Tollie Cornelius Vermaak

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About Tollie Cornelius Vermaak

Information from Mrs A. Black, Marula.

  • Mrs Tollie Vermaak
  • 1896, or earlier, with her husband and two children, were amongst those in the Mangwe laager during the Matabele rebellion in '96

Pioneer Forts in Rhodesia 1890-1897

  • Mangwe lay at the foot of the Mangwe Pass and had since 1863, when John Lee established the farm and house which still stands one and a half miles from the fort, had been the main entry for hunters and explorers to the Matabele kingdom.
  • From the outbreak of the rebellion, 150 men, women and children, both British and Afrikaner, formed laager and enlarged and improved the fort built by the Southern Column in 1893.
  • The 52 men formed the Mangwe Field Force under Commandant Cornelius van Rooyen.
  • The Civil Authority and Native Commissioner was a very young and overbearing nineteen-year-old, Major B. W. Armstrong.
  • Women and children slept in the central stone circular enclosure roofed with pole and dagga, on which roof the men slept, protected by a sandbag parapet.
  • This building had previously been used as a grain store and was badly infested with rats.
  • Animals were stabled within the circular outer walls and fifty yards outside the walls a laager of wagons encircled the fort to give some relief from what must have been cramped conditions.
  • The discomfort, anxiety and resulting tensions of the laager made life difficult, increased by the clash of temperaments and the friction between the Afrikaners and the British, for the Jameson Raid had taken place only three months before.
  • Immediately after the laager was formed Selous led a patrol to investigate rumours that "in the Mangwe laager order and discipline were conspicuous by their absence".
  • He returned however, with praise for Armstrong and van Rooyen, having found the laager "in excellent order"