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Natalia 23/24 (1993/1994) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010

· ,


Journal of the Natal Society

No.23 and No. 24 December 1993 and December 1994

Published by Natal Society Library

P. O. Box 415, Pietermaritzburg 3200, South Africa

SA rSSN 0085-3674

Cover Picture
Setting out from occupie d France. U-504,
the first German submarine to strike off Natal on 31 October
(Herzog: V-boats in Action)

TvpeSef by the Vlliversi!1' 0/ Natal Press

Prillted I>." The Natal Witlless Printilll: illld Publishinl : Company

(Pty) Lld



NATAL SOCIETY LECTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Brenda Gourley 7

Piet Rogg's Reminiscences
Pat Merrett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Game conservation in Zululand 1824-1947:
changing perspectives
Beverley El/is. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Lake St Lucia and the Eastern Shores:
the role of the Natal Parks Board in the
Environmental Impact Report
Bill Bainbridge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Of mountains and money: Bergwatch and the
threats to the Drakensberg
Jon White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Gandhi's Natal: the state of the Colony in 1893
Bill Guest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
U-Boats off Natal: the local ocean war,


Bill BizLey 76

Anthony and Maggie Barker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Derek Milton Leigh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Anthony S. Mathews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 103
Robert 'Treeman' Mazibuko . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Alexander John Milne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . :. 107
Qumbu Mag(jubu Ntombela . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Nancy Ogilvie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
Enos Z. Sikhakhane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
Vryhof 'Roffy' van der Roven . . . . . . . . . . . .. 114


Moray Comrie and John Deane 116
BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128


NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144


At the end of this year of enormous social and political change and, during the
pre-election period, great tension and violence, we hope that the appearance of
this double edition of Natalia may be seen as a mark of the return of normality
and as a small celebration of the advent of democracy in South Africa.
It was the intention of the editorial committee that Natalia 23 should appear
as a special environmental edition at the end of 1993. To this end we requested
articles on the controversy over the proposals for dune mining on the eastern
shores of Lake St Lucia, and also intended to publish the findings of the
Review Panel chaired by Mr Justice Ramon Leon. The year, however, drew to
a close before finality was reached on the St Lucia issue and it was decided to
postpone the publication of Natalia to enable the conclusion to be presented to
our readers. When Judge Leon' s panel finally released its findings, it
recommended that the mining of the dunes on the eastern shores of the lake
should not be permitted and that the nature conservation option should be
followed. There was, however, an important caveat. The Review Panel
recognised, possibly for the first time in South African history, although this
precedent has been rapidly followed in other instances, that the rights of the
original inhabitants of the eastern shores evicted during the 1950s so that state
forestry plantations could be established, need special attention. This intro­
duced an important new dimension into the debate which has not yet been fully
resolved. The delays in 1993 mean that it is the Government of National Unity
which must now decide on the findings of the Review Panel, an altogether
more satisfactory situation than having the previous government decide.
This has affected Natalia in two ways. In the first place the publication of
Natalia 23 was delayed for so long that it was decided to produce a double
edition at the end of 1994. The editorial committee trusts that the reasons for
the delay are acceptable to our readership and apologises for any incon­
venience that may have been caused. In the second place, one of the main
protagonists in the dune mining dispute, Richards Bay Minerals, decided, after
the Review Panel had released its findings, that it was no longer appropriate for
its staff to enter into public debate on this issue on behalf of the company. We
respect this decision, but decided to continue with the publication of an article
by Bill Bainbridge outlining the position of the Natal Parks Board on the issue.
We regret that the opposing position could not be provided, in the interests of a
balanced overview.
Natalia 23 and 24 contains a mixture of environmental and other offerings,
many focusing on changes in our society and province. We publish the 1994
Natal Society Lecture by Professor Brenda Gourley, Principal and Vice
Chancellor of the University of Natal, on changes in tertiary education and
their effect on the University of Natal. The 1993 lecture was given by John
Bradley of the Pietermaritzburg Planning Department, on changes in the


urban environment. As it was a presentation which depended to a large extent

on screened visual material, it has not been possible to reproduce it in
published form. The unpublished piece, edited by Pat Merrett, from Piet
Hogg's reminiscences, in the well-known collection of colonial histories
compiled by Christopher Bird, continues the environmental focus as it is aJi
account of hunting trips to the St Lucia area in the mid-nineteenth century. An
article by Beverley Ellis explores the development of nature conservation in
Zululand from its beginnings to 1947, when the Natal Parks Board was
established. We then offer Bill Bainbridge's article on the role of the Natal
Parks Board in the dispute over the St Lucia dune mining. The environmental
section concludes with Jon White's article on threats of inappropriate develop­
ment to the other environmental treasure of the province, the Drakensberg
range, and on the activities of the monitoring group Bergwatch.
Bill Guest presents a commemorative article on Natal in 1893, the year
Mohandas Gandhi was evicted from the train at Pietermaritzburg station in a
racial incident which sparked off his remarkable career of non-violent protest,
but also the year that white Natal settlers received responsible government
from Britain. Our fifth article is also appropriately timed, given the interest in
the fiftieth anniversary of the Normandy landings that liberated Europe from
the Nazi occupation. Bill Bizley offers an account of the neglected topic of
submarine warfare off the Natal coast during the Second World War. The last
blows in this naval campaign were also struck fifty years ago.
Natalia 23 and 24 also, regrettably, contains an unprecedented number of
obituaries of prominent persons in the province. We note with sadness the passing
of Magqubu Ntombela and Robert 'Treeman' Mazibuko, two great environmen­
talists, 'Hoffie' van der Hoven, Tony Mathews, academic and human rights
lawyer, Alexander John Milne, former judge president of Natal, Dick Leigh, a
well known artist, the Revd Enos Sikhakhane, founder of the Edendale Lay
Ecumenical Centre, Charles and Maggie Barker, pioneering medical missionaries
in Zululand, and Nancy Ogilvie, a pillar of Pietermaritzburg society. The Notes
and Queries section contains a range of snippets, from historic buildings to
apartheid exhibitions with a brief excursion into marine biology, which we hope
will appeal to readers. As this is a double edition, there is an extensive section of
book reviews, which is also an indication of the vigour of scholarship in and about
our region, despite the economic climate and the problems of transformation. The
usual list of select publications on Natal is appended.
The foreboding with which we entered 1994 has been replaced with a sense of
relief at the success of the elections, of joy at the attainment of democracy and at
our return to the international community, including the Commonwealth, once so
dear to many Natalians. Huge changes still confront us, particularly in the local
government sphere, but other small changes are still noteworthy. The Natal
Society Council has also been enlarged to reflect the library's role in providing
information services to the Greater Pietermaritzburg metropolitan region and we
welcome the appointment of Andrew Kaniki, Hitler Mbambo and Thulisile
Radebe as new members, together with that of John Conyngham, who replaces the
late Gordon Anderson.
The editor would like to record his thanks to the members of the editorial
committee who took on extra work to enable him to concentrate on his thesis on
Fort Napier, particularly John Deane, who has acted as co-editor and provided
essential support at a crucial stage in the production of the journal.
The Natal Societv Annual Lecture
Wednesday, 19 October 1994

Issues in Tertiary Education

The issues in tertiary education are multiple and indeed, some of them are no
different to the ones in other educational institutions. They affect KwaZulu­
Natal as they do all the other provinces, but perhaps we feel the urgency for
their resolution more keenly in this province because we are so painfully aware
of the proportionally larger backlogs to be addressed. I shall spend a small
amount of time outlining the more obvious ones, and then move on to describe
the less obvious issues which are considerably more complex and difficult to

Financial sustainability
All institutions in the tertiary sector are finding it impossible to run their
operations with the funding presently available to them. The most pressing
concern is the number of students who are totally without financial support. In
any system where education is not free, this is a problem. In South Africa,
trying to overcome a history of deprivation, it is exacerbated. We have to find a
way of funding students. Individual universities and other institutions cannot
possibly solve the problem of so-called 'financial exclusion' on their own. The
establishment of an adequate national student loan fund is probably one of the
single most significant actions to promote access and avoid financial disaster
and major disenchantment in individual institutions. We should be lobbying
wherever it is possible for us to do so, to make sure it is established as quickly
as possible. This is not as difficult as it would first appear. The Tertiary
Education Fund of South Africa (TEFSA) set up by the Independent Develop­
ment Trust is operating effectively and has in place all the necessary
procedures as well as staff trained in their administration. It simply means that
more funds need to be given to it, and there are several overseas agencies ready
to do this. The issue then will be whether the amounts available will be large
enough to solve the problem, and if they are not, how priorities are to be
It follows therefore that it is not helpful to support moratoriums either on fee
increases or on so-called 'financial exclusions'. Fee increases are forced on
universities which wish to avoid deficit budgeting. Where there is no sanction
at all on students who do not pay their fees, there is no incentive whatever to
pay. This applies even to those who have bursary or loan support. In the face of
inflation and in the absence of an educational system which is free, there is no
way that a blanket moratorium on fee increases and 'financial exclusions' is

Natalia 23 and 24 (1993/94), H. Gourley pp. 7-14

8 Issues in Tertiary Education

Improving access includes a whole range of possibilities. We need to rely even
less on the matric results as an indication of potential, and concentrate on the
whole range of alternative selection programmes. We know that a lot of
research has been done in this area and it is time we stood back from our pet
projects and do some evaluation. We cannot afford for resources to be used in
isolation, we need to recognise that we share this problem and we should share
our successes in this field. If fierce competitors like IBM and Apple can
embark on joint ventures, then I think we can as well. I must add that
improving access should include recognition of life exerience, a recognition
which is given in many reputable institutions in other parts of the world.
We also need to use the resources we have more fully: this will mean more
part-time classes, more short courses, summer and winter schools with
credit-earning courses, possibly a third semester, more adult education, and
perhaps most important of all, more distance education. All these help to
increase access in an emergency situation, speed up the educational process,
contribute to the concept of lifelong learning, and assist in re-training and
re-education. They also have the additional bonus of maximising the use of
resources, both physical and human.
Again, we are fortunate that we do not have to 'rein vent the wheel'. Many
countries have battled with this problem of access and formulated some very
successful models. In the Netherlands, for example, there is an open distance
learning university which operates with 200 staff members and has 60 000
students. The preparation of material is contracted out to some of the best
academics in the world and the quality of the learning is acknowledged as very
good indeed. There are other examples of countries with problems not too
different to our own, and we should not be persuaded that we are so unique that
there is no model in the world that will fit our circumstances well enough.
There are other matters which will assist. For example, we need more
flexible degree structures so that students can move in and out of the system as
their finances allow. We need an education system which promotes mobility
from one institution to another and where there is a system which works to
form bridges for students from one institution to another, even from one level
of institution to another, that is, from technikons to universities and vice
In this context, I am reminded of an action (what I would call an 'affirmative
action') taken by the University of the Witwatersrand after the Second World
War. They made all sorts of accommodations for returning soldiers. They
perceived a crisis and they acted accordingly. Ladies and gentlemen, we too
are in crisis - a crisis of quite different proportions to that of the mid-forties.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and improving access
must be achieved by every way we can imagine. Our country and our people
will be immeasurably enriched in the long term by such efforts. I would even
go so far as to say that our survival as a quality system depends upon it.

The third issue, which ex ists in some people's minds, is that of standards. It is
helpful here to distinguish between entry standards and exit standards. All sorts
of flexibility has been introduced into the entry standards and this is necesssary
in the situation where we are unable to use matriculation results as a predictor,
and the comments already made about access are relevant. It is not, however, in
Issues in Tertiary Education 9

anyone's interest for exit standards to be lowered, nor ineed have I met anyone
who argues otherwise. What we must be careful about is labelling something as
a quality product just because it is part of the present system. There are many
aspects of the present system which should not be defended on grounds of
quality and should be dealt with appropriately. We cannot afford them. I shall
return to this later.

The new order, quite rightly, places a high value on democratic procedures
being used in the process of governing institutions. Business organisations
have long recognised the importance of participative management and I do not
see this as very different. The question of staffing institutions to represent the
demography of our country is part of this issue but the question of governance
goes much deeper than that. There may well be a number of black people and
women on the staff of a previously white establishment, but the question is:
have they the opportunity to make any significant difference to the decisions
which affect the life of that organisation? If they have not, then there are some
important matters which must be acknowledged. The first is that the practice of
so-called affirmative action is then cosmetic and in the end will fail, adding to
the long list of similar failures elsewhere, just another example of history
repeating itself, mankind unwilling to learn from past mistakes. The tragedy is,
of course, not just that as a country and a nation we cannot afford such
mistakes, it is also a record of personal tragedy - individuals who came in all
good faith into a system where they expected to be judged on merit and found
only prejudice and ultimately, disillusionment.
The second matter which must be acknowledged is the awful waste of skills
which could make the system so much better. There is no question that the
experience and perceptions which black people and women bring to the
organisation will vastly improve the quality of that organisation and its
governance. An institution in which all population elements work well must
include in its planning and other decision-making teams 'black colleagues who
are respected as the indispensable experts that they are. They are the only
people who have the background experience to help structure (for example)
proper affirmative action. Similarly, the experience of women is essential to an
organisation which needs to cope with the modern world.' (Margaret Legum in
Die Suid Afrikaan). Both men and women bring qualities which are essential
for today's fast-changing world where human relations are crucial to success.
The brutal truth is that the inclusion of black people and women in the decision
making structures (that is, in the governance) of the universities and other
places of higher education, will actually raise standards, not lower them - a
theory somewhat contrary to popular belief. Julian Sonn writing in Die Suid
Afrikaan maintains that 'a major part of our personal liberation will have to be
the acceptance of our African, European and Asian heritage. This process can
be facilitated by extensive discussion of cultural, world view and ethos
differences and similarities so that all these differences [and similarities] can
be recognised and understood. In fact, the process of knowing these differences
[and similarities] leads to a genuine appreciation of the contributions that alI
employees can make to enhance the effectiveness and productivity of the
organisation' .
I agree with Mala Singh when she writes that affirmative action is about
'generating large-scale educational opportunities rather than about targeting a
10 Issues in Tertiary Educatioll

select group of individuals for advancement; it is about overall democratisation

and the transformation of institutional and organisational culture rather than
including a few more individuals in decision-making ... , (it) is not only about
the implementation of a different, more equitable principle of distribution but
about how such principles are chosen, by whom and with what outcomes'. In
the end it is essentially about governance and it is why students and others talk
about such matters as questions of what they call 'transformation'.
'Less obvious issues'
I turn now to my fifth and final point ~ a point I previously labelled as
containing 'less obvious' issues. These issues are concerned with changes in
curricula ~ what we at the University of Natal have identified as a funda­
mental strategic initiative of the University and that is curriculum reform. It is
necessary to break this topic down into several parts.
It is important that tertiary educational institutions examine their program­
mes and curricula and ask themselves whether at least some of those
programmes and curricula are sufficiently focused to produce the type of
graduate who will effectively contribute to the national agenda of recon­
struction and development. I would argue that, in general, they do not.
So far, tertiary education has concentrated on producing graduates who are
destined (by and large) for the first-world sector of our economy, and the
private sector at that. I acknowledge that the demands of the corporate world
and the professions must be met and this is a necessary and worthy activity that
must continue. This is not at issue at all. However, what must be also realised
is that there is another demand which is not being met. This is from a different
market in the public, small business and informal sectors, sectors which
include non-government organisations, community-based organisations and
the like. Indeed, it is in these areas that more jobs will be generated than in the
corporate and professional world. Big business in the last decade has, in fact,
shed jobs. It is in these areas that we find the problems of a developing society
and we need to produce excellent graduates capable of addressing them and
providing informed leadership. We also need to recognise that, for the
foreseeable future at least, tertiary education institutions are the only organis­
ations which indeed have the capacity to provide the education required to
meet this need.
Addressing the problems of development and indeed the transformation of
the public sector will bring some very different and difficult realities to the
design of programmes and curricula. The first of these is what Capra describes
as 'the beginning of a fundamental change of world view in science and
society, a change as radical as the Copernican Revolution ... The more we
study the major problems of our time, the more we come to realise that they
cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic pro­
blems ~ interconnected and interdependent ... The emerging new paradigm
may be called a 'holistic' world view, seeing the world as an integrated whole
rather than a dissociated collection of parts.' The new paradigm has profound
consequences. Over the last three hundred years the curriculum has been
organised largely in terms of disciplines. This promotes the 'old paradigm', the
tendency to view the world of nature, life and work as segmented, differen­
tiated into parts. Curricula and research design need to be organised in such a
way that scholars are produced who go beyond the isolated facts, who make
connections across disciplines, who help shape a more coherent view of
knowledge and a more integrated and authentic view of life.
Issues in Tertiary Education 11

