The Slagtersnek rebels are tried in the Uithenhage landdros court
Date: 15 December, 1815
Frederik Bezuidenhout owned a farm east of the Cape Colony. After reports surfaced that he was allegedly mistreating one of his Khoikhoi laborers, he was summoned to appear in a magistrate's court. After failing to make an appearance, an attempt was made to arrest him. Bezuidenhout fled to a nearby cave where he was later discovered and shot. The fact that he was shot by a Coloured soldier was said to be part of the reason that Bezuidenhout's brother, Hans, wanted to take revenge for his brother's death.
Hans and his neighbor Hendrik Prinsloo planned an uprising against the British colonial government as they believed that the British favored Black and Coloured farmers over Afrikaner farmers. Burghers (farmers) in the surrounding areas were pressurized into joining this rebellion as Hans was said to have threatened them with death. On 18 November, this rebel group met with the forces of the military commander at Slagtersnek. Twenty rebels surrendered, but Hans refused to do so. He died while resisting arrest.
Those involved in the rebellion were tried in Uitenhage landdros court on 15 December 1815. One of the rebels was reprieved by Lord Charles Somerset but the others, Cornelis Faber (43), Stefanus Cornelis Botma (43), his brother Abraham Carel Botma (29), Hendrik Frederik Prinsloo (32) and Theunis de Klerk, were sentenced to death. The remaining rebels were acquitted or banished.
The execution of these rebels is as being a sore point with many Afrikaners and was cited as one of the reasons for the Great Trek. A monument in memory of the rebels was erected in 1919.
Giliomee, H. & Mbengwa, B. (eds) (2007) The Slagtersnek Rebellion in Die Nuwe Geskidenis van Suid Afrika. [online] Available: boek.nuwegeskiedenis.co.za/ [Accessed 8 December 2009] Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousse
http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/slagtersnek-rebels-are-tried-uithenhage-landdros-court http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CF_Bezuidenhout http://newhistory.co.za/Part-1-Chapter-2-A-cauldron-of-conflict-The-Slagtersnek-Rebellion/ http://books.google.co.za/books?id=EHpDZhjX4uAC&pg=PA48&lpg=PA48&dq=slagtersnek+monument&source=bl&ots=rB-Or9TLhL&sig=Y0ri6Yk2uIDs_ed9SqQ7JaGtckg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YxtjUbL8D8-p7AbFuoDIAg&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=slagtersnek%20monument&f=false
A Cauldron Of Conflict The Slagtersnek Rebellion In 1813 Andries Stockenstrom, a 20-year-old deputy landdrost stationed at the newly founded town of Cradock, faced a major test. Early in that year a Khoikhoi labourer named Booy lodged a complaint about his master. The master was Freek Bezuidenhout, a notorious frontier ruffian who lived with a Baster woman and whose Baster son called him ‘baas’. Booy claimed that his master had withheld his wages and had severely assaulted him.
Bezuidenhout was one of a number of disaffected, relatively poor colonists in the remote area of Bosberg, Bruintjeshoogte and Tarka. A shortage of land was a major source of discontent, and another was the presence on the frontier of Khoikhoi and other ‘coloured’ troops under white officers. As Stockenstrom would later remark, ‘the people were talking that the “black nation was protected and not the Christians”’. Stockenstrom would have a remarkable career as frontier administrator, spanning 25 years. He was an honest, brave and fiercely independent man who shrank from the hypocrisy so abundant in the frontier conflict. He was committed to the principles of the strict preservation of order, and equal and impartial justice to all. From the start, Stockenstrom saw the issue as involving a clear choice between order and civilisation on the one hand, and anarchy on the other.
When Bezuidenhout ignored the summons, a company of two British officers and twelve Khoikhoi troops arrived at Bezuidenhout’s house. A brief battle ensued and Bezuidenhout was killed. At the funeral a plot was hatched to embark on rebellion. The rebels’ plans were far-fetched. One proposed to make a deal with Ngqika. He could take possession of the Zuurveld in exchange for driving away the Cape Regiment, expelling all officials on the frontier and allowing the rebels to occupy the fertile Kat River Valley in the land of the Xhosa. Burghers who refused to join were threatened with death and having their families and property given over to the Xhosa.
Stockenstrom persuaded the influential burghers not to back the rebellion. In the end, there were only 60 rebels, who surrendered without a shot being fired. After being sentenced, five of the leaders were hanged. Most of the colonists now accepted British rule. In 1816 Stockenstrom observed that ‘the greatest majority of the Boer population was not opposed to equal justice to black and white’. The core problem, he believed, was the inadequacy of the legal and administrative system. Despite the establishment of some new districts, most farms were still a long distance from the towns, making it very difficult for masters to lay complaints before the magistrate.
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