W.C. Brannan to Frederick Chesson, 5 March 1883, C126/110

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Brannan, W.C.






Cape Town


Cape Colony

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C126-110


143 Long Street
Cape Town
March 5/83

F.W. Chesson Esq
Aborigines Protection Society
17 King William Street
Charing Cross London


In January of last year I went from Martizburg in Natal to Zeerust the border town of the Marico district in the Transvaal and was in that place during the marauding expedition made upon the Chief Ikalafayane by the Transvaal Government with a commando of several hundred men, under the orders of General Piet Joubert and Colonel Ferreira who were supplied with several pieces of small artillery, a commissariat force, and munitions of war. I was in Zeerust on the arrival of this force which had been raised in different parts of the Transvaal and remained there until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The chief Ikalafayane resides in a very fertile part of the Marico district only a few miles from the town of Zeerust, and was previous to the attack upon him by the Boers highly prosperous and wealthy, owning herds of cattle sheep, goats etc., and he and his predecessors had been surrounded for over forty years by a contented race of the Barratsies at present under the rule of the paramount chief Ikalafayane who had been placed over them by the British Government.

In the early part of last year this chief apprehending intestine troubles consequent upon the war between Moshette and Montsioa, and of Massowu and Gassibone, against Mankorane and Mathlabain, caused come schanses to be erected at his kraal, these schanses were merely rude circular heaps of stones of primitive construction and by no means of a very warlike character. Upon the arrival of General Joubert and the commando, Ikalafayane was summoned to meet the general in Zeerust and upon appearing was required to destroy the defences which he had constructed. I saw the chief frequently in the town and advised him to thrown down the schances to the ground and make peace with the Boers as from information I had received I fully believed that the primary object of his assailants was to force a quarrel and take possession of his land which from its being well watered and timbered is of great value and much coveted. The demand of the Transvaal Government was then complied with and the schances were razed to the ground and in place thereof a monument of peace was erected at some distance constructed of the same stones as used in the defences. To the intense surprise of the chief and his people General Joubert then levied a fine of 3500 head of cattle valued at £24,147 and a further payment of £600 per diem until the demand was complied with. Ikalafayane stated to Colonel Ferreira that he could not resist the seizure of his stock for the amount of the fine, and a portion of the commando headed by Ferreira and the Landrost of Potchefstroom swept away in the most ruthless manner the entire of the livestock of these poor people and left them positively to starve and not only was the amount of the fine obtained but it is well known that individual members of the commando proceeded on their own account to plunder the chief and his tribe of waggons, oxen, cattle and other stock, this statement is born out in a dispatch to Lord Kimberley from Sir Hercules Robinson, Her Majesty’s Governor at the Cape dated sixth July 1882 in which he states the property stolen from Ikalafayane have never been returned, and I am assured by a reliable authority that between the authorized and unauthorized raids upon this unfortunate chief a clean sweep has been made of every thing in this country larger than a domestic fowl. A few months ago this Ikalafayane was a wealthy and prosperous man, he is now so impoverished that he is unable to pay his hut tax and has had to beg for time of the Government of the Transvaal.

And now comes almost the worst feature of this atrocity, after the raid had been made I was one day in my office as Messrs Reid and Co in Zeerust and to my surprise I found three men come into the room and asked if they might have the use of the office to hand over some money for cattle which had been taken from Ikalafayane. Leave was given them and one of the men who came down from Pretoria with Col Ferreira and who had told me immediately upon his arrival that he came down to purchase cattle which was to be taken, then opened his waistcoast and unfastened a belt which contained £8 or £900 this was counted out and paid over to the owner of the stock, he then explained that he had not sufficient cash to pay for the entire purchase which amounted to seventeen or eighteen hundred pounds, and he then tendered a cheque signed by Col Ferreira for the balance. A Mr Bosch a law agent of Potchefstroom who acted as the legal adviser of the vendor looked at the cheque and said it is signed by Col Ferreira and he then asked the vendor of the stock whose name I do not know if he was satisfied to take it and advised him that he considered it all right. A receipt was then given by the reputed owner of the cattle and the parties left the office. Now this cheque was actually signed by Col Ferreira who was second in command to General Jourbert of the expedition against Ikalafayane. Well may Sir Hercules Robinson say in the dispatch before referred to ‘such being the treatment to which native within the Transvaal are liable it certainly would be a cruelty and an injustice if we were to assent to the Batlaping and Barolong chiefs being forced to become Transvaal subjects against their will, I think therefore the boundary line laid down by the convention which is the best that can be defined should be firmly adhered to.’ It is with the view of sustaining the governors judgement that I trouble you with this statement which you have a full permission to publish in the English papers.

I much wish the British public could read the Blue Books of February and August of last year with the correspondence respecting the affairs of the Transvaal they would then see the manly way in which Sir Hercules Robinson and the British Resident the Hon G Hudson have resisted the Transvaal Government in their attempt to annex other independent tribes and it is hoped Her Majesty’s home government will never consent to any further annexment by the Boer Government.

I have the honor to remain
Your obedient Servent
W.C. Brannan