The academic world has already responded somewhat through the develop­
ment of a new range of hyphenated disciplines like bio-engineering and
psycho-linguistics and a host of others. This is becoming more and more
evident in collaborative research work across disciplines. Nowhere is this truer
than in development work like health care, economics, social, education and
housing. After all, problems in the real world are seldom so kind as to divide
themselves into disciplines. It will be the responsibility of the institutions to
create ways of fostering these connections, promoting systemic thinking and
facilitating interdisciplinary studies, and I am happy to report that the
University of Natal is doing exactly that.
Transformation is also concerned with what has been traditionally taught
and even with how the teaching process is conducted. Changing curricula is
perhaps a transformation rather easier to achieve than the others. Universities
in South Africa must confess to being, at least until fairly recently, very
Eurocentric in their approach. Examples abound. We had French and German
departments long before we had Zulu or any other African language depart­
ments. We taught English and European history long before we taught (or
researched) any African history. Architectural students were given assign­
ments that had everything to do with first-world concerns and nothing to do
with the concerns of the very people they were supposed to be serving.
It must be quite clear that we are not talking about 'standards' here. It is no
more difficult to study Jane Aust~n than Es'kia Mphahlele. Whatever the
content of the curricula, whatever process we use, indeed whatever we do, we
are obliged to do it well. What we are talking about here is the issues we
address in our unviersities and indeed how we teach. Our schooling system in
general does not encourage intellectual abstraction, lateral thinking and
analytical synthesising. This requires new teaching methods which are relevant
to the cognitive framework of the students, it requires some major adaptation
which recognises that. We also need to acknowledge that, distance education
apart, the education that goes on at any tertiary institution does not all take
place in the lecture theatre or laboratory. The cultural and sporting life, the
leisure and other facilities all add up to total experience - as indeed they do in
a school environment. If students come to university but feel alienated, do not
mix except with those other students whose background they share, the
opportunity for learning is radically reduced. Again I believe it is part of our
responsibility, part of an affirmative action, to assist in creating a more
cohesive student body which mixes socially across racial and gender divides
and maximises the opportunity that university life offers.
There is a further and very significant and dramatic change which has taken
place in education circles. It springs from an understanding of the impact of
technology on what is taught and how it is taught. John Scully, one time
chairman of Apple Computers, has called this time in history 'the turning of an
era, the start of the 21st century renaissance'. He envisages this renaissance
galvanised in much the same way as the last renaissance, that is, by
technology. This time, however, it is not the technology of printing but of
information. Computers and their capacity for simulation, inter-activeness,
artificial intelligence and the use of hypermedia, mobile cellular telephone
technology, fax machines, networks, global broadcasting, satellite-directed
television and video cassettes all combine to put information ('knowledge' in
the terms of yesteryear) in the hands of many. Educational institutions in a very
real sense have lost their strategic advantage. As Graham Hills points out 'the
interactive computer, with its compact video discs, shows itself to be a superior
12 Issues in Tertiary Education

vehicle for the transmission of facts, knowledge, ideas and, above all else,
The consequence for educational institutions is nowhere better illustrated
than by the phenomenal increase in the conference and educational video
business. People like James Martin, the information technology guru, will
charge large sums of money to speak at a conference and bring conference
participants up to date on the latest thinking in the field. He does not need a
university to provide him with an audience. He addresses global audiences (via
satellite communication) and sells video tapes of the lecture to those who
missed the satellite transmission. 'The habits of the scriptorum, essentially that
of the students writing down the words of the professor, will not survive in
competition with the more attractive methods of displaying text, equations,
diagrams, and images now readily available to anyone with a disc-driven
personal computer.' (Hills)
This is not to say there is no role for the teacher, but it is radically different.
Educational institutions which do not face up to this reality will become
redundant. They will be further impelled by the logic of the market place.
Changes, as Graham Hills points out 'offer choices in subject material, in time
frames, in spatial orientation, and in costs, all irresistible to our consumer
society. It will be for the modern university to shape the options, to package
and repackage them for a variety of purposes including its own.'
The reality now lies essentially in what is taught and, even more important,
how. The focus changes from content-dominated syllabi to process-dominated
syllabi. We know that 'it is no longer possible to teach anybody all that they
need to know for any career. There is no ration of knowledge that they can
draw on throughout their careers and even more significantly, much of what
they know will become obsolete within a relatively short period after
graduating. This means that we must prepare all students, not just professional
scholars, to embark on a lifetime of learning. Students today should master, as
part of their basic education, the skills and tools of independent enquiry that
characterises research. They must learn to work independently while also
learning that knowledge does not reside privately in individual minds, or text
books, or journals, or libraries or laboratories or data bases. Knowledge is
integrated and resides in a complex web or network that intermeshes all these
with experience.' (University of Natal, Planning Guidelines, 1993)
We also know that what Graham Hills says is true when he writes that 'every
day, hundreds (sometimes thousands) of students still cram into lecture
theatres and auditoria to copy down the words of a distant professor and regard
his activity as the main basis of their education. It is a sad reflection not only of
shortage of resources but of the slowness of the academic establishemt to
appreciate that knowledge transfer and knowledge accumulation are a less
important aspect of the student's experience than acquiring the skills of
learning, of understanding, and of presentation, none of which can be acquired
in the lecture hall.
'Learning' is the key word in the new world, dominated as it is by changes
and invention and new products being produced at a rate unprecedented in our
previous history. Peter Senge writes about 'the learning organisation' making
the point that change is so rapid and is such a key feature of modern life that
unless an organisation consciously constitutes itself as a learning organisation
it is consigning itself to Jurassic Park. Tom Peters says there are only two kinds
of managers: the quick and the dead. He advises employers to employ only the
curious (and it is no accident that word is inextricably linked with learning),
Issues in Tertiary Education 13

the zestful and the creative. he advises would-be employees to louk for
customers not bosses and points to many highly successful products or services
that started in just that way (like the Apple computer that was first made in
somebody's garage). All these things have a very big impact on what we teach
our students, or rather what we require them to learn. All these things inform
the curriculum reform project which is a major strategic initiative at the
University of Natal.
This brings me to my next point. Some institutions have excellent research
capacity. There is no question that the use of that capacity can contribute very
substantially to the achievement of pressing national objectives. The research
capabilities of some universities can play an important part in solving the
pressing problems of the communities which we are bound to serve. Indeed, it
is my contention that to ignore such problems would not not only an ethical
failure, it would be an intellectual failure as well.
There are a host of policy issues that are going to require the skills and
expertise of our academics to research and assist. If universities do not put a
high priority on these activities, (not to the total exclusion of others, but
nevertheless a high priority) they can hardly, I submit, be truly serving the
community which su~lains them and which finds itself in the crisis we all
rcognise as being of substamial proportions. We are also bound, I believe, to
address ourselves to building research capacity in our regions and embarking
on, and actively encouraging, collaborative and other projects to facilitate

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I believe it is true to say that the issues we
face mean that the management of tertiary institutions will have to 'manage
change' on a scale unprecedented in our history - but in the end it is
individual people who make things happen. Individuals will have to realise that
each and everyone can make a difference. As individuals, and especially as
individuals interested in tertiary education we need to ask ourselves what
actions (actions that I would classify as affirmative actions in some cases) are
we, as individuals, capable of implementing? Everyone of us here this evening
is capable of contributing to our efforts in this regard - whether it be acting as
mentors, facilitators, donors, agents of change, teachers at every level
(including explaining in whatever circles you mix, the issues which cloud
understanding and become obstacles to change). As individuals, we are
positively responsible for working towards the collective goal. Institutional
effort will only work with individuals' effort - individuals who together
make up the stakeholders in the future of tertiary education. We are truly in a
race between education and disaster, ladies and gentlemen. This is not a time
for hesitancy, it is a time for action. It is not a time for negativism, it is a time
for enthusiastic and positive effort. It is not a time for competition, it is a time
for co-operation and collaboration. We are rich in knowledge, ladies and
gentlemen - let us not be poor in wisdom.
14 Issues in Tertiary Education

I. Die SuidAti"ikaan, May-June, 1993.
2. Mala Singh. Unpublished paper on Affirmative Action. University of Durban-Westville, 1993.
3. Graham Hills. Universitirs of Tomorrow. CEPES, 1994.
4. University of Natal. I'Janning Guidelines, 1994.
5. Stan Davis and Jim Botkin. 'The Cuming of Knowledge-based Business'. Harvard Business Review.
September-October, 1994.
6. Tom Peters. Crazy Times Ca/lti'r Crazy l'eo{Jle. London. Macrnillan, 1994.
Piet Hogg's remlnlscences

Piet (or Peter) Hogg's reminiscences of life in early Natal - like those of Thomas Green (published
in Natalia 22, 1992) - were solicited in 1896 by the colonial government. l Hogg was then 67 years
old and as he was illiterate and living on a farm in the Dundee area, he had to hire and accommodate a
secretary to record his memories. The manuscript is in the Bird Papers in the Natal Archives and is
very legible. There are abbreviated handwritten and typescript copies in the Killie Campbell Africana
Library, and an outline of his early career, with a photograph, appears in Barbara Buchanan', Natal
memories 2 For reasons of space, only nine pages (pp. 30-9) of the manuscript in the Natal Archives
are reproduced. These deal with various hunting trips he made or organised to the Zulu, Swazi and
Gaza kingdoms between 1851 and 1859, and besides other aspects of colonial life, they give some
idea of how destructive European and African hunters could be to the fauna north of the Thukela
Caution should be exercised when reading these early reminiscences. Hogg's memory for dates
and facts was inevitably inaccurate at times and there may be other undetected errors. In addition.
apart from being illiterate. he may well have been somewhat innumerate, as an assessment of his
hunting statistics below suggests. It is also possible that he embellished facts,3 either to inflate his
role in Natal's early history or to enhance his social status, both of which were modest. Piet Hogg
(1829-1902) came from humble stock. He was born in Worcester, Cape Colony to John Hogg, a
Scottish artisan immigrant, and Susanna Wilhelmina Odendaal 4 from Swellendam. This mixed
background influenced Hogg's life in various ways for it created in him divided loyalties which were
to have grave consequences for him at the end of his life 5
After Hogg's mother died, his father John went on a number of adventurous British-sponsored
expeditions, one of which involved the rescue of the survivors of the Louis Trichardt trekker
expedition from Delagoa Bay on the Mazeppa in I R39(' (One such survivor. Mrs Johanna Kok was to
have a daughter, Anna Susanna, who became Hogg's second wife in 1879). John Hogg then settled in
Port Natal and sent for Pi et who joined him in late 1840. Hogg devoted five pages to a description of
the dramatic British-Boer engagement in 1842 during his thirteenth year: his father was imprisoned
by the Boers along with G. C. Cato, S. Beningfield and H. Ogle (all of whom feature in the extract
below), while Piet claimed that he assisted Dick King to swim his horses across the Bay at the start of
his famous ride 7
The material needs of the small, undeveloped selllement at Port Natal and its British military and
naval forces (the latter engaged in the suppression of the slave trade) created various labouring and
service occupations for the Hoggs, including woodcutting, victualling the military and naval forces
on contract for two years, and then brickmaking, also under contract, for about six years, in which
timber was probably also used. Hogg thus also played a direct rolc in the exploitation of Port Natal's
timber resources, which in turn destroyed the habitat of buck and birds. R
Like so many early colonists. Hogg took up hunting and trading. These were the main local
economic activities until at least the 1860s" as most pioneers could shoot and the profits could be
enormous: according to one source these could be about 500%.10 In the late 1840s the Hoggs formed a
'hunting company' with William Proudfoot (SOil of a Scottish landowner) and Elephant White"
although he only mentions them on two hunting excurSIOns in 1848 and 1850. Hogg hunted for only
eleven years due to frequent attacks of fever and a financial (and human) disaster on his last and most
ambitious expedition to the Gaza kingdom. but he usually hunted with from one to four white hunters
and with between 25 and 50 African hunters. The combined firepower of such groups was so
considerable that within fifty veal's Natal's major fauna was destroyed and by the 1850s elephants in
the Zulu kingdom were scarce. I:
Hogg claimed that on his first expedition. in I R4R. four Europeans and about 33 Africans bagged

Nata/ia 23 and 24 (1993/94) P. Menett !cd.). pp. 15-26

16 Piet Hogg's Reminiscences

over 3 OOOlbs of ivory (elephant and hippopotamus), that on a trip to Swaziland in 1858 eight men
shot 95 elephants, and that the Gaza king had delivered I 000 tusks to his Portuguese agent in 1859,
Since Hogg seems to have hunted almost every year between 1848 and 1859 (excluding the
disastrous ycar of 185 I), and if these statistics are accurate, he and his companions killed a very
substantial number of elephant and hippopotamus, either directly or indirectly, in the region north of
the Thukela River. This remains true even if one feels doubtful about some of Hogg's figures, For
instance, the 95 elephants killed by eight men in 1858 he says were shot in a mere two hours; given
the difficulties and dangers of hunting elephants'] this seems a remarkable feat. His claim that these
creatures wele part of a troop of about I 500 - 2 000 also seems exaggerated; the largest herds
recorded by contemporaries seem to have been hetween 200 and 500,14
In addition, Hogg's claim that he equipped about 400 African hunters in 1859 (for an outlay of over
£2 000) and that he virtually lost £80 000 as a result of their murder by Soshangane, also seems
extravagant for that era and particularly for someone in his social class, The estimated value of all
ivory exports through Durban from north of the Thukela in 1853 was only about £3 600,15 A rough
calculation of what Hogg might have earned from his hunting reveals the following: since they
earned about four or five shillings per pound of ivory and paid their African hunters one third of the
profits, 16 on the 1848 trip the four white hunters could have earned ahout £125 each, which equalled
the lower scale of a magistrate's clerk/interpreter's annual salary in the early 1860sI 7 The 95
elephants shot in 1858 could have earned each hunter about £300 (assuming an average weight of
50lb, per tusk and onc third payment to possihle African retainers), Even if Hogg did have over
£2000 to invest in 1859, Chapman's suggestion that ivory profits of 500% were possiblel~ would
only have yielded approximately £10 000.
Whatever the true facts were, Hogg does not seem to have hecome a wealthy man. At the end of his
hunting career he moved to the Biggarsberg where he traded with the Transvaal Boer" then moved to
a farm near Grey town which he says he bought. Here his first wife died. In 1879 he transported goods
for the British during the Anglo-Zulu War, remarried and settled again near the Biggarsberg where he
kept a hotel and then retired on IJriefiJnlein farm. He had to appeal to the colonial government to pay
his expenses of hiring a secretary to record his reminiscences. I" After he was jailed for treason, his
wife had to go and live with a daughter near Grey town as their house and furniture were destroyed in
the Anglo-Boer War.'" Hogg died intestate and without property, apparently in the Salvation Army
home at 205 West Street, Pietermaritzburg on 22 August 1902 21
These reminiscences reveal many aspects of life in the pioneering phase of Natal's early history
apart from hunting, such as the physical hardships and dangers, a degree of social mixing which was
typical of colonial communities, the diplomatic customs to be followed when entering the Zulu
kingdom to hunt and when visiting Zulu royalty, the goods traded with Africans, the names and
activities of a number of fellow European colonists, and some fascinating passing references to the
Gaza kingdom, the slave trade and the Portuguese at Delagoa Bay,
The punctuation and spelling of the original manuscript have been faithfully transcribed except for
the occasional use of inverted commas round some personal and place names, If there is no note
attached to a personal name it means that the individual has not bccn identified.

