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Slagtersnek Rebellie/Rebellion 15 Dec 1815

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  • Gerrit Pieter Bezuidenhout, b4c6d7e3 (1803 - 1871)
    Death Notice : "South Africa, Cape Province, Probate Records of the Master of the High Court, 1834-1989," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 September 2017), 007844945 > image 948 of 2137; Piete...
  • Pieter Lourens Erasmus (bef.1791 - 1854)
    "Hy is een van die 1815 rebelle. Volgens Heese p.137 was hy aanvanklik tot een jaar verbanning en dwang arbeid op Robbeneiland gevonnis, maar dit is deur Somerset gewysig. Heese stel verder dat sy moed...
  • David Malan (1751 - 1824)
    Slagtersnek-rebel. Word ter dood veroordeel, maar die vonnis word weens hoë ouderdom versag en hy word vir twee jaar na Robbeneiland verban.
  • Anna Elizabeth Martha Bezuidenhout (bef.1776 - 1819)
    Baptism * Name Anna Elizabeth Martha Faber * Event Type Baptism * Event Date 22 Dec 1776 * Event Place Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa * Father's Name Johan Jurgen Faber * Mother's Name Mari...
  • Gerrit Coenraad Bezuidenhout (1790 - 1837)
    Anna Maria Jacoba PELSER (ook Anna Maria Jacomina PELTZER), a1b2c5d9 * 13.8.1800≈ Graaff-Reinet 25.11.1801Getuies by doop:-Johannes Diederik George GEERECatharina Elisabeth CHRISTINSvan UitenhageX Graa...

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 Christiaan de Klerk (30), were sentenced to death. The remaining rebels were acquitted or banished.

The execution of these rebels is 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 1916, and unveiled 100 years after the event.


Giliomee, H. & Mbengwa, B. (eds) (2007) The Slagtersnek Rebellion in Die Nuwe Geskiedenis van Suid Afrika. [online] Available: [Accessed 8 December 2009]
Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousse

Read more:

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.


The list below includes the Bezuidenhout brothers’, Freek discussed above, who’s death was seen as one of the causes of the 1815 Rebellion and Hans who participated in the rebellion.

  1. Frederik Cornelis (Freek) Bezuidenhout Shot and killed on 10 October 1815, and
  2. Johannes Jurgen (Hans) Bezuidenhout Shot and killed on 29 November 1815.

Names of accused

The list of the accused is in the original numerical order as compiled by the prosecutor, the Landdrost of Uitenhage, J.G. Cuyler, Esq., R.O, dated 19th January 1816. The list includes only the 39 of the 47 rebels that were found guilty of high treason and convicted by the Special Commission of the Circuit Court on the 20th January 1816. However, the Governor and Commander in Chief, Lord Charles Henry Somerset pardoned 26 rebels and in the end only 13 were convicted of which 5 were hanged and 8 banished. Of the rebels that were pardoned, 16 were forced to watch the execution at Van Aardt Military Post on 9 March 1816, but all further punishment remitted.

  1. Hendrik Frederik Prinsloo Hanged for high treason,
  2. Stephanus Cornelis Bothma Hanged for high treason,
  3. Cornelis Johannes Faber Hanged for high treason,
  4. Theunis Christiaan de Klerk Hanged for high treason,
  5. Abraham Carel Bothma Hanged for high treason,
  6. William Frederik Krugel To be transported out of the Colony and banished for life,
  7. Frans Marais – banished out of the Colony for life,
  8. Adrian Engelbrecht – banished out of the Colony for 7 years,
  9. Andries Meyer – banished out of the Colony for 7 years,
  10. Andries Hendrik Klopper Jacobus’ son – forced to witness the execution,
  11. Nicolaas Balthazar Prinsloo, Marthinus’ son Banished for life from the Districts of Graaff Reinet, Uitenhage and George. (He took part in the Great Trek and was murdered with the van Rensburg trek party at Djindispruit, Limpopo River, Mozambique at the end of July 1836),
  12. Martha Faber, Widow of the late Johannes Bezuidenhout Banished with her family from the District of Graaff Reinet,
  13. David Malan Banished for life from the Districts of Graaff Reinet, Uitenhage and George,
  14. Hendrik Petrus Klopper, Hendrik’s son – forced witness the execution,
  15. Johannes Bronkhorst – forced to witness the execution,
  16. Thomas Andries Dreyer – forced witness the execution,
  17. Petrus Lourens Erasmus, Lourens’ son Forced to witness the execution,
  18. Hendrik Andries Gustavus van der Nest – forced to witness the execution,
  19. Pieter Willemse Prinsloo, Nicolaas’ son – banished for life from the Districts of Graaff Reinet, Uitenhage and George,
  20. Andries van Dyk –– pardoned,
  21. Willem Jacobus Prinsloo, Willem’s son Forced to witness the execution,
  22. Johannes Prinsloo, Marthinus’ son Forced to witness the execution,
  23. Cornelis van der Nest – forced to witness the execution,
  24. Philip Rudolp Botha, Christoffel’s son – forced to witness the execution,
  25. Christoffel Rudolph Botha, Christoffel’s son – pardoned,
  26. Abraham Lodivicus Botha, Christoffel’s son – pardoned,
  27. Pieter Jacobus Delport – pardoned,
  28. Jacobus Marthinus Klopper, Jacobus’ son – forced to witness the execution,
  29. Johan Theunis Muller – pardoned,
  30. Hendrik Johannes Liebenberg – pardoned,
  31. Johannes Frederik Botha, Christoffel’s son – forced to witness the execution,
  32. Joachim Johannes Prinsloo b3c3d6e1, Joachim’s son Forced to witness the execution (He took part in the Great Trek and was murdered by Zulu impi during the Bloukransrivier (Wenen) massacre),
  33. Willem Adriaan Nel – forced to witness the execution,
  34. Adriaan Labuschagne – pardoned,
  35. Leendert Labuschagne – pardoned,
  36. Barend de Lange – pardoned,
  37. Frans Johannes van Dyk – forced to witness the execution,
  38. Gerrit Coenraad Bezuidenhout, Frederik’s son Pardoned, and
  39. Klaas Prinsloo, Willem’s son – forced to witness the execution.

Source: Leibrandt, HCV, 1902. The rebellion of 1815, commonly known as Slachtersnek, a complete selection of all the papers connected with the trial of the accused; with many important Annexures, Cape Town, 1902.

Note: Names and surnames were changed, where necessary to match the current accepted spellings i.e. Prinsloo vs Prinsloo, van Dijk vs van Dyk etc,

Four of the nooses broke during the procedure and the still living convicts, together with many spectators, pleaded for their lives, but the executioner ordered them to be hanged a second time.

The rebellion and the consequent executions of the rebels have acquired special significance among contemporary South African historians as the beginning of an Afrikaner struggle against British colonial rule.

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