persuade him to use his best endeavours
to calm the excited feelings which had been aroused and to use his influence
to see that no untoward incidents should occur.

On Saturday, the 15th, the great meeting was held.  About 800 burghers
were present.  General De la Rey addressed them and explained
the situation in Europe.  He exhorted his audience to remain cool and calm
and to await events.  After the address "a strange and unusual silence"
was observed.  A resolution was passed unanimously expressing complete
confidence in the Government to act in the best interests of South Africa
in the present world-crisis.  The address seemed to have had
a very good effect.  The burghers appeared to have taken their leader's advice
to heart, as they dispersed quietly to their homes.

All danger of a rebellious movement had apparently been averted,
but only for a time.

The Potchefstroom `Herald' tells a story of what it describes
as "the inner history of a damnable plot", and of how near
Potchefstroom* was to falling into the hands of the rebels through
the treachery of Beyers and his accomplices on the night of September 15,
which was the date on which the late General De la Rey was killed.

* The old capital of Transvaal where General De Wet and General Kemp
  held the dramatic meeting on October 2, 1914.

It is unquestionable (says the `Herald') that Beyers, who was forced to admit
that he was on his way to Potchefstroom when the accident happened,
was to have started an attempt to overthrow the Government
with the aid of the men, over 2,000 in number, who had just finished
their period of three weeks' training in the Active Citizen Camp
at Potchefstroom.  Both he and Kemp had resigned their positions,
and, knowing the treacherous mission upon which he was setting out that night
as the emissary of the German enemy, little wonder was it that at Langlaagte
Beyers cowered with fear, and lost his nerve entirely, because he thought
his own arrest was at hand.

Continuing the account, the paper says:  On the morning parade
on Tuesday morning the rebel Colonels Bezuidenhout and Kock
had each addressed their men in an attempt to imbue them
with a spirit of revolt against their own Government.
All the Dutch-speaking Afrikanders were advised not to volunteer
for German South-West; that was the job of the Englishman.
The officers plainly said that they had no intention of doing their duty:
they had other fish to fry.  And they permitted the few volunteers
who stood out in spite of them to be jeered at by the "neutrals".
The disgrace of that early morning parade scene must for ever be upon
the traitors concerned.  It was certain that dastardly influences
were at work, but thanks to the sterling loyalty of certain men
from among the Dutch population, the plans of the conspirators
were more or less known, and arrangements were made to checkmate them.
All honour to these true patriots who took a big risk
for the safety of the country.

That evening a meeting of Britishers took place in Potchefstroom
to discuss the situation (says the `Herald'), and it was agreed
that its seriousness was such as to necessitate direct communication
with General Smuts, which was duly carried out.  For one thing,
practically all Britishers were unarmed.  How critical was the position,
or how near Potchefstroom was to complete disaster, was not then
fully realized.  On that night, too, there was another and more sinister
meeting in the town.  It was at a certain house in Berg Street,
where a number of residents, male and female, who can be named,
expected the arrival of the chief conspirator.  Then, too,
at the Defence Force headquarters Kemp had stored a quantity of ammunition
that was altogether out of proportion to the requirements of his district,
and during the week there had been frequent communications with
the Lichtenburg "prophet".  Beyers had arranged to reach the Defence Force
at 3 a.m., where motor-cars waited.

Later he was to have marched upon the town with all the armed men
he could bring under his influence, knowing full well,
by previous arrangement, that he could rely on the aid of rebels
within Potchefstroom itself.  So intense was the feeling of danger
in camp that night that loyal officers slept with loaded revolvers at hand
and all the spare ammunition under the beds.  The Union Jack
was to be supplanted and the new Republic was to be declared
with the Vierkleur flying -- or would it have been the German flag?
That was the morning of September 16, and as showing
the concerted character of the traitorous plans, it should be noted that
the proclamation signed by the Governor-General of German South-West Africa,
the "scrap of paper" used as a sop for the Boers, was dated for
the self-same day.