I am greatly indebted to Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer for most of the biographical background to the
settlers, and to Bobby Eldridgc at Killic Campbell Africana Library for photocopies of all the Hogg


References to the original manuscript in the Natal Archives are to the most recent pagination in
square brackets.
I. Sce Natalia 22 (1992), p, J 5, for an account of this project.
2, NA, Bird Papers, A79, v,7; KCAL, Uncatalogued mss files - Peter Hogg; Natal memories
(Pietermaritzburg, Shuter and Shooter, 1941), chap, VII (The photograph is opposite p.63.
Buchanan claims to have had a nephew who knew Hogg in his Dundee days, Her account is not
entirely accurate and is not comprehensive).
3. I am indebted to Shelagh Spencer for this suggestion.
4, See Hogg's first death notice, 12.9.1902, for his mother's name, in NA, MSCE, 141114. John
Hogg died in Pietennaritzburg in October 1850.
Pief Hogg's Reminiscences 17

5. His wives were Dutch and his children had mixed English and Dutch names. In his
reminiscences he confessed his lifelong loyalty to the British government (p. 14) and his death
certificate listed him as of 'Scotch' nationality, but during the Anglo-Boer War, he and a son
were charged with treason. Hogg was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in 1900 at the
age of 71 years. See NA, CSO, v. 1683, 1"0117002, Anna Susanna Hogg to Colonial Secretary.
8.8.1901; and AGO, v. 1/8/84, 20lAI1902 Minute Paper, 24.1.1902, re Rex vs Jan Peter Hogg
and others in the Special Court, Dundee.
6. For the Trichardt party sec The OX/IITd History of South Africa v. I, ed. by M. Wilson and
L. Thompson, (Clarendon Press, 1969), pp. 410-1.
7. See E. H. Brookes and C. de B. Wehh A history of Natal (Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal
Press), 1965, pp. 38-9 for a description of these events.
8. See B.ElIis 'The impact of white settlers on the natural environment of Natal, 1845-1870' in
B. Guest and J. M. Sellers (eds) Enterprise and exploitation in a Victorian colony (Pieter­
maritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1985), p.74 (on brick-making) and p.92.
9. See R. B. Struthers Hunting journal 1852-1856 in the Zulu Kingdom and nonga regions ed. by
P. L. Merrett and R. Butcher, (Durban, Killie Campbell Africana Lihrary, 1991), pp. (24)-(26)
for an analysis of hunting and trading in Natal's early economy.
10. See J. Chapman Travels in the interior of South Africa v.l, London, Bell, 1868, p. 195 where he
says that for goods worth £200, traders eould make a profit of £ I 000 from ivory from the Lake
Ngami region in the 1850s.
11. Hogg said that Elephant White was given that name by the Africans due to his size and strength,
that he was a popular figure and that he finally went to the Australian goldfields (p. 29). White
is also mentioned on two other hunting trips in 1852: see w.e. Baldwin Africall hUIlting and
adventure (Cape Town, Struik, 1967) (repr. of 1894 ed.), chapter I, and G.c. Cato to
R.J. Garden, 17.10.52, in NA, Garden Papers, A1157, V.I.
12. See Struthers Hunting journal, pp.(28)-(3I).
13. See, for example, Baldwin African hunting and adventure, pp. 368-9 and Struthers, pp. 57,
69-70,80-1,86-7. George Shadwell ('two parties and a whole posse of guns') took a whole
season to shoot 91 elephants in 1853; see Baldwin, p.54.
14. For Hogg's hunting area see, for example, A. Delegorgue Travels in southern A.frica v. I,
translated by F. Webb ... (Durban, Killie Camphell Africana Lihrary, 1990), p.251 (he
estimated that in 1842 there could not have been more than 1 500 elephants between the
Thukela and the Phongolo because of the large territory they needed); and FJeming's account of
seeing 200 elephants in Swaziland in 1852 - see P. H. Butterficld 'A military Nimrod in
mid-19th century Natal' in Atrirana notes and news v.29, 6 (June 1991) p.240. For troops in
the interior, see for example Chapman Travels in the interior (~f South Africa v.l, p.26 and
W. Cornwallis Harris' sighting of about 300 elephants in 1836 near the Magaliesberg recorded
in S. D. Le Roux Pioneers "nd sportsmen o!South AfTica, 1760-1890 (Salisbury, the Author,
1939), p. 37.
15. See Ellis, 'The impact of white settlers on the environment of Natal, 1845-1870', p.87.
16. These seem to have heen paid in cattle: see pp.28 and 41.
17. See Struthers, Hunting journal. p. (27).
18. See n. 10 above.
19. See N A CSO, v. 1494, 18971134 Hogg to Colonial Secretary 4/11 1897.
20. CSO, v. 1683, 190117002, A. S. Hogg to Colonial Secretary 8/81190 I.
21. Sce Hogg's Death Notices in NA, MSCE, 141114 (September 1902).
Extracts from

Piet Hogg' s Reminiscences

... In the early part of 1851, I five gentlemen arrived from Europe, (two
Englishmen, two Scotchmen, and one Frenchman), who were desirous of
exploring the country, of drawing up charts of the same, and of hunting; they
intended to follow these pursuits for two years, and required for that period of
time the services of one, or two, men, who could speak English, Dutch & Zulu;
the name of the Frenchman was D' Elgasse, those of the remainder I have
forgotten. Mr George Cato' was their agent, and a man named William Mayas 3
and I were deputed, by Mr c., to accompany them; our engagement was for
two years, and, on returning, we were to leave them at Cape Town; we then had
the choice of coming back to Durhan by sea, or by land, at their expense. (See
Mr G. Cato's records in connection with these people).4
And now I am about to relate one of the most horrible, and thrilling,
experiences which ever befell a human being, and which might not fall to the
lot of one person in a thousand.
We started, in the beginning of March, well furnished with amunition and
provisions, with ten or twelve Kafirs, and with one or two horses; these latter
died en route of horse-sickness; we took one wagon only.­
In accordance with the wishes of these gentlemen, we made direct for the
upper end of St. Lucia Bay, (leaving our wagon and oxen some fourteen miles
on this side of our destination), and, on arrival, in the early part of April, found
that we had come too soon in the year, as the fever season (an exceptionally
severe one) had not yet passed.­
The travellers all succumbed to the deadly fever, also several of our Kafirs;
the remainder ran away, leaving William Mayas and I alone; we were attacked
as well, delirious too, at times; and one day, when the fever had somewhat
abated, I experienced the horrible reality that I was alone amongst the dead!
Mayas had left! when, and how, or whither gone I knew not then; (We met
afterwards);5 what became of the wagon & oxen, I know not; the bodies of the
dead were not buried; the delirium at times was dreadful, and, when the fever
gradually abated, I found myself more dead than alive, with the cord of my
tongue contracted. I attribute the deaths of the travellers to the fact that they
persisted in adopting their own method of medical treatment, in preference to
our more simple (although, perhaps, more nauseating) form.6
On gaining strength, I tried to make my way, by slow degrees, to the Tugela
River, having my rifle & amunition with me; I had no fear, and a sense of
perfect indifference to danger seemed to take possession of me; I was resting
one day, having, probably, covered a distance of 80 miles from camp, when I
saw a white man approaching on a pack-ox, and, though unaware of my
Piet Hogg's Reminiscences 19

presence in the neighbourhood, he was coming directly towards me; I sat quite
still; when he saw me, he was much surprised at meeting a lonely white man in
that part of the country, - and under such circumstances; we recognized each
other, and, to my joy, he was one of my boyhood's companions Hendrick
Strydom;7 neither could speak for, at first, we were choked with tears.
When we had overcome our first emotion, and were able to speak, I asked
him if he would, kindly go to Durban for my wagon; this he readily agreed to
do, and explained that he, Mr Durus Potgieter senior, Mr Henry Tafell &
Mr Coos Kruht Rhad come to that neighbourhood to hunt; that he was in front
to look out for game, a practicable road etc, and that the before-mentioned
persons were following in the wagon; it very soon came up, and I was made
comfortable, and well cared for. Hendrick Strydom started at once for Durban,
and returned, with my wagon, in about 2 weeks; we then left together, and, on
arrival, I was kindly received into his mother's house, and attended by Dr Best
of the 45th regiment.­
Under his treatment and the kind nursing & care of the Strydom family,9 I
soon recovered. When quite well, I decided to build a house on my erf of land,
and, for that purpose, procured stock bricks from a discharged soldier whose
name I have forgotten.- I also bought necessary furniture etc, and it all ended
in my marrying Mrs Strydom's eldest daughter, III who had been very kind and
attentive to me during my illness.­
The wedding ceremony was performed, in the morning, by the Revnd.
Lindley, 11 (probably the first American Missionary to come to Natal before the
arrival of the Dutch), at his Mission Station north of the Umgeni River; we
returned to Durban in the afternoon, and the wedding-supper, at 6PM, was
honoured by H.E. Governor Pine,12 who was then in authority, and who had
expressed a wish, through Mr lames Proudfoot, 13 to see a Dutch wedding; he
joined in a waltz with the bride, and appeared to enjoy himself heartily; the
other friends present were Mr Samuel Benningfield l4 and all his family, Mr
Katz l5 & wife, Messrs William & lames Proudfoot,16 lohn & Thomas Cato
(nephews of Mr George Cato),17 Dr Best (45th Regt), Capt Durnford (45th
Regt),IR and one or two other officers whose names I have forgotten; also Mr
Henry Tafell, Mr Durus Potgieter senior, Mr Comelis Vermaak,19 and many
In May 1850, I again left for a hunt, in Zululand, on a larger scale, leaving
my wife with her mother, in Durban, and with her old Kafir nurse Martha, who
dIed in the house of my wife's sister Mrs Rock. 211­
I must here pause, in order to explain a custom in vogue in those days when
visiting a native King. When arranging to hunt etc, a messenger was always
despatched, two or three days in advance, to inform the King of our approach,
of the number of our party, and of the nature of the present which we were
bringing with us.­
On reaching the King's Kraal, and delivering the message, the man stayed
there, until the arrival of the party, as a guarantee of the good faith of the
message sent.­
Upon receiving the news, the King would start off a trusty servant to the
Kraal of the chief at which the travellers would first arrive, bidding him
prepare a hearty welcome in the form of Killing a beast etc; on the party
reaching this Kraal, another messenger was sent to the King, to tell him that the
first stage in the journey had been reached, and the King's servant then went
back to the Kraal of the next chief, telling him to prepare in a similar manner;
20 Piet Hogg's Reminiscences

this operation was repeated until the party reached the last camping-place; it
was, in fact, a system of fore-runners,
On this trip, I had with me between 40 and 50 hunters, 2 wagons, and 2
pack-oxen, and the oldest son of Mr Ogle,21
When we reached the Zulu country, we made directly for King Mpanda's
Kraal, staying the first night at that of a chief named Mazeba; we then pushed
on 25 miles, and encamped at chief Umbuhlyana's Kraal, leaving here one
wagon; we had now 35 miles only to trek, which distance we soon covered.
King Mpanda 22 received us very Kindly, and was very glad to see me again; I
told him of my father's death, and that I was now a married man,­
Of course, he was anxious to see the present I had brought; and, when I told
him that one man could not carry it, but that it would require three or four, he
Kindly sent some men with me to the wagon to unload it; the gift consisted of a
large quantity of beads, picks & blankets, and the King expressed himself
highly delighted with it; the conversation afterwards became general, in
connection with the current news of that day, and we then returned to our
wagon, the King Kindly sending down a beast, at once, to be Killed for our
consumption. ­
At the end of two or three days, we returned to our other wagon, and thence
began to hunt, in the uplands, between the Black & White Umfulusi Rivers; we
followed the game to the upper part of St Lucia Bay, and returned to Durban, in
September or October, having had a successful hunt.­
I omitted saying that, on this trip, King Mpanda Kindly presented me with a
tusk of ivory weighing 95 lbs! (See Note B).23_
The foregoing is a fair description of our hunting trips for several subsequent
years, and, when at home, I used my wagons & oxen for transport while
residing in Durban,
When hunting at the upper part of Sf Lucia Bay in 1851, I visited, alone, the
scene of death which I have previously described, and picked up the scattered,
and few remaining bones of my unfortunate companions, (Scotch, English,
French etc), and buried them in a porcupine's hole; a few shreds of clothing
too were lying about; the wolves, jackals, and other animals had, doubtless,
been busy.
In December 1852, I rented my house & erf in Durban, and moved out to a
farm, called Waterbosch, at the head of the Nanuti River, which I had
purchased 24 from a man named Hans Delanger25 for one roll of canvas, and 36
yards of unbleached calico, just after the Dutch had evacuated Durban. When
absent, I left my wife on the farm, and allowed Mr David Divana 26 & his wife,
Mr Duprit27 & his wife, and Mr William Adams28 & his' wife, with their
families, to reside there, too, in separate houses, and to cultivate the land for
their own use.­
On leaving to hunt in 1853, I took with me a Mr Charles Phillips,29 from
Cape Colony, who contracted fever at the upper end of St Lucia Bay; I had
fever also, so we trekked back to the Umsatusi, (leaving the hunters behind),
and he died at Mr (afterwards Bishop) Schruder's Norwegian Mission. 30
We hunted as usual in the years 1854, 1855 and 1856; I employed my time,
when at home, in working each year on the farm since our occupation; in the
former year, above-mentioned, an English gentleman of title joined our party,
(name forgotten), who was accompanied by, and in charge of, an old and
trusted servant of his family; on one occasion, when hunting, they found
themselves on the weather (wind) side of a herd of elephants, which, of course,
charged them on getting the scent; one animal in particular made for the
Piet Hogg's Reminiscences 21

gentleman, on seeing which the servant rushed in between his master and the
animal, in order to save and protect him, but was seized and trampled to death;
this cast a sad gloom over our party, and the gentleman returned to England in
a broken-hearted condition. (See Mr George Cato's records).3!
In 1857, I was accompanied on my hunting tour, by Mr David Divana who
was Killed by a bull buffalo on the Umsatusi.
Our hunting grounds were Zululand, and Swaziland as far as the Issabi
River; while at the last-mentioned spot in 1858, we met an enormous troop of
elephants trekking, (probably from 1 500 to 2 000), and killed 95 in about two
hours; the work of 7 men & myself, after having surrounded them with
fire. 32
In the same year, and when at the upper part of St Lucia Bay, I sent 2 men to
Delagoa to purchase powder from the Portuguese governor;33 they took, for
this purpose, £3 in gold and one lambs-wool blanket; while my men were there,
they explained the terms upon which I engaged them to hunt; a slave,
happening to overhear their conversation, determined to make a bolt for his
My people procured the powder, and returned with it, the Portuguese
governor sending a message by them, to the effect that he would like to see me,
and to purchase some more blankets of the same Kind as that sent.
About eight or ten days after this, the slave before-mentioned came to my
camp at evening; my people, believing him to be a spy, were, at once, up in
arms, seized him, and brought him to me; upon examination I found he was
what he represented himself to be, a runaway slave, and satisfied my people
upon that point; he was Kindly treated, and was overjoyed to find himself safe
and free, having been granted permission to remain in camp, and to make
himself useful.­
He said that he could take my hunters to a great King living ten days journey
north of Delagoa, who would give them permission to hunt where elephants
were very numerous; the name ofthe Manakosi (King) was Ushushanggana. 34 I
bought more powder, for gold, from the Portuguese governor, but did not visit
We reached Durban this year in September. In the same month I started off
the runaway slave, with two of my men, to visit King Ushushanggana; they
took with them samples of beads, blankets, native rings etc, also handker­
chiefs, for the King's inspection and choice, with instructions to tell him that
they were English goods: that I asked permission to hunt in his country for two
years, and that if he would, Kindly, make a selection, from the samples of
goods sent, I would bring him as much as would remunerate him for that period
of time. The men returned in February, 1859, bringing with them samples of
the articles chosen by the King, from those sent, and with his permission to
hunt, for two years, on the sea side (coast) of his country; the upper part he had
given to the Dutch to enjoy upon terms of friendship with himself.
I commenced making preparations accordingly, and expended £1500 cash
on guns, amunition, and trading-goods, and £70 on goods for King Ushushang­
gana; I also procured, through a Durban merchant named Ross,35 40 rifles, of
English manufacture, costing £18 each; and I made 60,000 bullets of six to the
lb., and 60,000 of eight to the lb.
From the time the messengers returned from King Ushushanggana, great
excitement prevailed amongst my hunters; they were eager to proceed to his
country, (saying, if they hunted there for two years, they would, on their return,
be enabled to lead a life of independence), but they did not wish me to
22 Piet Hogg's Reminiscences

accompany them, as they saw plainly I was becoming more and more subject to
attacks of fever; my wife, too, was very reluctant that I should proceed so far
north, but I tried to pacify her by saying that I was only going to fetch the ivory
from the slaughter of the 95 elephants before-mentioned. .
It was my custom, when starting to hunt, to parade all my men in front of the
house, in order that I might inspect all guns, rifles and bandoliers, issue
amunition, and give general instructions for the march; upon this occasion, my
wife, having overheard my remarks, addressed the men, telling them that if I
went north of a certain line, they were to return without me.
We started in May 1859, and trekked slowly, with two wagons and one salted
horse, for the upper part of St Lucia Bay, (having sent two messengers in
advance, one to Mpanda, and one to Cetewayo, saying that I was about to
cross Zululand, in order to hunt north ofDelagoa Bay in the dominions of King
Ushushanggana, and that my people numbered over four hundred), William
Mayas and lohannes Strydom 36 accompanying us.­
I afterwards learnt from Cetewayo that his spies had been watching us every
night, on the other side of the Pongolo River, while we were crossing his
territory. ­
On arriving at St Lucia Bay, we left our wagons in charge of lohannes
Strydom and some Kafirs, and divided into two parties, I taking, with my men,
the upper side of the Pongolo to Swaziland, and William Mayas the lower side,
with his men, to Delagoa.
In Swaziland I was again the victim of fever, attacks occurring in the
morning & evening, and my hunters then insisted that I, or they, should return
to Natal; I waited, however, three days, in which time the fever abated
somewhat, and considered well, in the mean-time, what a large outlay I had at
stake; I finally decided to let my hunters proceed, and that I would return to
Durban with the ivory of the 95 elephants.­
On the fourth morning I mustered all my people, and told them of my
decision, that two men were to go to King Mswazi '.I' mother,37 asking her to
send down my ivory at once to the wagons, and that one man was to
accompany me; that the remainder would go to meet William Mayas at the
lssabi River, explain matters to him, and would then proceed to hunt in King
Ushushanggana '.I' country.­
I then left for my wagons. a journey of five days, and there awaited Mayas
and the ivory. my health improving meanwhile; we were detained nearly three
weeks, as the distance to be traversed by the (ivory) porters was fully 270
miles, an eighteen day's journey.
I was accompanied by Mayas and lohannes Strydom to Natal, was again
attacked by fever en route, and reached my farm (Waterbosch) in the latter part
of October; I was then subject to periodical attacks for the two following
In December, of the same year, while living quietly at home, I was one day
surprised to see one of my men (Boo i) returning and bringing with him 2
strange natives; after the usual salutation, the strangers explained that they
were chiefs of King Ushushanggana who had sent them to say how pleased he
was with my present. and that he gave me, in return, 1000 tusks of ivory, which
had been duly delivered to my Portuguese c1erk;3R that he was very glad the
English had come to his country, for he was tired of the Portuguese, and their
cruel and unjust annual exactions in the form of ivory, and boys and girls for
slaves; he believed that I was a man of influence, and begged that I would take
Piet Hogg's Reminiscences 23

the two chiefs sent to the govern our of Natal, praying him to use his power &
good offices towards the stoppage of this dreadful demand for slaves. 39
The chiefs were allowed to interview Government, with what result I never
When taking leave of my hunters & people in Swaziland, I little thought
what a terrible calamity was about to overtake them, and me, but especially
On a day of one of the winter months, in 1860, a hunter named Umfuguse,
with his rifle-bearer, brought the awful news that all my people, numbering
over four hundred had been killed by King Ushushunggana, and all my ivory,
valued at £80,000, confiscated! a false report had been sent him by a person,
whose name, for charity's sake, I suppress, to the effect that I was a friend of
Mpanda and Cetewayo, and that I intended, with them, to invade Ushushang­
gana's territory in the following year, and to murder his people! that the
hunting expedition was merely a blind, and that my real object was to spy out
the land. 40_
I was simply staggered at this dreadful intelligence, so also the wives,
children and families of the unfortunate slaughtered ones; the cries of agony,
and wailing, of these poor souls, night and day, for two weeks, or more, were
terrible! My hunting career now came to an end.


