Bryan Thomas Knights to Frederick Chesson, 9 December 1885
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C139 – 270
Author(s): Bryan Thomas Knights
Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson
Sent from: Cape Colony
Date: 9 December 1885
Standard Bank Chambers
9th December 1885
My dear Sir,
By this mail I send (as far as can be ascertained) reports of the late fight between [Mamusa’s?] tribe and the Boers. The affair seems to have been a complete massacre, and you will observe that women and children were not spared (if reports are true). It is very suggestive of the indifference shown to the fate of these poor creatures, that [Cunningham’s?] force on the Dutch… side made no effort to interfere.
Several Englishmen were with the Boers, but the reason of this is that being resident in the Transvaal they were ‘commandeered’, made to go, and of course refusal means fine and imprisonment. You will also observe the huge amount of booty in the shape of cattle taken by the Boers. No doubt in the usual course of events all this will be denied or explained away, and we shall be told that [Mamusa?] was a rebel and that he refused to pay taxes and that he killed … they who wanted him to sign a paper. This last one is not surprised at. Kafirs who can not read or write are asked to sign or make a mark to some document, and afterwards it turns out to be a cession of their lands to the Boers. … for instance [Montsoui?] who … with death because he would not sign.
As for the taxes, which are paid in cattle, these always afford an excuse for … those too lazy to rear their own cattle, and as for being rebels, who made [Mamusa?] a Transvaal subject? The tribe molested no one and lived quietly enough, but the Transvaal although nearly as large I believe France is yet to … for the few Boers who inhabit it and so they must turn out and slaughter those who are nearby better and more useful people than themselves. Moreover the natives are not allowed either by the Cape or other governments to buy ammunition to defend themselves and of course every fight has the same ending. They are plenty enough and if they had fair play could hold their own.
The High Commissioner is too much influenced by the Cape Govt and the office should I think be separated.
You ask me in your letter of the 1st October for regulations affecting Colonial Labourers at diamond field (I must apologize for not replaying earlier). The native in the Cape Colony has equal rights politically and … with the white man, and certainly in the law courts no distinction is made. This applies also to the D. Fields and no regulation would be consistent with law or of [price?], which did not … this.
There are particular laws very strict and stringent against theft of diamonds but these apply equally to all white and black, also the searching laws. Native labourers near a … when in the mines, altogether the native is well-paid and [housed?] and not ill treated, but he gets robbed right and left when going home and passing through the Transvaal with his savings.
Any further information I shall be glad to send. Some watch ought to be kept on the Cape Legislation which evinces a disposition to legislate overmuch for the native who really only needs to be let alone.