Wednesday, December 14, 2011



Amanda Selebi - Zululand Chronicle

6 February 1838 12:00

Notorious Boere Mercenary Soldier leader Piet Retief, of the Boere KZN Kommando, comprising of his whole Brigade, after having repossessed cattle from Chief SEKONYELA, for Zula King Dingane, were savagely slaughtered today.

The incident happened at the hill at KwaMatiwane, where the Boere were slaughtered liked sheep while the Zulu Impi were drinking Scotch Whiskey.

It is alleged that Retief and his Boere countrymen wanted to buy land off the Zulu Nation at reduced prices. Dingane negotiated the deal on Real Estate and drew up the ‘offer to purchase!’

Retief and his men in turn had to repossess cattle stolen by Sekonyela, which he did.

According to Dingane’s spokesman, Themba Cwele, Retief had kept some of the repossessed cattle for himself.

Retief was invited to a local Zulu Shebeen at the Royal Village Ngungunhlovu, where the deal would be clinched. A braai and strip were organised for the Merchant Soldiers. The Boere were ordered to leave their weapons and horses at the front door. The premises being a “GUN FREE ZONE!”

After a dispute about the price of the Lap Dancers and Twala, the Boere were rounded up, taken to KwaTiwane hills and killed execution style.

No arrested made and no witnesses found on the slaughter scene.

Police investigations continue.

Names: Retief, Piet

Born: 12 November 1780, Wagenmakersvallei, (now Wellington), Cape Province

Died: 6 February 1838, kwaMatiwane, Natal

In summary: Voortrekker leader

Piet Retief was born on 12 November 1780 in the Wagenmakersvallei, known as Wellington today, and was the fifth of 10 children of Jacobus and Debora Retief. His ancestors were from Provence in France. His father was a farmer and Piet Retief lived with him until he was 27, after which he left the farm. He settled in Stellenbosch and tried his hand at a number of businesses such as working as a clerk in a store, prospecting for land, building and the liquor trade. His liquor license was not renewed because Colonel Thomas Willshire complained that his soldiers were always drunk because of Retief's alcohol license. Most of his businesses were never really successful. He was constantly involved in lawsuits and financial difficulties.

In 1814 Retief married a widow, Magdalene Johanna (Lenie) Greyling, and adopted three sons and two daughters. He was an educated man and because of his involvement in various commandos he gained good leadership qualities. His letters indicate that he was a refined and intelligent person and he was known for his honesty, moral integrity and benevolence. These factors made him a good candidate for leadership in the Voortrekker community. He was also known for his restless nature and energy.

Retief bought a farm near the Koega River and eventually moved to Grahamstown, where he made his fortune. He lost his money in a bad business decision and was forced to return to farming near the Great Winterberg.<>

During this time the Cape became a British colony. Great Britain began to introduce a series of reforms that angered many Boers. The Anglican Church became the official church of the Cape Colony, and with it came the English language and legal practices and norms.<>

Reforms that deeply affected many Afrikaners were laws prohibiting the slave trade and later, the abolition of slavery at the Cape. Moreover, compensation given for the loss of slaves was very little and should they wish to lodge a complaint, they were expected to do so in London. This meant that many Dutch farmers at the Cape lost a great deal of their wealth and Retief provided the Voortrekkers with leadership in this period. He mediated between the Afrikaner farmers and the British government, and when talks failed, helped to organise the migration of farmers to the north of the country, which eventually became known as the Great Trek.

He imagined a place where there would be "prospects for peace and happiness for their children" and "with resoluteness, the principle of true freedom will be esteemed" and a government with "proper laws," based upon the fundamental concept of "righteousness." He published a manifesto to this effect on 22 January 1837 in the Grahamstown Journal, which functioned as a declaration of independence for the Voortrekker farmers. He also became a leader of a group of Voortrekker group that later followed other Voortrekkers who had already decided to leave the Cape Colony in search of a better place far away from British control.

In 1837 his group arrived in Thaba Nchu and there it combined with a group of 300 Voortrekkers that had arrived in Thaba Nchu earlier. They considered Piet Retief to be their leader and elected him their governor. Thaba Nchu did not become a final settlement for the Voortrekkers. Piet Retief led his group across the Drakensberg mountain range in the hope of settling in a more fertile Zululand. This area was under the kingship of Dingaan, Shaka Zulu's half brother. Using the missionary Francis Owen, Piet Retief sent a letter to Dingaan telling him that he wished to live in peace with the Zulu people. In the same letter he pointed to the Voortrekker defeat of King Mzilikazi as a tactic to threaten King Dingaan and prevent him from attacking the Voortrekkers.

Dingaan tested the military capability of Retief's men by asking them to retrieve his cattle from Chief Sekonyela. He promised them that if they succeeded he would give them land to live on. Their success made Dingaan aware that an outright battle with the Voortrekkers wuold not lead to Zulu victory. Dingaan was also suspicious that the Voortrekkers were planning to ambush him. One night Piet Retief's men were seen moving closer to the inkandla, a Zulu royal homestead.

These events, together with Retief messages that bad kings do not rule forever, was seen as sufficient proof that Retief was planning an attack against Dingaan. As a result, Dingaan conceived a plot to kill all of them. Piet Retief and his men where invited to a party to celebrate the return of King Dingaan's cattle. They were requested not to bring their weapons to the king's kraal. On 6 February 1838, once they were all inside the kraal they were killed.


•Encyclopedia of World Biography on Pieter Retief [online] Thomson Gale [accessed 17 September 2009]