The references to Hogg's Reminiscences in the Natal Archives (Bird Papers, A79, v.7) are to the
most recent pagination in square brackets.
I. Hogg later contradicts himself (p. 39) by stating that this expedition occurred in 1849. This is one
of many inaccurate dates: it probably did take place in 1851, the year of his marriage. It is clear
from the context that other dates are also inaccurate.
2. George Christopher Cato (1814-93), early settler, merchant, later first Mayor of Durban and
M.L.C. He was imprisoned by the Boers after the siege of Congella in 1842, along with John
Hogg and a number of others. See S. O'B. Spencer British settlers in Natal 1824-1857: a
biographical register Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1987, v.4, p.55.
3. William F. Mayoss, son of Henry George and Eliza Mayoss who both died in Durban,
respectively in 1849 and 1852. He also accompanied a Charles Etty on a hunting trip as servant
in 1851. On pp. 39-40 Hogg says that Mayoss lived with him after his marriage, that he hunted
and traded for Hogg in Zululand, that in 1857 he married Elizabeth Shortt (whom the Hoggs had
adopted), and that when the Hoggs moved to Helpmekaar Mayoss stll}'ild on Waterbosch (see
n.24 below) and traded on his own account. In 1887 he was granted a 50 year concession in
Swaziland (agricultural, pastoral and horticultural). Source: S. O'B. Spencer and her British
settlers in Natal v. 6, p.50.
4. There is no such reference in Cato's Reminiscences in the Bird Papers, A79, v. 4, NA The present
editor has not had the opportunity to cull the Cato Papers in Killie CampbelJ Africana
5. In a Note (p. 39) Hogg describes Mayoss' experiences: after the fever subsided, Mayoss walked
to the Thukela River where he met a Boer acquaintance who took him to be treated by Daniel
Charles Toohey, trader, who was then living just south of the Thukela. Toohey took Mayoss to
Mrs Strydom in Durban where Hogg met him later; Mayoss had lost all his hair. For more on
Toohey see Thomas Green's Reminiscences (Natalia 22, 1992, p.20) and S. O'B. Spencer
'Green are the hills of Natal: early Irish settlers in Natal, 1824-1862' Southern African-Irish
Studies 2, 1992, p. 192.
6. Hogg described this on p. 28: a large teaspoon of mustard and hot water as an emetic, followed by
a large tablespoon of Stockholm tar three times daily.
7. Hendrick Strydom, member of the large Strydom family; see n.9 below.
8. Shelagh Spencer suggests that the first-named may be Dorus (or Theodorus) Potgieter
(unidentified), and that the second was probably the Johannes Abraham Hendrick Davellisted in
B. Cilliers Genealogiee van die A{rikaner families in Natal Kaapstad, Hiemstra Trust, 1985,
p. 105. The last-named has not been identified.
24 Pief Hogg 's Reminiscences

9. The Voortrckker couple, Hendrick and Maria Elizabeth Strydom, had numerous sons and
daughters, one of whom, also named Hendrick, was Hogg's 'boyhood's companion' (see n. 7
above). Thomas Green' s Reminiscences (sec Natalia no.22. Dee. 1992, p.20) says that Mrs
Strydom, widow. was a well-known and popular figure in Durban who treated everyone's
ailments. See also S. O'B. Spencer British sfttlers in Natal, v. I, p. II (entry under William
10. Anna Gertrude/Gertruida Strydom, by whom Hogg had five daughters. After her death Hogg
remarried in 1879 and produced another daughter and two sons. He attempts to list his children
and grandchildren (see pp. 9 and 42). Earlier (also on p. 9) Hogg claimed that he married on 10
Dec. 1849 but this is an example of his dubious dating for neither Lt-Gov. Pine (see n.12
below) nor Thomas Cato (see n. 17 below) were in Natal in 1849.
11. Daniel Lindley (1801-1880), Preshyterian minister and missionary (American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions) was sent to the interior in 1837 but when the Boers and
Ndebele clashed, he came to Natal. He ministered to the Voortrekkers from 1841-46 and then
returned to African missionary work at Inanda mission station until 1873. Sec E. H. Brookes
and C. de B. Webb, A history III Naflll, Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1965,
pp. 27-8.
12. Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine (1809-91) was appointed Lt-Governor in 1849 on the death of
Martin West, hut only arrived in Natal in April 1850.
13. lames Proud foot (b.1819), son of a Scottish landowner, came to Natal in 1843. He became a
storekeeper, elephant hunter, Zulu trader and leading resident in Durban until he returned to
Scotland in 1862. Sce A. F. Hatters]ey The British settlement of Natal Cambridge University
Press, 1950, p. 186 and E. Goetzsche 'RoURh but ready': an (~tticial history (~I the Natal
Mounted Rifles [Durban, NMR, 197-], pp.3, 7, 9.
14. Samuel Beningfield (1802-74): auctioneer, law agent and horticulturist. He arrived in Natal in
1841 and was also imprisoned by the Boers in 1842. He and his wife had a family of 6 children
by 1849. See S O'B. Spencer British settlers in Natal, v.2.
15. Probably loachirn Friedrich Kahts of Hamhurg who arrived in Durban in the 1830s, where from
1839 he acted as a shipping agent and later as German consul. He was married to Maria
Elizabeth Susanna Scheepers. See D. F. Du T. Malherbe Familv register of'the South African
nation, 3rd ed., Stellenbosch, Tegniek, 1966, and S. O'B. Spencer British settlers in Natal, v.4,
p. 192. Thomas Green's Reminiscences (p. 18) rather puzzlingly refers to 'old Mr. Kahts'; yet
by the early I 840s, 1. F. Kahts was barely 30 years old.
16. William Proudfoot (b. 1823), brother of lames (sec n.13 above), was a member of the 'hunting
company' formed by the Hoggs and Elephant White in the late 1840s. He had farmed on the
turbulent Eastern Cape frontier before coming to Natal and taking up farming at CraiRic/Jurn,
Riet Vlei. He was Captain of the Karkloof Troop of the Natal Carbineers and conducted a
number of raids against the San. Hogg mentions hunting with him in 1848 and 1850 (sce pp. 25
and 28).
17. Spencer in British settlers in Natal, v. 4, p. 61 claims that lohn Pearson Cato (1831-1908), later
a contractor and farmer, and his younger brother, Thomas Pearson Cato, were half-brothers (not
nephews) to George Cato and that Thomas was in Natal by 1851.
18. Spencer believes that Captain George Anthony Durnford, who was in the 27th Regiment
(lnniskilling Fusiliers) not the 45th Regimen!. could not have heen at Hogg's wedding. He had
participated in the relief of the besieged Hritish force at Congella in 1842. The 27th Regiment
apparently left Natal in 1845. D. R. Morris in The washinR of the spears London, Cape, 1966,
p. 215 claims that he was uncle to the hetter known Anthony William Durnford (1830-1879) of
the Royal Engineers who was killed at Isandlwana in 1879. See 1. C. Chase The Natal papers
(Cape Town, Struik, 1968), p.225-8, and A.l. Cook 'British military, Part I: Irish in the
British army in South Africa, 1795-1910' in Southern African-Irish studies 2 (1992), p.97
19. Spencer suggests that this may he the Isaak Cornelis lohannes Vermaak, baptised 1809, and
married to Dorothea .Tohanna Laas, listed in Cilliers Genealogiee van die Afl'ikanerjamilies in
Natal p. 621.
20. Wife of lames Alfred Rorke (1827-75) and another of Mrs Strydorn's daughters, Sara lohanna
b. ca 1830. In 1849 the Rorkes were settled on a farm on the Buffalo River. Rorke hunted,
traded and ran a ferry service at the Drift which was named after him. See G. A. Dominy
'Disputed territory: the Irish presence in the marchlands of the Zulu kingdom, 1838-1888'
Southern African-Irish studies 2, 1992, pp: 215-6, and Cilliers Genealogiee van die Afrikaner
families in Natal p. 589.
21. The elder Ogle, Henry, was one of the first white hunter-traders to come to Port Natal in 1824.
After 1843 he settled near the Mkomazi River with a large African following. Spencer British
settlers in Natal v. 2, p_ 60 refers to lohn Ogle, son of Henry, who was out of favour with
Pief Hogg '.I' Reminiscences 25

Mpande in 1850 for having abducted a Zulu girl. In v, 6, p, 225 Spencer mentions that by 1857
John Ogle was living in Nomansland with an African following and was threatening to go to
war with another mixed-blood chief.
22. Mpande kaSenzangakhona (1810-72), who became king in 1840, had his principal homestead
at Nodwengu which lay between the White and Black Mfolozi Rivers, Hogg had met him for
the first time in 1848 and had had an interview lasting about three hours (pp, 25 and 26-7).
Hogg was always scrupulous in requesting permission to hunt and in informing the Zulu king of
his movements (see also p. 29), In a Note on p, 41 he describes the formalities and postures to be
assumed when approaching Zulu royally. A much underrated king, Mpande has recently been
the subject of some rc-assessment. See p, Colenbrander 'The Zulu kingdom, 1828-79' in
A, Duminy and W, Guest (eds) Natal and Zululandfrom earliest times to 1910, (Pietermaritz­
burg, University of Natal Press, 1989), pp, 93-107 and J, Wright and R. Edgecombe 'Mpande
kaSenzangakhona c, 179R-1872' in C Saunders (ed,) Black leaders in Southern African history
London, Heinemann, 1979,
23, In a Nole on p,40, Hogg says: 'In addition to the tusk of ivory weighing 95lbs" King Mpanda
presented me, at the same time, with five head of cattle.'
24, According to Shelagh Spencer, Waterbosch was owned by James Archbell (title issued
lI1211852) so Hogg probably merely leased il. Either his memory was defective or he was
embellishing the trulh, The Nonoti River lies between the Mvoti and Thukela Rivers,
25. Hans De Lange (Johannes Hendrikus de Lange, called popularly Hans Dons) visited Natal with
the first wave of Voortrekkers in 1834, He was a well-known scout and elephant hunter.
Delegorgue claimed that De Lange would sprinkle his ivory with sea-salt and water to increase
its weight! See A, Delegorgue Travels in southern Africa v, I, (Durban, Killie Campbell
Africana Library, 1990), pp, 82, 268, 278, and 340, and H, F. Fynn Diary (Pietcrmaritzburg,
Shuter and Shooter, 1969), p,230,
26, David Divana or Veanna was a coloured man who was born in Stellenbosch, Earlier Hogg
mentions having rescued Divana, his wife and child from a flooded Mngeni River in April 1848
(see pp,24-5) Further on Hogg incorrectly refers to Divana's death by a bull buffalo in 1857;
in fact, Divana died on 7 September 1858, leaving his wife Lena Plaatjies and three children
(Source: S, O'B, Spencer). It is interesting that Hogg makes no reference to Divana's colour,
that he refers to him as 'Mr', and thal they appear to have been equal companions,
27, This may be the p, du Pre/Paul Dupre who signed a traders' memorial in December 1856
claiming loss of cattle in the Battle of Ndondakusuka between Cetshwayo and Mbuyazi, and
who surfaces again in official documents regarding an incident in 1865 when he shot a fleeing
Zulu refugee; he was then living on the Zulu side of tbe Thukela River (Source:
S, O'B, Spencer), See also C. Ballard 'The role of trade and hunler-traders in Ihe political
economy of Natal and Zululand, 1~24-1880' African economic history 10,1981, p,9,
28, William Adams (c, 1820-1916), trader and farmer, arrived in Natal in 1842, He also married a
Strydom daughter, and in 1854 (the year they married) the couple went on a hunting and trading
trip to the Zulu kingdom wilh the Hoggs and others; they were based in the Ngoye forest. See
S. O'B, Spencer British se/llers in Natal v, I, p, 11. Adams and his wife are recorded as making
articles for trade from animal hides, In the late 1850s Adams moved to the Thukela River and
then to a farm near Helpmekaar - not far from his wife's sister Mrs lames Rorke (sce n, 20
29, This may have been the son of Benjamin and Rose Marion Phillips (nee Whitecomb) who died
in 185\ not 1853,
30, The Reverend H, p, S. Schreuder (1817-1882) of Ihe Lutheran Church established a mission
station near the Mpangeni and MhlatllZe rivers in 1851,
31. See n.4 above,

32, See the Introduction for sceptical comments on all these statistics,

33, In September 1855 Francisco Sallcs Machado became governor at Delagoa Bay, It is not known

if he was still in residence by 1858,

34, During Shab's rise to power a numher of northern Nguni groups were pushed northwards, One
of these was led by Soshangane (or Manukosi) in the early 1820s, He established a vast empire
in southern Mozambique of Gaza Nguni (also called Shangane), According to Harries,
Manukosi died in 1858, the same year that Hogg records hearing about him, and in what
happened subsequently Hogg continues to refer to Manukosi/Soshangane although the latter
was succeeded by Mawewe, See p, Harries' Labour migration from Mozambique to South
Africa, with special reference to the Delagoa Bay hinterland, c, 1862-1897' Ph,D thesis, SOAS,
London, 1983, pp, 168-9.
35, Probably James Augustus Ross who arrived in Natal in 1849 with his wife and a servant. He owned
the farm Bellair, Source: S, O'B, Spencer; see also British settlers in Natal v,6 pp, 15,181.
26 Piet Hogg's Reminiscences

36. This may have been another member of the numerous Strydom family. In a Note on p. 40 Hogg
says that lohannes Strydom lived and hunted with him from 1852 to 1859, although this is the
first mention of this individuaL 10hannes assisted H Jgg in his trading activities when the latter
fell ill in 1860 while living in the Biggarsberg, wt::;.t to Grey town with the Hoggs, and finally
died of fever while hunting in the St. Lucia Bay area.
37. Mswati waSobhuza's mother was Tsandzile (Kuthandile) Ndwandwe (ca 1806-ca 1875), also
known as Nompethu. She has been called one of the most outstanding individuals in a long line
of exceptional Swazi queen mothers. Mswati was only 14 years old when he inherited the
kingship; Tsandzile emerged as the dominant regent who ensured Mswati's survivaL She had a
very powerful personality and was a shrewd and capable administrator who earned enormous
respect. Her principal homestead was Ludzidzini adjacent to the Mdzimba Range in central
Swaziland. By 1852 Mswati had moved to the north and this may explain why Hogg
approached the queen mother for assistance. See P. Bonner Kinfis, comm'(mers and cOl/cession­
aires: the evolution and dissolution of the ninelernth century Swazi state (Johannesburg,
Ravan, 1983), p. lOS and H. M. lones A biofiraphical refiister of Swaziland to 1902 (Pieter­
maritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1993), pp.446-7.
38. In a Notc on pAD, Hogg says the following about this man: 'When leaving to hunt in 1859, I
engaged an old country Portuguese named Vennune [n as clerk, who was onc of those killed
by order of King Uslzushanggana'.
39. These anti-slavery sentiments may be considered specious given the active involvement of
Soshangane's Gaza in the slave trade with the Portuguese through Oelagoa Bay from the 1820s,
and later with the Transvaal Boers. Harries has estimated that at the peak of the trade in humans
in the late I 1:120s and early 30s over I 000 slaves were exported annually through Oelagoa Bay.
In 1829 the Portuguese had been trade and tribute allies with the Gaza but relations between
them fluctuated; in 1856 for instance the Gaza attacked Lourenco Marques but signed a peace
treaty the next year. In 1858 when Soshangane/Manukosi died (see n. 34 above) civil war broke
out: Mawewe succeeded him but was challenged by Mzila, who gained the support of the
Portuguese. The situation was greatly complicated by the presence of Swazi and Transvaal
Boers and the large number of chiefdoms in the Oelagoa Bay hinterland. The messengers who
came to Hogg appear to have been on a mission to try and involve the British to intervene in the
civil war on the side of Mawewe. If this was so, they were shrewd to use the anti-slavery plea
for the British and international anti-slavery movement had been active since the 1830s. By the
1850s this had caused a a drop in slave prices and a decline in the export trade from southern
Mozambique. It was in fact this situation which seems to have encouraged Soshanganc to shift
his slave trade activities to the Transvaal Boers. See P. Harries 'Slavery, SOCIal incorporation
and surplus extraction; the nature of free and unfree labour in south~east Africa' in 1nl of
African history, 22 (1981), pp.312-8; and P. Harries 'Labour migration from Mozambique to
South Africa' pp. 158-172.
40. Enmity between the Zulu and Gaza dated back to the 1820s (sce n.34 above). The Zulu
considered Soshangane a threat not only to their political authority (as the Gaza chief managed
to lure disaffected Zulu men and women northwards), but also to their control of trade with
Oelagoa Bay. Both Shaka and Oingane had sent military expeditions to attack the Gaza (in 1828
and 1833), and even though Mp'lIlde and Cetshwayo were circumscribed by the presence of the
British, the Boers and the Swazi. as late as 1856 Mpande was interfering in a succession dispute
in the Oelagoa Bay hinterland and threatening to attack Louren~o Marques. So presumably this
rumour of Hogg being in league with the Zulu was not improbable, particularly in view of the
turbulent politics amongst the Gaza at that time (see n. 39).
Game Conservation in Zululand