                         Plot Providentially Thwarted

But the motor-car tragedy in the dark at Langlaagte was the second blow
to this criminal plot (continues the paper), and when Beyers,
trembling and unnerved, spoke through the telephone at midnight
on September 15, telling of the fatal shot, and that his journey
had been cut short, those who had waited in the camp and in the town
knew that, for the time being at any rate, the little game was up.
Kemp, of course, at once tried to withdraw his resignation, but luckily
General Smuts gave the snub direct.  Already the names of local men
to be terrorized, and even shot, were in the mouths of the irreconcilables
-- skulking cowards for the most part -- of whom more must yet be written
in the interests of public morality.

That night Potchefstroom might easily have fallen into the hands
of the rebel crew, sharing the fate of the Free State towns or worse,
and loyalists, both English and Dutch, must thank an ever-watchful Providence
for being saved from a position of ignominy and humiliation.

If all this be true,* and the Government had been informed of it,
one cannot understand why General Beyers, with his fingers steeped in treason,
was let loose upon the community to poison the loyalty of the Dutch
along the country-side and to complicate the task of the Government.
It seems that he should have been detained that evening,
and thereby, having been turned from the path of suicide, other lives
would also have been saved.  When one considers the amount of harm
that he was able to do subsequently, it is staggering to think
what the task of the loyalists would have been had his plans been reinforced
by the success of this night plot.  It would have given
a link of tremendous power to the rebel movement throughout the country
if they had captured the stores, munitions, and a ready army that awaited
General Beyers's arrival at Potchefstroom.  The fact that some Burghers
were found organizing rebel commandos in the "Free" State and Transvaal
even after the capture of General De Wet and the drowning of General Beyers
ought to show the prevailing Backveld spirit up to the early months of 1915.

* The `Herald's' story has since been confirmed by the Government Blue Book
  on the Rebellion.

When the rebels were tried in Pretoria and elsewhere in January and February,
Burghers crowded the law courts and rose to their feet,
as if in token of their fellow-feeling with the prisoners,
each time a rebel was placed in the dock.  At Pretoria,
this vaunting demonstration seems only to have been ended
by the announcement of the Magistrate that if they did it again
he would have to clear the court.  It is not stated, however,
whether the prisoners duly acknowledged the sympathy thus shown
with a bow from the dock.  One member of Parliament (not a rebel)
is said to have swaggered into the Bloemfontein court and, after shaking hands
with the prisoners, conversed with them in an audible tone.

Nothing better illustrates the unsatisfactory nature of the South African
military appointments than the Press report that the English artillerymen
who served under Maritz were in constant danger of their lives, and that,
realizing this fact, they were compelled sometimes to keep their machine guns
trained on their comrades.  The poor men must have had an awful time,
literally "sleeping with one eye wide open".

When Colonel Maritz at length threw off the mask and openly proclaimed
his treachery, he put these artillerymen under arrest and handed them over
to the Germans as prisoners of war.

Of course, if the Government of the Union was as well administered
as was the Cape Government before it, such things would have been impossible,
because only tried men with military experience would have been appointed
to the command of the Union Forces -- men whose loyalty was beyond reproach --
that is to say, if high official appointments went by merit and not by favour.
A professional lawyer like General Beyers would have been the last person
to get a position which should have been given to a trained soldier,
of whom there are many in the country.  But as his appointment took place
at a time when some English officials were politely removed
from high positions to make room for influential Dutchmen,
and in certain cases useless posts, such as "Inspector of white labour",
and inspector of goodness-knows-what (all of them carrying high emoluments),
were created for political favourites, General Beyers's appointment
caused no surprise, as the "pitchfork" had already become
part of our Government machinery.  But how such a man as Manie Maritz
became a Colonel in the Colonial Defence Force is one of those things which,
as Lord Dundreary would say, "no fellah can understand".

