Harold Stephens to Frederick Chesson, 22 August 1883

Harold Stephens to Frederick Chesson, 22 August 1883

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C148 – 75

Author(s): Harold Stephens

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: Cape Colony

Date: 22 August 1883


South Africa

Augt 22/83


My dear Sir,


Doubtless you will have heard long ere this that Mapoch or rather Mapoch’s son Niabel has been taken by the Boers. You must understand that the original Mapoch has been dead some years but his son Niabel is the present Mapoch.


I haven’t time to write you more than a few lines but I wish to let you know that Mapoch as we call him was taken by treachery. You must know that Mapoch several times sent messengers to treat for peace with General Joubert, but Joubert’s answer was that he would not treat unless Mapoch came in person.


Mapoch refused to come for a long time saying that he could not trust the Boers. At last under a flag of truce he came into the Boer camp to arrange terms of peace but while there saw some of his huts burning (doubtless set on fire by the Boers) and said he must go and see what was the cause of it. When he attempted to leave however he was seized and told he was a prisoner. Mapoch was furious at this treachery but was of course unable to do anything and being alone and unarmed unable to resist.


He is to be tried at Pretoria for rebellion, altho how he can be a rebel no one can understand as he has never acknowledged by allegiance to the Boers and altho surrounded by Transvaal territory is the chief of a tribe who up to the present have been independent.


His old men and women have been taken as prisoners in Pretoria, many of them dying of starvation on the road, and all to be apprenticed to Boer families for 5 years.


Two thousand of his fighting men under his brother are still unsubdued however so that the victory, if victory it can be called, is a very poor one.


I trust you will make known these facts, and please bear in mind that what has come out is not likely to be all the villany which has been perpetuated. Only by interviewing the natives would it be possible to know the whole truth!


The Boers are keeping everything as dark as possible as to their misdeeds, and they will take care that poor Mapoch’s mouth is closed. 


In haste,

Faithfully yours,

H Stephens