Changing Perspectives

This study aims to examine the attitudes of successive administrations in Zululand towards the
conservation of game. It also looks at the actual measures taken to preserve game in any way and it
attempts to interpret the interplay of forces which influenced the introduction and implementation of
the measures. The particular period chosen is one of great change in the relationship between human
and wild animal. It covers the period from the arri val of the first hunter-traders up to the formation of
the Natal Parks Board. During this time the administration of Zululand passed from Zulu hands to
those of the colonial and then provincial government. As there is relatively little documentary
evidence for the period of Zulu administration, the main weight of the study falls upon developments
during the colonial and provincial periods

During this period Zululand was ruled by successive Zulu kings who exercised
a certain degree of control over game resources. This was mostly in the form of
restrictions on hunting activities for purely utilitarian reasons, A few selected
species were regarded as royal game which would have limited their destruc­
tion, These included elephant, lion, leopard and otter. I This protection of royal
game was expedient for the kings for both political and economic reasons.
Elephant provided the ivory for a flourishing ivory trade, first through Delagoa
Bay and later through Port NataL Ivory was therefore a source of wealth to the
king but it was also a means of extending political power. Leopard and lion
provided artefacts which were used to denote status so their protection was for
political ends: a chief could be distinguished by his leopards kin cloak, whereas
a necklace of lion claws belonged exclusively to royalty.2 It is possible that
other animals such as buffalo were also protected. 3
Although the Zulu kings limited their own people's destruction of big game,
right from 1824 onwards they seem to have allowed white hunters considerable
freedom. While they had to obtain permission to hunt from the king, who then
designated a particular hunting area, a suitable array of presents bought one
enormous rights. To kill 150 sea cows and 91 elephant constituted a 'splendid'
hunt to such whites in the 1850s 4 White hunter-traders sought to exploit the
wild animals of Zululand as a source of revenue, They obtained ivory (both
elephant and hippo), buffalo and hippo hides, animal horns and other skins.
While the annual Blue Books of Natal do not reflect the quantity of these
products that came specifically from Zululand,5 the contemporary hunting

Natalia 23 and 24 (1993/94). B. Ellis pp. 27 -44

Appendix 1: Table showing revenue derived from animals for the period 1861-1875 t'-)

1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875

Animals No. 4 32 7 12 11 5 40 1620 217 25 19 8 7 3

(wild living) £: 140 486 105 105 239 131 331 938 2618 525 345 233 49 75

Hides: Buffalo No. 70 27 73 671 172 468 584 935 I 098 1206 760 1 154 3253 4444
£: 71 25 80 842 237 554 815 1060 714 789 433 795 1 386 2248
Hippo No. 8 8 7 138 251 178 221 104 9 32
£: 23 23 19 113 348 402 403 140 IQ 75

Horns: Buck Pairs: 5 54 14 91 62 36 84 28 73 3 16

£: 5 25 4 62 15 18 25 9 25 157

Rhino No. 94 I 161 I 019 201 735 282 433 348 727 1 289 2470 371 310 317 17
£: 120 729 874 129 626 260 449 388 808 1029 1 721 221 135 236 15

Ivory: Ibs. 75545 101 016 183014 125874 79395 28738 21 618 29690 35969 41 806 46872 34628 48863 25755 23912
£: 22825 27059 40736 26254 19 154 6546 5908 8077 10449 12051 12140 9022 17 168 8580 8289

53924 174340 314446 417014 345109 222728 194443

Skins: No. 25 46 60 39 I 591 2076 1 879 197 ~
£: 36 66 42 56 324 239 540 31 10537 34652 62405 90068 84 124 46336 41 028
Specimens Pkgs: 32 27 34 36 51 34 22 21 51 28 55 31 16 54 39
of Natural £: 181 174 282 249 306 293 III 156 227 182 538 283 95 666 199 ""....,

History '<:
Total revenue from o·
animals: £23 373 28562 42 142 26793 21 515 7844 8245 10869 26 117 49311 77 973 100 344 102 391 57205 52 Oil

Total export for pro­ N
ducts and manufac­ :::
tures of the colony: £101892 118826 153831 208774 201486 196875 218095 266641 351920 359101 505737 591480 596480 678976 733642
Game Conservation in Zululand 29

accounts indicate that Zululand's contribution was large. It seems quite

possible that the kings gave permission for hunts without realising just how
destructive the white hunters were.
After the British occupation of Natal, government officials, military person­
nel and tourists were quick to follow the paths established by the hunter-traders
into Zululand. Big game hunting became a status symbol of the leisured
classes. John Dunn, a European resident in Zululand, led hunting parties of
British army officers to St Lucia Lake,6 and other private parties were frequent.
John Dunn himself kiIled 203 hippo in one season.7 So although the Zulu kings
theoretically had control over the hunting of big game animals, they appear to
have allowed white hunters far too much latitude. Game resources must
therefore have diminished alarmingly.
While Zulu men relished a hunt, their hunting activities were restricted by
several factors. As game provided a source of protein, it was important that it
was not eliminated. This was ensured by political control, for while any
individual could hunt by himself, a group hunt could be called only by the most
important person in the neighbourhood. 8 Given the Zulu hunting aids of
assegais, knobkerries, poisoned blades, traps, snares, pits and fences, an
individual was unlikely to kill much. A co-operative activity, however, would
be far more successful. Such hunts appear to have been held about six times a
year in any given locality.9 Also, after the death of an important person the
ritual ihlambo hunt would be held to purify the mourners; also certain animals
were hunted to provide material for use in sympathetic 'magic'. \0
There was an area of Zululand where no hunting occurred. This was the
traditional Zulu valley, from which Shaka moved in 1823. It seems that the
valley was kept as a sacred place and no hunting was allowed in it. This ban
stiII existed in 1873, for Theophilus Shepstone commented then that the valley
was 'sacred and is preserved from all desecration' Y
With the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, the disruption impacted on game
resources in several ways. First, the number of guns in the country increased
dramatically.12 These the Zulu turned on each other and the game, probably
driving the bulk of it northwards. 13 The exile of Cetshwayo, with the
subsequent appointment of thirteen kinglets, meant that even the theoretical
control over game no longer lay in one person's hands. And as the commis­
sioners sent to settle the new boundaries moved through Zululand they
commented on an insect that was to have a profound effect on game
conservation in the area - the tsetse fly. The presence of tsetse in Zululand
had been known of for decades. 14 According to the commissioners they
expected to find it in Somkhele's location near St. Lucia, in Mlandela's from
the north of the Mfolozi river to the junction of the Black and White Mfolozi
rivers, and in Zibhebhu's along the Mkhuze river in the north. However, they
were not troubled by tsetse and concluded that 'the obnoxious insect has
followed on the track of the big game and gone further northwards'. 15
After years of procrastination a complete change in the administration was
effected in Zululand. It was annexed to the Crown in 18R7, with the Governor
of Natal, Sir Arthur Havelock, becoming Governor of Zululand as well, and
Melmoth Osborn becoming Resident Commissioner. Among many other
things, the new administration had a different attitude from that of the Zulu
towards game. It had already developed a limited policy of protection towards
certain species of game and as this policy came to apply to Zululand it is
necessary to consider it.
Until 1866 no legal restrictions on hunting in Natal existed. Years of heavy
30 Game Conservation in Zululand

exploitation, especially by white settlers, had resulted in a marked diminution

of the game. This caused no public concern because, by then, hunting was a
pastime of the leisured classes only.16 Natal's first game law, Law No.10 of
1866, was promulgated because the sporting elite wanted some protection
given to the species they liked to shoot. 17 The law included three schedules, the
first two with open and close seasons, theoretically to protect the animals
during the breeding season, A permit from the resident magistrate was
necessary to destroy these animals. To shoot animals listed in Schedule C the
permission of the governor was needed. The schedules were as follows:

Schedule A (Close season 15 September - 15 April)

All the birds known as: partridge, pheasant, pauw, korhan, guinea fowl,


Schedule B (Close season 15 August - 30 November)

The buffalo quagga,18 bonte quagga (or zebra), hares, impala, reed buck,

steenbuck, oribi, bushbuck, blue duiker, klip-springer, duiker, rheibuck.

Schedule C

Eland, hartebeeste, ostrich, secretary-bird, turkey buzzard (known as the

Those convicted under this law were subject to a fine or imprisonment.

In 1884, Law No. 23 repealed the Law No. 10 of 1866. The close seasons were
extended so that they became the following:

1866 1884
Schedule A: 15 Sept ­ 15 April 15 August - 30 April
Schedule B: 15 Aug - 30 Nov 30 June - 31 Dec

The contents of the schedules were altered slightly, Wild duck were added to
Schedule A, rabbits to Schedule B, but buffalo, quagga and zebra were
removed from it. Schedule C, the equivalent of royal game, was extended to
include the following: hippo, kudu, springbok, rietbok, and blesbok. Once
again public interest seems to have been minimal. The Natal Witness featured a
small article on 'The New Game Laws' where it listed the schedules and made
no further comment. 19
One animal which was not protected in either law was the elephant. While
these were no longer found in Natal, they were still present in Zululand, Their
protection was urged by the former big game hunter, William Drummond:

The inhabitants of Africa will grieve, when it is too late, at the short
sighted policy which has allowed for the purpose of immediate gain, to
kill down the only animal capable of becoming a beast of burden through
the tsetse-infected districts. 20

So once again, the rationale for protection was purely utilitarian.

By 1887, then, the game resources of Zululand were in the hands of a white
administration which had no aesthetic appreciation of game. The Natal game
law of 1884 which now applied in Zululand too, served the interests of a select
few. It did not offer wide protection of game.
Game Conservation in Zululand 31

The political unrest in Zulllland during 1887 and 1888 made any rigid
implementation of the game law unwise. Havelock went so far as to
authorise Osborn to grant shooting permits freely.2l Osborn replied that the
resident magistrates had directed their attention to the law; because the Zulu
were accustomed to such restrictions he did not anticipate any difficulties in
enforcing it, especially as the magistrates would explain that the intention of
the law was to protect the listed animals during the breeding season 22 Evidence
exists that the Nqutu magistrate, for one, made an effort to acquaint people
with the law. 23
Osborn appears to have had a genuine concern for the preservation of game.
As a contributor to the correspondence columns of the Natal Witness was to
record years later, 'During Sir Melmoth Osborn's time, the game was strictly
preserved'.24 Osborn pressed for far greater protection to be given to large
game, including elephant and rhinoceros, which had not been included in the
schedules previously. As the man on the spot he was able to advise the
governor that there were 'very few head of large game still remaining in
Zululand' .25 Accordingly, he began refusing shooting applications from whi~
Osborn's warning was taken seriously by the new governor, Sir Charles
Mitchell. He responded to it by proclaiming Zululand's first game law,
Zululand Proclamation III of 31 March 1890. The new law differed from the
Natal one in three ways. Following Osborn' s request,26 elephant were not
protected, with a fine ranging from £50 to £ I 00 for shooting them without the
governor's permission. The schedules were increased with a new Schedule D
attached. Schedule D, for which permission to shoot came from the governor
only, now included all the animals recommended earlier by Osborn. This
meant that far more big game was protected. The new schedules were:

Schedule A (close season 31 August - 31 March)

Partridge, pheasant, korhan, gllinea~fowl and crane.
Schedule B (close season 1 October - 31 March)
Pauw and wild duck.
Schedule C (close season I September - last day in February)
Hares, rabbits, rheibuck, steenbuck, oribi, bushbuck, blue duiker,
Schedule D
Rhino, buffalo, waterbuck, roan antelope, wildebeest (black and blue),
quagga, zebra, impala, klipspringer, inyala, hippo, eland, hartebeest,
kudu, reedbuck, springbuck, blesbuck, ostrich, secretary-bird, turkey

The buck, which came under the new schedule D, were now protected in the
late part of the breeding season. This consideration could well have been
prompted by the petition received by the governor, requesting this protection,
because hunting parties had killed doe which were heavy with young.27
Lord Knutsford, the Secretary of State, fearing that enforcement of the law
would intensify the existing friction in Zululand, requested an explanation
from Mitchell. 28 Mitchell's reply contained several reasons for his action,
including the fact that the Zulu were already accustomed to restriction. 29 He
32 Game Conservation in Zululand

stated that Osborn had represented the case as being serious and had pointed
out that several hunting parties had applied for permission already because of
the approach of winter. Mitchell concluded by saying he would take great care
to avoid difficulties in applying the law. He requested Osborn to instruct the
resident magistrates to take great care in applying the law and desired Osborn
to constantly keep this matter within his notice. 3() That Osborn did this is
attested by a case from Lower Mfolosi, in August 1890, where thirteen men
were convicted for killing a buffalo and were fined £10 each by the resident
magistrate.'1 Osborn intervened, and had the fine reduced to £5, reminding the
magistrate of the warning he had circularised on 20 June.
As the British presence in Zululand expanded through the establishment of
new magistracies, the reports of these officials gave the Resident Commis­
sioner a far clearer picture of life in Zululand. Their comments included
observations on tsetse fly and the mortality of cattle through nagana. 32 The
magistrate at Ndwandwe felt strongly that the cattle deaths were linked to the
tsetse fly and big game, attributing the nagana outbreak to the increase in big
game through preservation.» The Zulu asserted that the disease was caught by
cattle grazing where big game abounded, eating the saliva of the latter left on
the vegetation, while white traders and hunters maintained it was caused by the
bite of the tsetse f1y.34 Commissioners settling boundaries in 1891 noted the
presence of fever and 'Unagane' near St Lucia and at the junction of the
Mfolozi rivers, where game abounded. 35
If stability was to be maintained in Zululand, the British government could
not permit the Zulu to suffer a cattle disaster, for the cattle were a vital factor in
their way of life. It was not surprising then that by Zululand Proclamation
No. V of 1893, previous game legislation was repealed and the schedules
reshuffled so that much of the big game now fell into Schedule C. That this was
intended as a measure against nagana was emphasised by a despatch from Lord
Ripon, the Secretary of State, 'I trust that the Proclamation will have some
effect in checking the disease known as "Nakana." ... '.36 The proclamation
also extended the open season for Schedule A by six weeks. This proclamation
is interesting in that it was a measure for decreasing the amount of protection
afforded to big game in response to a serious threat to the interests of cattle
keepers living in the vicinity of the game areas. It therefore established a
The seriousness of the nagana outbreak led to the appointment of Surgeon­
Major David Bruce to investigate the disease. By December 1894 he was at
work, based at Ubombo. The importance of his work was grasped by Marshall
Clarke, Os born 's successor, who commented to the governor that the question
of nagana and tsetse fly 'must affect future game legislation in Zululand'. The
Zulu were confident that the spread of nagana corresponded with the increase
in big game. Bruce lost no time, for by the end of 1894 he had already
identified a 'haematozoan' in the blood of the diseased animals.
The nagana outhreak did not deter a certain well-known sportsman,
C. D. Guise, from pressing for greater preservation measures for game in
general and the white rhino in particular 37 He suggested that the habitat of the
white rhinoceros should be beaconed off as a game reserve. His suggestions
impressed the governor, who then asked for Clarke's opinion. Clarke's reply
was to submit a draft proclamation, including rhino as royal game. 3R The
resulting proclamation was signed on 16 March as Zulu land No. V.
Game Conservation in Zululand 33

st Lucia Reserve
No. 1

..,I .~


The range of Hills and Lagoolls bounded on the
north and west by St Lucia Lake and the Umfolozi
river, on the east by the Indian Ocean, and on the
south from a point on the sea coast four miles south Indian Ocean
of Cape St Lucia in a direct line to the southern· =-_________....
L-_ _ _ _ _ _
most point of the Umfolozi river.