The man is not only said to have rebelled during the South African war,
but he is also said to have escaped to German South Africa
to evade the consequence, and that he only returned to British South Africa
when the Boers got their constitution.  And when British officers
like Colonel Mackenzie and Colonel Lukin apparently acquiesce
in an appointment that places them on a level with a man like that,
the voteless black taxpayer who has no control over these appointments
cannot be blamed for feeling perplexed at the turn events are taking.

Here is an expression of this perplexity:  The old chief Tshabadira
asked the Government Secretary in 1913, at Thaba Nchu,
"How many kings have we?  Is there an English King and a Dutch King,
each trying to rule in his own way?  And since we cannot very well
follow both, which one are we to obey?"  Dutch and English colonists
have ruled the Cape for forty years and no such questions were ever asked.

If General De Wet were to be tried by a court of native chiefs,
who followed "the wheels of administration" during the past five years,
they would in all probability decide that the British Government,
to which he pledged his allegiance, and the semi-Republican Government
against which he rebelled are two entirely different bodies.
They would possibly reason that he pledged his allegiance
to a Greater Britain -- or to localize it, to a Greater Cape Colony,
not to a Greater Transvaal.

The Cape Colony is often reproached because native taxpayers
within its boundaries have votes and help their white neighbours
to elect members of Parliament.  But strange to say,
when a revolutionary mob seized the South African railways in 1914, it was
the railway men of the much-abused Cape who, in spite of the native vote,
dragged the Government out of a serious situation.  Similarly when
these high officers of the Defence Force in Transvaal and Orange "Free" State
rebelled and joined the Germans with their commandos, the Dutchmen of the Cape
(presumably because "they vote side by side with the Kafirs")
denounced the treachery in unmistakable terms.  The South African party
at the Cape beat up its followers to the support of the Government,
and the voice of the Cape section of the Dutch Reformed Church
rang from pulpit and platform in denunciation of disloyalty and treason.
But in the Northern Provinces, where white men are pampered and guarded
by the Government against the so-called humiliation of allowing
native taxpayers to vote, there the rebellion, having been regarded
with seeming approval, gained a marvellous impetus.

And the strangest of all these things is how men with bank balances
like the Dutchmen of Transvaal and the Orange "Free" State
could fail to appreciate the debt they owe to the British Navy,
by which the commercial routes from South Africa to the outer world
are kept open to them, when practically the whole world is ablaze.

The banner of revolt having been unfurled, the "Free" State towns of Reitz,
Heilbron, and Harrismith being in the hands of "Free" State rebels,
martial law was proclaimed, and General Botha, as forecasted
in the native letter quoted in a previous chapter, assumed command
of the Union Forces and squelched the upheaval.  Altogether the rebellion
cost South Africa some of the finest of its young men.
Dutch, English, coloured and native families suffered the loss of their sons
in the flower of their youth, including among many others,
prominent South Africans, such as Mr. W. Pickering, the general secretary
of the Kimberley mines, and Mr. Justice Hopley of Rhodesia,
who each lost a son.

One loss which the Natives, judging by articles in their newspapers,
will not easily forget is that of Captain William Allan King,
the late Sub-Commissioner of Pretoria.  He was shot by a rebel,
on November 23, near Hamaanskraal, whilst helping a wounded trooper.
In his lifetime his duties brought him in touch with employers of labour
in the Pretoria Labour District and with Natives from all over South Africa.
A non-believer in the South African policy of least resistance, he was
without doubt the ablest native administrator in the Transvaal Civil Service,
and as such the vacancy caused by his death will be very hard to fill.
He was an expert on Native matters, and no commission ever sat
without his being summoned to give evidence before it.

The Natives called him "Khoshi-ke-Nna", which means "I am the Chief".
A firm but just Englishman, with a striking military gait,
he would have been an ideal leader of the native contingents
had the offer of native help been accepted by the Union Government.

The casualty list on both sides exceeded one thousand.
Over ten thousand rebels were imprisoned, of whom 293 leaders will be tried,
the rest being detained up till the end of the trouble.

