Harold Stephens to Frederick Chesson, 8 December 1885, C148/83

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Stephens, Harold








Cape Colony

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Bodleian Libraries

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C148-83


Knights and Hearle
Attorneys, Notaries, and Conveyancers

Standard Bank Chambers
Kimberley, Decb 8th 1885
South Africa

F.W. Chesson Esq
3 Broadway Chambers
Westminster, London

Dear Sir,

I have not written to you for some time for the simple reason that Col Warren being in the country and things with regard to the native going fairly straight I did not care to trouble you unnecessarily, more especially as my friend Mr Knight was in correspondence with you.

The enclosed account of a fight (or rather massacre) at [Immusa?] however is sufficient excuse for my doing so again. You are aware that [Malsonn?] was the instrument in the hands of the Boers for carrying on the war against Mankoroane and was so completely in their hands that he ultimately had no option in the matter and indeed was forced to sign all sorts of documents of the contents of which he was ignorant under the penalty of death. The Boers, more especially Commandant Joubert, having no further use for him commenced old tactics and under the … of demanding taxes sought to rob him of everything he possessed and he unable to comply gave them the opportunity they wanted for robbery and murder and the newspaper account enclosed can be relied on as giving the truth. That is to say is not exaggerating the Boer atrocities for it must be borne in mind it is not a native account and has come more or less thru Boer sources. Had we an account from the native side I feel sure from past experience that the conduct of the Boers would show up in even a less favourable light than is here depicted. Among the Boers there were a number of Englishmen fighting but it is only fair to them to say that they were commandeered or forced to go according to the law of the country. The natives if only properly armed and in anything like equal numbers would be more than able to hold their own against the Boers but unhappily there seems as it were a conspiracy against them and the truth is seldom allowed to appear.

We have however at last, I’m happy to say, a man who will speak the truth about this affair as far as he knows it without fear or favour. I refer to Mr Shippard the administrator of Bechuanaland who I believe, looking to some of his judgements when on the Bench, is a true friend of the unfortunate natives.

I sincerely trust that the government (English) will take some steps towards an enquiry into this wicked and bloody butchery, which is a disgrace to the white inhabitants of S Africa and to civilization (so called) in general.

Happily there are those at home who are able to give a true account of what has transpired in Bechuanaland during the last few years which was not the case when I first communicated with you in 1881.

Enclosures similar to this one have been sent to a number of people in England but what effect it will have remains to be seen.

In haste,
Yours faithfully,
H Stephens


I daresay this news will be anticipated by telegraph but sent it in case it should not be.