Reserve No. 2

Hlabisa District



The country between the
Black and White Umfolozi
rivers from their junction to
the Mandhlagazi.

In other parts of southern Africa, exciting moves in game conservation were

being initiated. The first game reserve in South Africa was proclaimed in 1894,
in the Phongolo area, by President Paul Kruger. A contributor to the Natal
Witness pointed out that the strip of land between the Mfolozi rivers was a
natural game reserve and needed but to be proclaimed. 39 D. W. Montgomery
JP, also wrote to the governor on the ll1atter. 40 Sir Waiter Hely-Hutchinson, the
new Governor of Natal, responded by discussing the possibilities of game

34 Game Conservation in Zululand

sanctuaries with Clarke, who subsequently submitted proposals of which the

governor approved. Clarke had suggested too that the Zululand police force be
enlarged to enable it to help patrol, and that European conservators be
appointed. 41
By Zululand Government Notice No. 12, gazetted on 30 April 1895, five
reserves were proclaimed: 42
1) St Lucia
2) Umfolosi Junction
3) Hluhluwe Valley
4) Umdhletshe (Hlabisa District)
5) Pongola-Umkuzi area
In these five natural pockets of game, killing of game was strictly prohibited.
To check on this the boundaries of the reserves were to be patrolled. Maps of
the reserves were available from the Secretary for Zululand. By June two
conservators had been appointed at £10 a month each. D. Tweedie was in
charge of the Entonjaneni and Hlabisa districts and S. Silverton of Lower
Umfolosi. 43 While the establishment of the reserves seemed to arouse little
public interest, for only a small article appeared in the Natal Witness
announcing the news,44 the governor recognised the seriousness of the need for
conservation. As he commented to Clarke: 'We may be within measurable
distance of the total destruction of game in Zululand'. 45 It seems that the
proclamation of the reserves had come just in time to prevent this.
In a bid to block President Kruger's access to the coast, Britain annexed
more territory adjoining Zululand. The area to the west of Tsongaland became
the magistracy of Ingwavuma, while a British Protectorate was established
over Maputaland (Tsongaland). So two more areas reputedly rich in game
came under British control.
In November lR97 Tsongaland was annexed by Britain and added to Zululand,
which was annexed to the Colony of Natal. Charles Saunders was appointed
Resident Commissioner. By then a new game law was being enforced,
Zululand Proclamation No.2 of 1897. White rhino were now placed with
elephant as especially protected game, and several alterations were made to the
Schedule A
Partridge, pheasant, korhan, and guinea fowl.
Schedule B
Pauw and wild duck.
Schedule C

Hares, rabbits, buffalo, waterbuck, wildebeest (black and blue), kudu,

klipspringer, inhlegane, redbuck, steenbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, blue

duiker, and duiker.

Schedule D
Roan antelope, impala, oribi, inyala, quagga, zebra, eland, hartebeest,
springbuck, blesbuck, ostrich, secretary-bird, and turkey buzzard.
Schedule E
Hippo and black rhino.
Game Conservation in Zululand 35

Hlabisa District

Hluhluur Valley Reserve No. 3

~'I" /~.':
~o" f
" j


Umtola Hill

BOUNDARIES 1.-_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _--'

A straight line from the highest point of the Zankomfe ridge to the Mpanzakazi hill; from thence to the
present sites of the kraals of Umdimdwane, Mantunjana, Saziwayo, and Umswazi; from the latter kraal to
the nearest point of the Mzinene stream; thence to the Mehlwana hill, south of the Hluhluwe river; thence to
the Mtolo hill; from thence in a direct line with the same hill to the Hluhluwe river; and from there to the
highest point of the Zankomfe hill.


Reserve No. 4 Umdhletsche

On the south by the Ingweni stream from its source near the Dukumbane hill to a point near the Tamhana
hill, from thence in a direct line with the Dumheni store to the Munywane stream; thence up the course of
that stream to its source; thence on to the Rornholo range, and along its watershed to the Umsunduzi River;
thence up the course of that river to its source; thence in a straight line to the Bomholo hills; and thence in a
straight line to the source of the Ingweni stream near the Dukumwane hill.
36 Game Conservation in Zululand

Permission to shoot animals listed in Schedule E could be obtained only from

the governor or resident commissioner. Given this written permission, the
resident magistrate for the particular area would issue a licence, costing £10.
This was the first time any sort of fee was charged for shooting. Presumably
the relatively high fee would limit the destruction of animals listed in
Schedule E. Despite the possibility of gaining considerable revenue through
this, the government followed its policy of protecting game by stipulating that
no one person could kill two of either of the Schedule E animals in a given
By clause 18, the governor and resident commissioner could allow protected
game to be killed in the close season when it was proved to their satisfaction
that the game was doing damage to crops or that food was scarce. This sort of
consideration was necessary because conditions in the previous years had been
harsh. In 1894-5 there had been a bad drought and Zululand was invaded by
locusts, so that the crops suffered extensively. Rinderpest followed, killing off
most of the cattle owned by Africans. With the new game law, game could
become an alternative food source, although it could not fill the vital role cattle
played in the African economy.
Clause 14 allowed for the formation of reserves, from time to time, by the
governor publishing a notice in the Government Gazette. Resident magistrates
could issue licences, costing ten pounds each, to shoot in certain of these
reserves, provided that the governor approved. This meant that the reserves
were no longer sanctuaries, as they had been in 1895. However, there was a
limit to the numbers of animals shot, for under one licence no one could shoot
more than four head of buffalo, waterbuck, wildebeest or kudu. By Govern­
ment Notice No. 16 (Zululand), four reserves were proclaimed:

1. Umdhletshe
2. Hluhluwe
3. St Lucia
4. Umfolosi

The maps indicating the boundaries of the reserves were identical to the ones
used in 1895. Shooting permits were given for reserves proclaimed in 1895,
but with one now omitted. It lay in the area where Bruce was working on tsetse
fly disease, which presumably was the reason for its being omitted.
The Rinderpest outbreak, which seemed to last until 1904, ravaged domestic
stock and game. The magistrates' reports indicated extensive losses of buffalo
and kudu, while at Ubombo 'koodoo, waterbuck, buffalo and reedbuck are
practically extinct' .46 The government reacted to the outbreak by announcing
that no permits would be issued during 1898 for killing royal game. 47 As royal
game fell under Schedule D, it meant that neither kudu nor buffalo were
To many in Zululand, there was a definite relationship between game, tsetse
fly, nagana and rinderpest. Where there was game, there were tsetse flies, and
cattle suffered from nagana: where there was Rinderpest, game died and the
incidence of nagana seemed to decrease. David Bruce discovered that the adult
fly acted as a carrier of a living parasite, which was in the blood of the wild
animals. 48 In areas like Entonjaneni and Hlabisa, nagana practically dis­
appeared after the rinderpest outbreak, while in Mahlabatini and Lower
Umfolosi, both rich in game, nagana persisted. 49
A few years later, magistrates' reports showed that game numbers had
Game Conservation in Zululand 37

started picking up again.50 Kudu, buffalo, zebra and waterbuck appeared to be

flourishing, while a comment on the white rhino indicated that the numbers
could have been reduced to as few as fifteen head in the whole of Zululand.
Another factor that was to bedevil game conservation was introduced when
Zululand was opened up for white settlement in the early ] 900s. The
Delimitation Commission allocated about one third of the territory for
alienation by the Natal Government. No mention was made of the existing
game reserves in the report. As far as can be made out, the position was as
follows: Umfolosi 1unction Reserve lay completely within the alienable
section as did the Umdhletshe Reserve. A very small part of the Hluhluwe
Reserve and about half of St Lucia lay in 'Native Territory'. The Umfolosi and
Hluhluwe reserves alone covered about 111 700 acres. This meant that not
only was there less alienable land available than expected but also that, as the
reserves were in the alienable section, then some settlers would inevitably have
to settle near to the reserves. This was to have far-reaching consequences
In 1906 Game Act No.8 was passed which applied to both Natal and
Zululand. Although it repealed earlier game legislation, it did retain the
Zululand reserves. There was now to be only one open season for the different
schedules, unless the governor in council decided otherwise concerning a
particular species. Zebras were put back into the open schedule, for 'it had
been strongly recommended that the numbers, both of zebra and wildebeest,
should be kept down, in order to prevent the spread of tsetse fly'. 51 For
Zululand, Schedule C now contained the following animals: hippo, hartebeest,
eland, kudu, female rietbuck, impala, inyala, blesbuck, oribi, red bushbuck,
buffalo, waterbuck, rhinoceros, Java or Mauritius deer, and ostrich. A
ministerial permit was required in order to shoot these animals.
To shoot animals in reserves and those listed in Schedule D, one needed a
permit costing £10, and there was also a specific rate to pay per animal: hippo

Reserve No. 5

( I Pongola •Poort
/1 1: I I :
Nkubeni I! IX Beacon: Fokati
Ihl Ubombo':

The country between the Pon­

~ :~_r~·
gola and Umkusi Rivers and the
Bombo Mountains, bounded on

the east by a line from where the
Pongola makes its sharp northern 40"-Q;-
bend to where the Umkusi is
joined by the Mhlohlela stream. ~--------------_ _ _ _ _---J
38 Game Conservation in Zulu land

and black rhino - £20; buffalo and kudu bull - £10; eland bull - £5. Each
applicant was allowed only one permit per year and the permit had to be
endorsed by a magistrate. There was also a limit per person on the number of
animals shot. While the fee for a permit had been introduced in 1897, the idea
of a rate for these larger animals was new. The Prime Minister asserted that it
was to go towards the expenses of keeping 'watchers'. 52 As in 1897,
allowances were made for the killing of game (but not game in Schedule E)
during the close season if they were damaging crops or if food was scarce.
Criminal Record Books again show that this new law was enforced. 53
Between 1905 and 1907 several changes were made regarding game
reserves. A new reserve in the Hlabisa district, Reserve No. 5, was proclaimed
and in April of 1907 both Reserves Nos. I and 5 were abolished. The Report of
the Game Reserves Commission 1935, stated that the reserves were abolished
because of the complaints of the transport riders, whose cattle were being
killed off by tsetse 54 This indicates how susceptible the government's game
protection policy was to public pressure.
By 1910 another aspect of game protection was under public scrutiny. With
the existing game law, a resident magistrate could refuse others permission to
hunt, while he himself hunted when he liked. Several complaints arose over
alleged cases of abuse of this authority .55 It was clear that some other body with
the authority to grant permits was needed. The obvious solution was the
employment of a chief conservator who could co-ordinate all information
concerning game. With the Act of Union, control of wildlife was given to the
provinces. It was therefore up to the new provincial administration of Natal to
resolve the continuing problems and re-evaluate the existing policy on the
protection of game in Zululand.

The early years of this period saw three important changes relating to game
protection in Zululand. In the first place, a select committee appointed by the
provincial council to inquire into the game laws recommended that a head
game conservator should be appointed to live in Zululand. 56 This need was
recognised by the administration and the post was advertised. 57 Frederick
Vaughan-Kirby was appointed to the post in August 1911.
Secondly, by Government Notice No.23 of 1912, a new reserve was
established in the Ubombo District. It lay to the south of the reserve
proclaimed near there in 1895. Also, the boundaries of Reserve No.2 were
altered slightly and it became known as the Hluhluwe Reserve. 58
Third:}', Ordinance No.2 consolidated all pre-Union game measures for
Natal and Zululand and it divided game into three groups:

Schedule A: ordinary or small game

Schedule B: specially protected game
Schedule C: royal game

The schedules were all added to and, in particular, the list of royal game
became: crested crane, impala female, inyala female, kudu female, eland
female, roan antelope, tsessebe, blesbuck, springbuck, buffalo female, black
rhino female, white rhino, elephant. There was now one close season from 16
August to 30 April for both Schedules A and B. To shoot ordinary game, a
licence costing £1 had to be obtained from an 'officer'. Those considered
Game Conservation in Zululand 39

'officers' were a game conservator, assistant game conservator, game guard,

any police officer or any other officer appointed by the administrator. The
administrator issued the licence required to shoot specially protected game for
a fee of £1 plus the particular fee listed for the animal. There was a limit to the
big game that could be killed under one licence. Theoretically royal game
could not be killed except by special permission of the administrator. All
licences were to be returned on their expiry, with details of the game killed.
The ordinance gave the administrator wide powers: he could alter schedules,
establish reserves, declare animals vermin, and in times of scarcity he could
permit the killing of protected game.
Despite the earlier complaints against them, resident magistrates were still
authorised to issue shooting licences, as could game conservators, and district
police officers. To enforce the new ordinance, twenty officers for Natal and
Zululand were appointed in July 1912. 59 There is evidence that the new
ordinance was indeed implemented. 60
In 1913 the administrator exercised his right to declare certain animals as
vermin.6J The list included wild dogs, leopard, cheetah, jackal, crocodile,·
baboon and mamba. Provided one produced proof of the kill one could collect a
reward, specific for the species killed. This was the first measure of its kind to
be applied to Zululand, although Natal had had a similar law between 1866 and
1868, the Noxious Animal Law of 1866.
By 1912 tsetse fly had reappeared on the Somkele-Hlabisa road and was
apparently rife in the Ubombo District. 62 Over the next few years tsetse
affected the existing game protection policy profoundly. Schedules were
altered, fees reduced, travellers were given the right to destroy certain animals
such as zebra and blue wildebeest near the roads, and special shooting areas
were made in some of the districts. But the reserves remained untouched. The
public felt that by reducing the charges for shooting, the government had
admitted that game was the cause of spreading the disease, so permission for a
big game drive was sought in a petition sent to the administrator by the farmers
of Lower Umfolosi. 63 Similar drives had been held in the past, when farming
interests had been threatened by nagana outbreaks. 64 As the settled white
community grew in Zululand it became a vociferous body, able to pressurise
the administration through public meetings and through the representation of
the local members of the provincial council. A game drive seems to have been
held in 1917, where the black reserves in Ubombo and Ingwavuma districts
were thrown open to game destruction, except of inyala, hippo and rhino.65 It
was estimated that 20 000 wildebeest alone were killed.
The question of tsetse investigation and control was complicated at the
administrative level. While the protection of fish and game was in the hands of
the provincial governments, the departments of agriculture and entomology
were under the central government. The field of scientific investigation into
tsetse fly therefore lay under central control. Accordingly, a research officer,
D. T. Mitchell, was appointed to investigate the nagana position in Zululand. A
copy of his first report appeared in the Zululand Times. 66 From his investiga­
tion he concluded that the fly belts were areas where there was warmth,
moisture, shade, and food with game as the carrier. He classified game into
'localized' and 'wandering' types and suggested shooting around reserves to
create buffer zones. This was discussed with Vaughan-Kirby, who felt the
scheme was workable.
In 1919 the Ntambanana settlement was opened up for returned soldiers. The
area was around the Ntambana river near its confluence with the Mhlatuze
40 Game Conservation in Zululand

river. The newcomers began farming cotton and cattle, and some farmers were
already established when the winter months came and their cattle died of
nagana. There was a great public outcry at this and the government was forced
to consider the settlers' interests. Therefore in May the Umfolosi boundary was
altered, so that the area in the south, near the settlement, that had been added in
1907, was deproclaimed. In August the Umfolosi reserve was abolished.
As a result of large public meetings held in Durban, where discontent at
inefficient governmental help against tsetse was voiced, the central govern­
ment again became involved. In 1921 it appointed R. H. T. P. Harris to
investigate the tsetse problem. For five years he based himself at a site
overlooking the Mfolozi River. There he discovered the importance of bush to
the thicket-loving species of tsetse, Glossina pallidipes.
During the 1920s there were many alterations to schedules, fees and special
shooting areas - all attempts to eliminate tsetse. Despite the ravages of tsetse
the provincial government did not believe that the case against the reserves had
been proved. A new reserve, Ndumu, was established in 1924. This was in the
northernmost part of Zululand on the Usutu River and covered about 25 000
acres. The reserve was particularly interesting in that it was the chief breeding
ground of inyala and impala. 67
The administration's concern over the tsetse problem led to the holding of a
conference in January 1925. Present at this conference were the members of
the Provincial Executive Committee, the Minister of Agriculture, and repre­
sentatives from the divisions of Entomology and Veterinary Research, and
from the Department of Native Affairs as well as from Settlers' Associations.
The Minister of Agriculture promised to allow the research to continue, for
with the allotment of farms in the Mkhuze and Hluhluwe areas the position
became more serious. The measures which had so far been employed against
tsetse were the clearing and burning of areas (to reduce the undergrowth), the
shooting of game or else the erection of game fences around settlements and
the scientific investigation into the tsetse bionomics. In 1927 a patrol was
formed to prevent game from straying from the Umfolosi reserve to the
Ntambanana settlement. 6H
In 1928 a Game Advisory Committee, representing the various interests, was
appointed by the administration. Included in this were provincial councillors
and representatives from all the Farmers' Associations, the Wildlife Protection
Society and the South African National Society. At the first meeting of this
committee it was decided to request through the Administrator of Natal that the
Minister of Agriculture second Harris for a further three years of tsetse
research in Zululand. Since Harris had retired in 1926, further work had been
done by officers C. Fuller and M. C. Mossop who wrote short entomological
notes after eight weeks' observation at the Umfolosi River in 1927. 69
The return of Harris in 1929 began a new phase in the battle against tsetse.
For his experimental work he needed the game to be concentrated in the
Umfolosi reserve. To effect this, Harris suggested that a buffer zone around the
reserve be cleared. Accordingly, in 1929, an enormous game drive was begun.
'Within eighteen months 26 162 head of game had been killed around the
periphery of the Umfolosi Game Reserve' .711
In 1928 Vaughan-Kirby retired and Roden Symons became the chief
conservator. He stayed only one year and was succeeded by Captain Harold
Potter. Potter established himself in Hluhluwe so he was right in the heart of a
The 1920s had seen the deproclaiming of the Umfolosi reserve, and the
Game Conservation in Zululand 41

holding of massive game drives. White settler opinion in Zululand had been
adamant that the game had to go. St Lucia too was disestablished in 1928 by
Proclamation No. 20. Amidst all this controversy and destruction it is hearten­
ing to note that the administration had taken the opportunity in 1927 to
proclaim a Bird Sanctuary in the St Lucia area. 71 Birds had never been
connected with the spread of tsetse or nagana in any way so there could be no
public complaint over this.

