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Joseph Perhat

Croatian: Josip
Also Known As: "Josip Perhat"
Birthplace: Sv. Jakov- Siljevica., Yugoslavia (Croatia)
Death: 1963 (82-83)
Umtali, Rhodesia (natural causes)
Immediate Family:

Son of Frank Perhat and Maria Perhat
Husband of Georgina Josephina Perhat
Father of Frank George Perhat; Frederick Peter Perhat; Olga Ellena Dias Dos Santos; Stephen Ivan (John) Perhat; Paul Edward Arnold Perhat and 4 others
Brother of Ivan (John) Perhat

Managed by: Lillian
Last Updated:

About Joseph Perhat

Known as Josip Perhat whislt in Yugoslavia, their family lived in St. Jakov Fiume, Croatio.

Frank and Mary lived in St Jakov Fiume, Croatio around the years 1879 and 1880.

( Now known as Jadranovo, a popular tourist spot between Kraljevica and Crikvenica on the coast of Mala Vrata, opposite the Island of Krk, now Croatia formerly Yugoslavia.)

Joseph Perhat was said to be descended from pirates of the Adriatic. The Italian Government is said to have sent their navy to destroy these marauding pirates who managed to escape inland. A family member fled with a bag of jewels which he dropped down a well, the where- abouts unknown but the family did seem to prosper. What with owning land on the Croatian mainland and part of an island in the Adriatic Sea. These properties belonged to Frank Perhat, Joseph’s father, who passed them down to his two sons, John, the eldest and Joseph , their three sisters getting their inheritance in cash. According to Joseph , Frank gave the boys their inheritance verbally before his death. The mainland went to John and the island to Joseph. John’s son Franjo, later built a stone home on the mainland. Communism resulted in the family losing a greater part of their property, but they did manage to retain small areas of their original inheritance. My Grandfather was Josip from St Jakov Fiume, Croatio born 13/04/1880. His parents were Frank and Maria Perhat who had two sons Ivan and Josip and three daughters who no one knows much about. Joseph being an adventurous type decided to explore, and both he and Ivan set off from their home country of Yugoslavia, by ship for the eastern shores of Africa. Joseph was then at the tender age of 17, which would have made it 1897. The brothers separated in Africa and Ivan returned without Josip , who stayed in Africa for the rest of his life never to return. Josip changed his name to Joseph or the locals changed it for him. He had arrived at Beira the capital of Portuguese East Africa around the year 1897. At this time he spoke no English and was a qualified stone mason.

He walked from Beira to Umtali, in Rhodesia, hitching a ride on the train’s back bogey until he was caught at Umtali, the border between Mocambique and Rhodesia

He was brought before Mr. Arthur Lawley, assistant to George Pauling, who was known for pioneering the railways throughout Rhodesia. They also constructed the majority of bridges and tunnels throughout Southern Africa. This meeting resulted in him managing

to get to Bulawayo where he sort work with a Jewish baker. He delivered bread by horse and cart to the bakers customers and in time Joseph started to take orders from the same customers, for other groceries. For his efforts of buying and delivering he was given tips which eventually paid for his own cart and these were the meager start to his fortune. The baker obviously took a liking to Joseph as he suggested that he put all the money he could afford into flour as they expected a shortage. He would then buy the flour from Joseph as he required it and sure enough, there was a shortage and Joseph made a great deal of money from this arrangement.

One day whilst delivering bread to Cecil John Rhodes, Rhodes noticed him and asked ‘why a strong boy like him was wasted delivering bread?’ Joseph told him that he was a stonemason and could not find work, whereupon Rhodes sent him directly to Bulawayo where the St. Mary’s Cathedral was being built and told him to report there saying Rhodes had sent him. Under Rhodes he managed to stay employed and accumulate a great deal of money even in time bringing relatives out from Yugoslavia, namely his sister and her husband. Their names

unknown to me.1906 Joseph decided to return home to Yugoslavia to visit his parents and so made his way to Cape Town to await a ship. However before he ever booked his fare to Yugoslavia he met George Reich of Spalatic Dalmazia Austria who invited him home to meet his large family of 13 children and his wife Elizabeth whom resided in Claremont Cape Town. This was where Joseph met Georgina Reich the eldest daughter of George and Elizabeth. Joseph courted Georgina and then on November 27th 1906 married her at the St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Rondebosch.

Joseph continued to make a great deal of money, purchasing acres of land in both Bulawayo, where Miekles(large departmental store) is now situated, and a hundred acres in Avondale Salisbury.

1910 Joseph and Georgina returned to Bulawayo where he continued to find work building the low lying stone railway bridges that were all over the country. As well as the base of most of the monuments that, were erected around Byo. i.e. The cannon, Rhodes statue etc. He said there was more money to be made in the bases.

He also built the Allan Wilson monument at Matopos and then later……

Joseph joined 6 other men to dig and complete the masonry on Rhodes’ grave at Worlds View Matopos. It is through his participation that we know that the stone that the plaque was mounted on was broken. There was another stone nearby that they dressed to cover the grave, which was done when the funeral procession was already on its way.

This photo shows Joseph’s Great granddaughter Megan at age 2 sitting on the edge of the grave in 1994.

Joseph and Georgina had nine children over the years, the first was lost when a wagon they were traveling in ran away down hill and the child was killed in the accident.

