Zara Hottentot (c.1647 - 1671)

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Birthplace: Cape Peninsula
Death: Died
Managed by: Dries Potgieter
Last Updated:

About Zara Hottentot

"Sara was a Khoikhoi girl, a servant for wages, who practised concubinage with various Europeans, grew up in a settler home, spoke Portuguese and Dutch, attended Christian services, and who, on 18 December 1671, committed suicide at the age of 24. The report of the autopsy confirmed her death by suffocation, but the records are silent on the reason for her suicide.

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Ten Rhyne, aphysician and member of the Council of Justice of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia, wrote on 30 July 1674 that he had met Sara and that she had committed suicide “in despair because a loose Dutchman, in order to have free enjoyment of her, promised her marriage but failed of his word”. Although it is impossible that the author had met Sara, the reason he supplied for her suicide may well have been true. Another reason put forward is that she was “culturally challenged”."

- Read CRIMINAL JUSTICE AT THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY: NARRATIVES OF INFANTICIDE AND SUICIDE by Gardiol van Niekerk (University of South Africa)

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Mansell Upham

Was the 'Dutch Hottentot' suicide Zara the first and the last victim of public impalement and denial of burial at the Cape? Did the trial of her corpse in 1671 serve Dutch needs to 'justify' their colonial occupation of that tip of Africa called Cabo in terms of the then existing 'European' / 'international'conventions?

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Zara Hottentot's Timeline

1647
1647
Cape Peninsula
1671
December 18, 1671
Age 24