As the game drives had scattered the game, it became necessary to reproclaim
the Umfolosi reserve in 1930 so that Harris could work with a dense game
population. His realisation that the tsetse fly hunted by sight rather than smell
led him to invent the Harris Fly Trap. It was a large hessian-covered wooden
frame, surmounted by a netted box, designed to simulate a beast, both in size
and shape. The tsetse entered the trap through an opening at the bottom.
Throughout 1930 and 1931, when tsetse was particularly bad, debate raged
between the Natal Administration and the Union Government over the
anti-tsetse campaign. The central government would not provide funds for fly
traps, so the Natal administration paid for the first thousand set up in Umfolosi.
At a conference held in Pretoria in September 1931 the Natalians wanted to
keep all the reserves and trap on a wide scale, whereas the Minister of
Agriculture wanted Mkhuze and Hluhluwe deproclaimed. He agreed to the
financing of a limited trapping operation done for scientific purposes only.
Despite the expenses and disappointments of the tsetse campaign, the Natal
Administration maintained the belief that the necessity for the total abolition of
the game reserves had not been definitely established. In the mid 1930s when
the drier weather had seemed to limit the tsetse outbreak, the Natal Administra­
tion initiated a policy of attracting visitors to the Zululand reserves. In the past
the reserves had seemed to be places where game was preserved, in a
sanctuary, closed off from the public. Now an effort was made to draw the
public to the reserves.72 Under Captain Potter the development of public
facilities went ahead and other steps were taken to encourage the public to
visit. Potter lived in Hluhluwe and this reserve in particular underwent rapid
development to cater for the public. Roads were made throughout the reserve
to facilitate viewing. Pans near the roads were cleared out and enlarged to
entice the animals to use them. The first rest huts were built at Hluhluwe in
1934. To increase the variety of animals, impala were brought in from Mkhuze,
and in 1934 Potter recorded that they had settled down and that they were
breeding in Hluhluwe. Impala and inyala were transferred from Mkhuze from
then onwards. A pair of springbuck from Pretoria and eland from Natal
National Park were other imported animals. Europeans were prohibited from
shooting in a five mile zone around the Hluhluwe reserve, which preserved the
game in the corridor between the Hluhluwe and Umfolosi reserves.
While continuing its interest in the inland reserves, the administration also
turned its attention to the coastal areas. It proclaimed a game reserve at
Richard's Bay in 1935, while in 1938 St Lucia was reproclaimed. 73 The
boundaries were 'That area covered by water up to the high tide mark and
known as St Lucia Lake, False Bay and the Estuary connecting the said Lake
with the Indian Ocean, including St Lucia Bay, and all islands situated within
the area'. This meant that the reserve covered about 91 090 acres. It contained
a wealth of bird life as well as hippo and crocodile. In 1939 a considerable area
42 Game Conservation in Zululand

of land near the reserve was proclaimed a park,74 and the area became a popular
fishing resort.
As always, a shortage of staff to implement regulations remained a problem.
While Umfolosi was policed by eight African game guards in 1935, their main
concern was to protect the white rhino which were showing a healthy increase
in numbers. A European ranger was appointed to the Umfolosi, but both
Mkhuze and Ndumu were staffed only by African game guards. At St Lucia,
where the fishing resort was developing, there were two European and fifteen
African game guards by 1938. This phase of increasing the personnel
concerned with game preservation culminated in the establishment of the
Zulu land Game Reserves and Parks Board in 1939. 75 The board consisted of
seven members, appointed by the administration; three were to be representat­
ives of agriculture, commercial and publicity interests. The board's functions
were to control, manage and maintain the Zulu land parks and reserves.
Scientific investigation on tsetse continued with Dr Henkel and A. Bayer
visiting Zululand in 1935. Henkel's comprehensive report on the ecology of
Hluhluwe was published in 1937. In 1936 fly trapping operations had
commenced in Hluhluwe, with 3 000 traps. This required about sixty more
Africans to set up and maintain the traps.76 This trapping was in the hands of
the Union Government.
From 1939 the nagana position in Zululand deteriorated so that in 1942
another intensive nagana campaign was embarked upon. The object was to
eradicate tsetse by eliminating the host animals, to attack the breeding grounds
of the fly by clearing the bush, to create effective barrier clearings and to
remove cattle from areas where they were likely to become infected and act as
a food supply for the fly. Extensive shooting occurred in Umfolosi and Mkhuze
and the adjoining crown lands from 1942 to 1950, with about 70 000 animals
being destroyed. 77 Only rhino were protected from this slaughter. The
Hluhluwe reserve was retained, with complete protection. The campaign
caused much public agitation, this time in concern for the protection of the
game. The Natal Administration erected a boundary fence around the
Hluhluwe reserve and the corridor, and made arrangements to fence the
southern boundary of the Umfolosi reserve to prevent game from encroaching
on the Ntambanana farms and adjoining African subsistence farming areas.
In 1945 experiments were begun with aerial dusting of DDT at Mkhuze, as a
direct attack on the adult flies. While it was costly, it seemed to eradicate the
fly. In 1947 the aerial spraying was extended to Umfolosi and Hluhluwe so that
the breeding sites identified earlier by Henkel could be destroyed. This
eventually resulted in the complete elimination of the disease.
In 1947 control of game passed into the hands of yet another body.
Ordinance No.35, 1947, provided for the constitution of a provincial board
known as the Natal Parks, Game and Fish Preservation Board. This board of
nine members, appointed by the administrator, was to manage and maintain all
parks, game reserves and nature reserves within Natal. The Board could take
all measures deemed necessary to enforce the laws relating to game, fish and
other fauna and flora of Natal, appointing officers and servants to do this.
Game Conservation in Zululand 43

Note: All documents cited arc in the Natal Archives Depot, Pietermaritzburg.

I. A. T. Bryant. The Zulu IJellple: as they were betc)re the white man came (Pietermaritzburg,
1949), p.686: E. J. Krigc, The social system of the Zulus (London, 1936), p.206.
2. W. H. Drummond, The large game and natural history of South and South-East Ajrim
(Edinburgh, 1875), p. 228.
3. T. V. Bulpin, Shaka's country: a hook IIf Zululand (Cape Town, 1952), p. 145.
4. W. C. Bald win. Ajrican hunting and adventure from Natal to the Zambezi (London, 1863),
5. See Appendix I for trading figures taken from the Natal Blue Books.
6. J. Dunn, John Dunn, Cetywayo and the three generals, (ed. by D. C. F. Moodie), (Pietermaritz­
burg, 1886), pp.21-26.
7. ibid., p.26.
8. L. H. Samuelson, Zululand, its traditions, legends, customs and .f(Jlk lore (Marianhill, n.d.),
9. Bryant, The Zulu people, p.265.
10. Krige, Social System o(the Zulus, p.334.
11. T. Shepstone, Report 0/ the expedition sent by the Government o.fNatal to instal! Cetywayo as
King of the Zulus, p. 11.
12. Wilkinson, [Mrs], A lady's life and travels in Zululand and the Transvaal during Ceteway()s
reign: being the lljrican letters and Journals of the late Mrs Wilkinson (London, 1882),
pp. 92-94,
13. Zululand Archives [hereafter ZAl ZA 19, Report of the Zululand Boundary Commission
1880.This information is in a report on wild animals and insects which is under the section
headed 'Miscellaneous'.
14. Wilkinson, A Lady's Life, p.198.
15. ZA 19, Report on the Zulu land Boundary Commission 1880.
16. Ellis, B. 'The impact of White settlers on the natural environment of Natal, 1845)1870' in
B. Guest and J. M. Sellers (eds), Enterprise and Exploitation in a Victorian Colony: aspects (d'
the economic and social history of colonial Natal, (Pietermaritzburg, 1985), p.79.
17. Partidge, pheasant, guinea fowl, buffalo, buck and ostrich.
18. Quagga by then were very scarce.
19. Natal Witness, 15 Nov 1884.
20. Drummond, The large game, pp.220-221.
21. ZA 6, No.117, Governor of Zululand to Resident Commissioner, 10 May 1888.
22. ZA 42, No.32, Resident Commissioner to Governor of Zululand, 13 March 1889.
23. Nqutu Magistrate's Record Book, 1887-1898, p.443. On 18 Dec 1888 the magistrate recorded:
'Policeman Babaseleni sent along Buffalo and Blood River boundaries to warn natives against
infringement of game laws'.
24. Natal Witness, 14 Mar 1895, letter from H. L. Carbutt.
25. Zululand Government House [hereafter ZGHj ZGH 727, W. Francis to the Governor of
Zululand, 15 Mar 1890. See comment by M. Osborn.
26. ZGH 720, Osborn to Legal Adviser, 25 July 1889.
27. ZGH 720, Resident Commissioner to Governor of Zululand 13 March 1889. (Petition
28. ZGH 729, No. 34, Knutsford to Governor of Zululand, 13 May 1890.
29. ZGH, 822, No.79, Governor of Zululand to Knutsford, 12 June 1890.
30. ZA 11, Mitchell to Os born, 13 June 1890.
31. ZA 68, Resident Magistrate Lower Umfolosi to Resident Commissioner, 21 August 1890. See
endorsement hy Resident Commissioner, 26 August 1890.
32. ZGH 736, Acting Resident Commissioner to Governor of Zululand, 10 March 1891.
33. ZGH 738, Acting Resident Commissioner to Governor of Zululand, 10 March I R91.
34. ZGH 740, No.74, Acting Resident Commissioner to Governor of Zululand, 10 August 1891.
35. ZA 19, Boundary Commission, 1891. This information is present in the journal only and not in
the final Commission Report.
36. ZGH 755, Secretary of State to Governor of Zululand, 1 Feb 1894.
37. ZGH 762, C. D. Guise to Secretary for Zululand, 19 Feb 1895.
38. ZA 44 No. 12, Resident Commissioner to Governor of Zululand, 4 March 1895.
39. Natal Witness, 14 March 1895, letter from H. L. Cat'butt.
40. ZGH 763, D. O. Montgomery to Governor of Zululand, 29 March] 895.
41. ZA 44, No. 20. Resident Commissioner to Governor of Natal, undated letter, 1895.
44 Game Conservation in Zululand

42. See maps.

43. The Report o( the Game Resell'es Commission, 1935, seems to have been unaware of these
appointments. See p. I.
44. Natal Witness I May 1895.
45. ZGH 766, Governor of Zululand to Resident Commissioner, 4 Scpt 1895.
46. Natal Departmental Reports: Report o( Magistrates, 1903.
47. Government Notice No. 262, 1898.
48. D. Bruce, Preliminary Report on the Tsetse Fly Disease or Nagana in Zululand.
49. Natal Departmental Reports: Reports ot Magistrates. Information on Entonjaneni and Lower
Umfolosi came from the 1898 reports, whereas that on Hlabisa and Mahlabatini was taken from
the 1900 reports.
50. ibi. The information comes from the reports as follows: Hlabisa, Lower Umfolosi and
Mahlabatini, 1900; Mahlabatini, IngwavlIllla and Nkandhla, 1903; Ubombo, 1904.
51. Legislati1'e Assembly Debates. Vol. XL, p. 88.
52. ibid.
53. Magisterial Criminal and Civil Case Records Melmoth, 1906-1912.20 July 1908: Three men
of Chief Matllla of Babanango fined for contravening Act 8, 1906. 15 Oct 1908: Two men of
Chief Sitclo find five pounds for contravening Act 8. 1906, by killing a dlliker in a close season.
(£1 paid to informers.)
54. Report (}(the Game Resel1'es Commission 1935, p.2.
55. Zululand Times, 22 July 1910; Legislative Assembly Debates, VoI.XLVIII, p.424.
56. Zululand Times 2 June 1911.
57. Provincial Notice No.64, 1911.
58. Government Notice No. 86, 1912.
59. Court Notice No. 123, 1912.
60. Melmoth Criminal Record Book (1912-1917),18 July 1914, I1 April 1916.
61. Government Notice No.77, 1913.
62. Natal Departmental Records: Native Affairs Department, Magistrate's Report 1912.
63. Zulu land Times, 4 June 1915.
64. A. de V. Minnaar, 'Nagana, big-game drives and the ZlIluland game reserves (l890s-1950s)'
Contree 25,1989, pp. 13-14.
65. 1935 Game Reserves Commissum Report, p.2.
66. Zululand Times, 7 April 1916.
67. S.F. Bush. 'The Fauna of Natal and Zululand' in Natal Regional SUl1'ey. Vol.l, p.IO!.
68. 1935 Game Reserve Commission Report, p.5.
69. M. C. Mossop, 'Entomological notes on Glossina paWdipes', Annexure 565, 1927-1928.
70. Ian Player, Big Game (Cape Town, 1972), p.288.
71. G. A. Dominy, 'History of Lake St Lucia Eastern Shores', in Coastal & Environmental Services
EnvironmcIltal1mpact Assessment, Eastern shores o/Lake St Lucia (Kingsa/Tojan Lease Area),
(Grahamstown, 1992) Vo1.2, p.425-445.
72. See the Reports of'the chief' consel1'ator, Zululand, 1934-1938.
73. Provincial Notice No.353, 1935; Provincial Notice No. 108, 1938.
74. Proclamation No.35. 1939.
75. Ordinance No.6, 1939.
7(5 Re,n(>rt ,~/the chiefc(IY}<enJatrJr Zululond. 1937
77. Pla:'er, Big Game, p.289.

Lake St Lucia and the

Eastern Shores

The Natal Parks Board's Role

in the Environmental Impact Report

The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of the considerable role
played by the Natal Parks Board (NPB) in the Eastern Shores environmental
impact assessment (EIA). Aspects of the history of the area are included to
provide an appreciation of the lengthy struggle for recognition of the value of
this area as a natural area of national and international importance. The
significance of the area for nature conservation and tourism (and ecotourism l )
are also provided, to place the role of the NPB in perspective. The paper
emphasises the value of the nature conservation and tourism land use option as
that which is well suited for the long term conservation of the environmentally
sensitive Lake St Lucia and its surrounds. Lake St Lucia is located in the
Maputaland Plain at the southern extremity of the Mozambique Coastal Plain.
The lake lies within an important protected area known as the Greater St Lucia
Wetland Park, which is administered by the Natal Parks Board (See Map I).

Summary of the early history of the Lake St Lucia area

In pre-Shakan times, the area was occupied by Nguni/Thonga of the Mtethwa
Clan.2 It was from this stock that the Zulu nation emerged and became the
dominant political force under the leadership of King Shaka. By 1824, the Zulu
domain stretched from the Pongola River in the north, to the Tugela River in
the south, including the St Lucia area. The first written accounts of Lake St
Lucia were provided by Portuguese navigators who discovered and named
Cape St Lucia in the 15th century, and this name was subsequently extended to
the lake. However, the first written accounts of the great wildlife resource
present in the area were only published about three hundred years later when
the hunter and explorer Oelegorgue visited Lake St Lucia in 1838 and 1844. 3
The arrival of the first explorers and white hunters initiated the systematic
plundering and slaughter of this great resource. By the late 19th century, the
wildlife resources of Maputaland had become of major significance to the
colonial government of the day, with natural products such as ivory and skins
constituting its principal export commodity. The exploitation focused on

Natalia 23 and 24 (1993/94), B. Bainbridge pp. 45-60

Map1 The Grea ter St Lucia Wet la nd Park & its
Compo nent Protected Area s





29 2.

31 ~ South Africa

17 27 29' 31 33

E] NPB f .-ou.ct:d f, '-ea (Sr... te Fo re!> t.)