After various encounters with the Union forces under General Botha,
General De Wet suffered a series of heavy defeats.  Many of
his followers surrendered, and his son was killed on the battlefield.
He tried to escape to German South West Africa, but was overtaken and captured
in Bechuanaland, with fifty followers, including his secretary, Mr. Oost,
formerly editor of a Pretoria weekly paper.

Considering his initial bounce and bluster, General De Wet's surrender
was a particularly tame affair.  Said the captive to the captor:
"I seem to know you -- are you not Jordaan?"  "Yes, General,"
replied the captor.  "I saw you at Vereeniging where we made peace."
"Very well," rejoined the captive, "I must congratulate you
on your achievement.  It was very smart.  Anyway, I am glad
that I am taken by you and not by an Englishman."*

* Gen. De Wet was tried and sentenced by the Special court
  to six years' imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 Pounds.

General Kemp succeeded in eluding his pursuers by means of forced marches
across the Kalahari desert, and effected a junction with Maritz
in German South West Africa; but after only a few weeks' taste of German rule
he returned to the Union and surrendered with his commando and all arms,
evidently satisfied with British rule.  Some of his men were wearing
German uniforms.  The prophet Rensburg, carrying a big umbrella,
also surrendered with him.

General Beyers was the first to succumb.  Cornered by the loyal forces,
he was driven up against the Vaal River in flood.  With his pursuers
on the one side and the raging torrent on the other, he was drowned
in an ill-starred attempt to escape across that treacherous river.
Parties were sent out to drag the river and search for the body,
and a reward of 50 Pounds was offered to the finder.
Mrs. Beyers left Pretoria in a special train with a coffin on board,
to join the search party.  She was accompanied by a few relatives and friends,
including one doctor of medicine and one minister of religion.  They travelled
along the Johannesburg-Kimberley line as far as Maquasi, near the river,
where they received tidings of the recovery of General Beyers's body.
It was found by a Dutch farmer, who promptly claimed the 50 Pound reward.

A telegram to Pretoria brought back a reply from General Smuts
stating that it was inadvisable to convey the body to the capital
at the time, so he was buried by the parson on the veld
to the accompaniment of lightning flashes which blind the eye,
and salutes of loud peals of African thunder, which shake the earth
in a manner that is known only to persons who have spent a summer
in the interior of South Africa.

It is said that the late General insured his life so heavily before
the outbreak that representatives of the several insurance companies concerned
had to meet after his death and consider the matter of their liability.

The remainder of the story of the "Five Shilling Rebellion" is soon told.
After the proclamation of martial law the Premier assumed
the supreme command of the Union forces and called out all the citizens --
the whites to arms and the blacks as drivers and manual labourers
at the front.  Some Boers who could not give a satisfactory excuse
disobeyed the call, and were sentenced to terms of imprisonment
with hard labour under the Defence Act.  Thus backed by the overwhelming
support of the various peoples of the Union of all creeds and colours,
the Prime Minister made a clean sweep of the rising,
and in less than two months the Rt. Hon. Louis Botha was once again
master of the situation from the shores of the Indian Ocean in the east
to the Atlantic coast in the west.  And when the rebel leaders
were cogitating over the situation in durance vile, the Prime Minister
was sending a message from German South West Africa, on February 26,
asking Parliament to deal leniently with the rebels.

    Keise qusa Tipereri,
    Kgam'se gaqu ha;
    Keise qusa Tipereri
    Artie ti gxawo si mu.
    Hamnci gqo Pikadili.
    Hamnci Gqo Lester Skuer
    Keise qusa, qusa Tipereri
    Mar, ti xawo nxeba ha.
                             "Tipperary" in Qoranna.*

* This language is also spoken by the Namaquas and some of the tribes
  in German South West Africa.

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This work (Sol Plaatje, Native Life in South Africa) is out of copyright, but see the Project Gutenberg legal notice.