Then followed the births of:-

Name Date of Birth - Died

Frank George Perhat 19/09/1907 -

Stillborn baby girl 12/03/1909 - 12/03/1909

Joseph Fredrick Peter 18/11/1910 - / 1972

Arthur Mathew Paul Perhat 29/08/1913 -

Olga Ellena 17/11/191 - /11/2004

Stephen Ivan Perhat 02/04/1918 - 08/06/1998

Georgina Katelyn Perhat 12/06/1921

Paul Edward Arnold Perhat 29/06/192 /1998

Gladys Lillian Perhat 17/08/1930


In 1914 Joseph applied to be a British Subject. All the Yugoslav’s in Rhodesia had beensent to jail, due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb called Princip. This was a major factor leading to the 1st World War As a result of these events Joseph was not eligible for British citizenship and should have gone to jail. However his ties of friendship with Cecil John Rhodes kept him out of prison, but he was later to say that this favour had hindered him more in life than if he had actually gone to jail. He made that statement as, during the war years his business and home were burnt out 3 times by the locals, before he decided to leave for Mocambique. He then went to work for Sir Francis Newton, a top Rhodesian leader who wished to adopt Frank. Joseph was not agreeable and left to find his fortune in Mocambique.

1921 In 1921 Joseph took his entire family to Beira to build the new extension for the Savoy Hotel at the instigation of Arthur Lawley. Joseph tendered for a new building for Alan, Wack and Shepherd once the Savoy was done. He misquoted, due to problems with the foundation level. The ground in that area was so soft that he had used the entire quote allocation just in the foundation level and therefore he had to carry the cost of the finished building. At this same time, many Chinese had entered Mocambique and their labour was dirt cheap compared to the labour fees for the locals. These problems resulted in Joseph going bankrupt.

1928 He left the building trade to go mining as he had done on the Sinoia River , very successfully in Rhodesia. but once again things were against Joseph. He had left tenants, three brothers, on some of his property in Rhodesia and as they had not paid rent Joseph requested they pay what was due. This resulted in them visiting Joseph and Georgina at their home in the bush where they attacked Georgina injuring her with a pick through her breast whilst she held one of her babies. Joseph, who owned a gun, shot one of the brothers who later died from the doctoring skills of his two brothers in an effort to remove the bullet. As they had been in the wrong they had been reluctant to go to a doctor who would ask a lot of questions. The case of murder against Joseph went to court, both in Mozambique and Portugal, where Joseph was cleared of all charges, but it was documented incorrectly. The brothers swore to Immigration officials that if Joseph returned to Rhodesia they would kill him and so to protect him, we assume, official records marked him down as “an undesirable person”. Joseph Perhat was not allowed re entry into Rhodesia. It is not clear exactly which dates he went mining but during this period he bought the Bartholomew Diaz ship (? replica maybe) and sailed up the Pungwe River making bricks and selling them for a living. He also used his ship as transport along the Mozambique coast as well as chopping wood transporting it and selling it to the Beira Municipality. Perhaps this was a copy of the Diaz ship as it would not have lasted for 300 odd years).


When Joseph decided to go mining for gold in Macequece (pronounced masee kas) he was now hindered by the murder charge that had resulted in him having a criminal record. He was not allowed to purchase cyanide, which was used in the separating of gold from the ore, so for a while he mined gold from the river. This proved to be so profitable that it was thought Joseph was stealing the gold from somewhere else. Unbeknown to Joseph the police watched him until they were certain that it was in fact from his own mine. When he decided to mine gold from the mine he found trouble employing labour due to his fiery temper as well as getting a license to use cyanide, so Joseph sold the mine to Paul for an amount of 1 shilling and sixpence which resulted in a family feud years later. It is said that Paul refused to sign back the mine a few years later when Oppenheimer wanted to buy it for an amount of £20 000 as a result of Joseph’s profits. The initial investigation showed the mine to be much richer than it actually was. Due to the procrastination over the sale of the mine, further investigations done by Anglo America found that it was not worth the price they had offered and so the offer to purchase was retracted. The mine fell into disuse and the only remains were the rusted stamp mill last seen in the late 1950's by Coleen Perhat.

Georgina Josephina Perhat died on the 23.06.1952 at the age of 67. (At this time causes


Stephen John (Ivan) Perhat Dorothy Dean

1955 Joseph returned to Umtali, to live with Stephen, who had married Dorothy Dean. As he was not allowed into Rhodesia, Stephen put Joseph in the boot of the car and drove him across the border. There was no checking of the car at that time as people from Umtali came and went on a daily basis through the border post. At this time he was about 78 years of age. Joseph admitted to Dorothy that although Stephen was a very good son, he did not like him very much as every time he looked at him, he was reminded of his own brother whom he disliked(Ivan) now refered to as John. Due to Stephen and Dorothy’s efforts Joseph was granted Permanent Residence on the 22nd of May 1956, after much paperwork due to the incident involving his tenants in Mocambique. Throughout Joseph’s mining time Stephen had fitted the bill for a number of the mining costs, so also felt a bit cheated that Paul had retained the mine. Joseph was furious at Paul and decided to institute proceedings against Paul, despite Stephen and Dorothy’s pleadings to let things be, as this was his son after all. During this period Joseph had an argument with Stephen and left to live with his son Fred. In Fred’s household Joseph then blamed Stephen for all the upset with Paul. This bad feeling between brothers lasted almost 20 years before they reconciled.

1963/4 In about 1963/4 Joseph passed away

of natural causes.

(date to be verified) 

view all 12

Joseph Perhat's Timeline

April 12, 1880
Sv. Jakov- Siljevica., Yugoslavia (Croatia)
September 19, 1907
Matitice, Rhodesia
November 18, 1910
Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)
August 29, 1913
Mount Plesant, Salisbury, Rhodesia
November 17, 1915
Sinoia, Rhodesia
April 2, 1918
River Angwa, Rhodesia
June 29, 1919
Beira, Mozambique
Age 82
Umtali, Rhodesia