~ " " Pm""",,, ,,"" (M m.o Ro, mo)

Lake St Lucia 47

hunting for trading purposes, sport and food. Guns that had been introduced by
the white settlers subsequently became available to the indigenous peoples,
and the wasteful exploitation rates increased dramatically.4 Shortly before the
turn of the century, the then British Governor of Zululand commented that 'we
may be within measurable distance of the total destruction of game in
Zululand'. This prompted the notion that the first wildlife reserves in Zululand
should be proclaimed. 5
Establishment of the first protected areas
The colonial Zululand Government proclaimed five reserves in 1895 to protect
the dwindling wildlife resource. These included the St Lucia Game Reserve,
created to protect Lake St Lucia and its surrounds and its associated wildlife.
This was one of the first protected areas to be legally designated on the African
continent. These reserves were extended by the Colony of Natal in 1897. Thus,
the first official recognition of the need to provide permanent protection for
Lake St Lucia and its surrounds was given nearly a century ago. 6 Parts of the
original protected areas were subsequently de-proclaimed as game reserve, but·
maintained as Crown land. These included areas such as the Eastern Shores,
which were occupied by Zulu communities.
Following the 1902-5 Lands Delimitation Commission, parts of Zululand
were occupied by white settlers. Many of these were cattle farmers, who
occupied land near the protected areas initially established in 1895, and which
had been avoided by the Zulu people because of the prevalence of tsetse fly
within the protected areas, and for other reasons. This led to pressure being
placed by the settlers on the government to eradicate the tsetse fly. Attention
was also turned to eradication of the game, then thought to be the principal
food-source of the fly. Serious attention was given to the de-proclamation of
the protected areas to facilitate eradication of both the game and tsetse fly, but
fortunately, this was never permitted. 7
The 1964166 Lake SI Lucia Commission of Enquiry
Frost describes the public outcry that arose in 1961 following an official
decision to build a dam on the Hluhluwe river for sugar cane irrigation. 8 The
dam would have reduced the flow of fresh water into Lake St Lucia, already
under stress because of destabilization of the catchments and water extraction
from its feeder rivers.
This was one of the concerns that resulted in the official appointment of the
Lake St Lucia Commission of Enquiry.9 The commission was instructed to
investigate alleged threats to the survival of the animal and plant life of the
lake, and factors causing high salinity levels in the lake. The commission was
also required to recommend 'a solution which would best suit the lake and
surrounding agriculture, forestry, domestic and commercial water needs in the
total catchment area'. 10
The published recommendations of the commission were comprehensive
and far-reaching and included the following:
• The phasing out of the timber plantations that had been established on the
eastern shores in the mid-fifties, and the consolidation of this area with Qther
areas to increase the protected area surrounding the Lake St Lucia system;
• Placement of the lake and the expanded area under a single management
48 Lake St Lucia

Regrettably, the recommendations of the commission were largely igllored by

the government of the day. Nevertheless, a significant and enduring contribu­
tion which has not been lost sight of since by environmentalists, was the
suggested need for a single management authority to be made responsible for
the entire area.

Involvement of the Natal Parks Board in the St Lucia area

The NPB was formed in 1947, and has held responsibility for the St Lucia
game reserves and other protected areas surrounding Lake St Lucia since its
formation. The eastern shores were given into the custody of the then
Department of Forestry (subsequently Forestry Branch of the Department of
Environment Affairs) in the mid-fifties, when the area was designated and
demarcated as the Eastern Shores State Forest (ESSF). The Zulu people, who at
that time occupied the State land, were moved from the area, because the
government decided to initiate a commercial afforestation programme on the
coastal dune cordon and the adjacent well-drained flats. At their greatest
extent, the man-made forests were approximately 5 250 ha in area.
In 1976, the NPB was allocated permanent rights for nature conservation and
outdoor recreation in terms of the provisions of the Forestry Act over the
natural areas of ESSF.11 Involvement of the NPB in the management of ESSF
was considered necessary because approximately 7 600 ha consisted of natural
communities of high nature conservation value, and the area was already
assuming growing importance for ecotourism.
The importance of the natural component of the ESSF for nature conserva­
tion and ecotourism was acknowledged in a joint policy statement for the area,
prepared by the NPB and the department, and authorized by the then Minister
of Environment Affairs in 1983, and provision made for the legal entrenchment
as nature reserve of this area. This entrenchment was, however, never

St Lucia as a special place

The area has thus long been seen by many sectors of the community, as a
special place, with many significant values. Some of the universally held
values which contribute to this special image include the following:
• Its historical importance;
• Its 'significant natural resources; and
• Its natural beauty.

Apart from the universally-held values, individual sectors of the community

attach value to attributes which are very different to those held by other
sectors. For example, the Zulu people have valued the area as a part of their
ancestral lands and as a burial ground for a number of their ancestors.
Environmentalists have long valued the area for its unique attributes, described
below, its potential as a major protected area, and one of the two most
important ecotourism destinations in Natal and one of the ten most important
such destinations in the country. 12

The issue of prospecting and mining leases on the eastern shores

Prospecting leases were issued for portions of the State land (i.e. land in public
ownership) on the Eastern Shores between 1972 and 1975, and these were
Lake St Lucia 49

Aerial view of a portion of the Greater St Lucia WetIand Park near Cape Vidal, in the
vicinity of the area proposed for mining, showing the undeveloped coastline (marine
reserve), the steep coastal dune system, Lake Bhangazi South in the near background, and
Lake St Lucia in the far background.
(Photograph: Natal Parks Board)

An aerial view of a portion of the coastal strip in the Park showing a wetIand maintained in
part by seepage from the coastal dune system in the right foreground; savanna on a relict
dune in the left foreground, and hydromorphic grasslands surrounding Lake St Lucia in
the far left background.
(Photograph: Natal Parks Board)
50 Lake St Lucia

acquired by Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in 1976, and in 1989, that company
applied for a mining lease for the three prospecting leases. 13
When applications were lodged for prospecting leases in the early seventies,
it was not customary for an authority responsible for an area of public land (in
that instance the Department of Forestry) to consult public opinion about the
need and desirability of a prospecting lease being issued for the area. In terms
of the Mining Rights Act No 20 of 1967 that was in force at the time, the issue
of a mining permit was a formality should viable mineral deposit be discovered
(and certain other basic requirements be satisfied) in a lease area. There was no
legislation then (or at present) that makes provision for a mandatory environ­
mental impact assessment to be undertaken for significant development
proposal. 14 Consequently, although consultations took place, between the then
Department of Mines, the NPB and the Wildlife Society, the prospecting leases
were issued, and the event passed virtually unnoticed by the public at

Formation of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park

The first public announcement that dredge mining on the coastal dune system
of the Eastern Shores was being considered was made in 1989. The then
Minister of Environment Affairs simultaneously announced the formation of a
major protected area, now known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park ('the
park'), and transfer of custody of the ESSF from the Forestry Branch to the
Natal Provincial Administration for management by the Board and incorpora­
tion of the area in the park. The new park was to consist of the St Lucia Game
Reserve and other adjacent protected areas that had long been in the custody of
the Board, together with extensive areas of State forest. In addition, portions of
privately-owned land were to be acquired to link Mkuzi Game Reserve to the
protected areas surrounding the lake (See Map 1).
These developments realised the dream of many conservationists of
establishing a large protected area which would conserve representative
ecosystems of the southern Maputaland plain lying between the Lebombo
mountains and the sea. Also brought to fruition was the concept of manage­
ment of the Greater St Lucia area by a single authority, as envisaged by the St
Lucia Commission of Enquiry.

Initial appraisal and the decision to undertake the EIA

RBM decided to apply for a mining lease in 1989, and in the same year the
company commissioned an environmental appraisal. The consultants commis­
sioned to undertake the study organized a so-called 'scoping meeting' with
representatives of various environmental organizations and the mining compa­
ny, in July 1989. The draft impact appraisal was completed and circulated to
various interested parties in September of the same year. Public meetings were
held shortly afterwards to enable the consultants to explain details of the
mining proposal. A public uproar ensued, and several petitions opposing the
mining were organized. A total of 222 667 signatures was obtained and the
results submitted to the then government.
In response to the petitions, the cabinet instructed that a comprehensive EIA
should be undertaken, following the principles of 'Integrated Environmental
Management' (IEM) as far as possible.1 5
Lake St Lucia 51

Undertaking the eastern shores EIA

Originally, the purpose of the procedure initiated at the end of 1989 was to
investigate the impacts of the proposed mining on the physical, social and
economic environments, following integrated environmental management
(IEM) principles. This purpose was subsequently amended in 1990, partly as a
result of motivation provided by the NPB, to determine which of two land use
options was the most appropriate for the Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia. The
two options were mining, with nature conservation and tourism where feasible
('the mining option'), or nature conservation and tourism without mining ('the
non-mining option'). 16 The value of the area for settlement was also to be
determined at the issues level, but settlement was not considered a potential
primary land use. There were several reasons for this, including the official
policy of the government of the day (the area is State land), and the assessed
low potential of the area for agriculture. 17
The process continued until the end of 1993, and was claimed to be one of
the most comprehensive EIAs ever undertaken, in this country or elsewhere. A
co-ordinating committee was established by the DEA to set policy and overall
co-ordination of the process, and ensure that the investigation was of
appropriate quality and scope. An assessment management committee was
appointed to manage the process. An independent review panel, chaired by Mr
Justice Ramon Leon, was also appointed to review the process and the final
reports, to assess public opinion, and to submit a recommendation to the
cabinet as to which land use for the area was considered to be the most
The consultants that had been appointed to undertake the initial environ­
mental appraisal were re-commissioned by RBM to undertake the EIA.
However, after completion of the specialist reports, new consultants (Environ­
mental Services of the CSIR) were appointed as principal consultants to
finalise the procedure. In total, five reports were produced by the consul­
One hundred and twenty interested and affected parties (I & APs) were
recognised, from which fourteen Lead I & APs (L I & APs) were appointed,
who were considered to reflect the majority of the viewpoints held by the
remainder. The Lead I & APs were involved to a considerably greater extent in
the process. In order to make provision for local interests, other measures such
as a rural liaison programme were implemented.
The mining company which holds the prospecting lease, RBM, and NPB (as
custodian of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, including the ESSF), were
recognised both as L I & APs and as the proponents of the mining and
non-mining options respectively.

Summary of the NPB's contribution to the EIA procedure

The principal objectives of the Board were to endeavour to ensure that the
values, advantages and impacts of the nature conservation and tourism land use
option were accurately, adequately and equitably represented throughout the
procedure. This entailed a number of actions and a great deal of time and
expense, involving both board members and staff at all levels, during the four
years of the process.
The NPB took a formal policy decision that it was opposed in principle to the
proposal to mine on the Eastern Shores, because of the value of the area for
nature conservation and tourism and the risks associated with the possibility of
52 Lake St Lucia

A portion of Lake Bhangazi South, near Cape Vidal, just north of the northern limit of the
prospecting lease area. This is one of the freshwater lakes of the Park that occur in
depressions in close vicinity to and on the landward side of the coastal dune barrier. These
lakes have small catchments, and replenishment is largely from ground water seepage,
some of which is derived from the coastal dune system. These lakes are nutrient-poor
because of the predominantly leach sandy nature of the substrate, and are sensitive to
eutrophication of any nature.
(Photograph: Natal Parks Board)
Lake St Lucia 53

mining in this sensitive environment. It also committed itself to full participa­

tion in the procedure, and agreed to accept the eventual recommendations
arising from the procedure.
Emphasis was placed on the formation of the new expanded protected area,
to be known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, which was to include the
eastern shores, and the many advantages that the new park would bring to the
national nature conservation programme, and to the tourism industry. It was
emphasized that these advantages would accrue at national and regional as well
as at local levels.
The principal actions taken by the NPB throughout the four years duration of
the process comprised the following:
Administrative role
• The Chief Executive and Head of Planning served on the co-ordinating
• Regular monthly reports were made by Head of Planning to the conservation.
committee of the NPB' s board, chaired by the Deputy Chairman, who in turn
reported to the full board on progress with the process, and contributions
made on behalf of the board.
• Formal submissions were made to the Administrator of Natal and to the
government on the stance of the NPB.
Public participation role
• The issue of formal public statements in opposition to the mining.
• Numerous public addresses were made and articles were published by staff,
outlining the position of the Board and the contributions being made by it
towards completion of the process.
• NPB staff hosted field visits and made presentations to members of both the
co-ordinating committee and the review panel.
• A paper was read at an international symposium, to be published in the
proceedings, on the stance of the NPB, and the advantages and disadvant­
ages of the two land use options.

Technical role
• NPB provided details of all aspects of its existing and planned programmes
for the Eastern Shores component of the new park, and the relevance of
these to the management of the entire park, to the consultants.
• NPB staff participated in a programme of workshops on a series of specific
key issues such as draft mitigation and rehabilitation plans, the economics of
ecotourism, dune stratigraphy, the transport of heavy metal concentrate
(HMC) and prospects of the mining company acquiring servitudes for HMC
transport pipelines over NPB-protected areas outside the prospecting lease
• All reports and publications of the consultants were reviewed in depth, and
written comments which were approved by the Board were submitted to the
consultants. The reports concerned included the twenty-three Specialist
Reports (VoI.1), fourteen Key Issue Reports, the Environmental Impact
Report (VoI.3) and the Final Report (Vol.4).
• As a result of the NPB's in-depth reviews, a number of the consultants'
reports were found to be inadequate and flawed. The consultants undertook
further studies and issued subsequent reports, to remedy deficiencies. Three

54 Lake St Lucia

in-depth review reports were published by the NPB, namely on the

Specialist Reports, the Environmental Impact Report, and the Final Report.
These were submitted to the official committees involved, as well as to the
Review Panel.
• Finally, both the Board Chairman and the Chief Executive made presenta­
tions on behalf of the Board to Mr Justice Leon' s Review Panel at the public
hearings which lasted for six days in November, 1993.
The overall contribution made by the Board was thus of very substantial
proportions, but this was considered to be warranted because of the importance
of the area for nature conservation and ecotourism.
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park's importance for nature
conservation and tourism
It is not the intention of this paper to more than briefly summarise the
importance of the park for nature conservation and tourism. In essence, the
significance of the park for nature conservation is such that the NPB considers
that it is one of only two areas in Natal (and about ten sites in the country, and
less than one hundred sites world-wide) that merits consideration for admit­
tance to the World Heritage List.
The World Heritage Convention is administered by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It has not been
possible for South Africa to become a signatory to the Convention because of
the politics of the past. It is expected, however, that re-admittance to the
United Nations, and therefore UNESCO, which followed the April 1994
elections, would result in the country also being invited to become a signatory
to the convention. IX
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN - the World
Conservation Union) published an inventory of prospective world heritage
sites (WHS).IY The greater St Lucia area was listed then as a potential world
heritage site. The World Heritage Convention has specified four criteria for
selection as a WHS and, according to the IUCN's inventory, the prospective St
Lucia site was expected to qualify under all four criteria. The NPB has
completed and submitted a nomination proposal for the park, and it trusts that
this would appear to be the case.
One of the criteria requires that the nominated site 'contains the most
important and significant natural habitats for in situ conservation of biological
diversity, including those threatened species of outstanding universal value
from the point of view of science or conservation'. Some of the reasons why it
is believed that the park meets this criterion are as follows: Maputaland, in
which the park occurs, has been described as the centre of endemism. This
regional species pool is considered to be both species-rich as well as to contain
an unusually large number of endemic species. It is considered to be the centre
of one of the most remarkable areas of biodiversity for its size in the world. Not
only are the numbers of endemics high, but they are spread over virtually the
entire taxonomic spectrum. It is possible that nowhere else in the world are so
many rare plants and animals concentrated in such a small area. Part of the
reason for the high levels of biodiversity present is the location of the region at
the interface between tropical and subtropical and temperate biotas, as well as
the complexity of this transition, in a situation where communities occur in
mosaics of differing floristic and faunistic affinities. Many species from
several taxonomic groups reach the southern or northern limits of their natural
distribution within the park.
Lake St Lucia 55

One of the principal distinguishing features of the park is the great variety of
habitat types present in a relatively restricted area. It conserves within this area
a representative sample of the habitat types and biota of the centre comprising
a complete cross-section of the southern extremity of the Maputaland coastal
plain, from the Lebombo mountains to the coast. An extensive section of the
coastline itself in included. Two marine reserves protect the entire coast and
the continental shelf to a distance of five km out to sea. The plant formations
and associations present in the park range from dry savanna on eutrophic soils
to swamp forests on dystrophic sands, freshwater swamp communities com­
prising Phragmites and Papyrus swamps, riparian forest to saline mangrove
forests, dry· forest on sands to moist forest on recent coastal dune systems. 20
The shallows of Lake St Lucia and the offshore marine reefs sustain huge
concentrations of larval and juvenile marine life, including fish, prawns, crabs
and other life forms.21 The lake and other estuaries of the park play a vital role
in the provision of shelter and feeding grounds for some adults and these
juvenile life forms. Lake St Lucia, by virtue of its size, is the most significant
nursery area on the entire east coast of South Africa. 22 It is also visited by a
greater proportion of large adult fish for both breeding and feeding purposes,
including a number of economically-important species, than any other estua­
rine system in Natal.
The park is large by South African standards (approximately 260 000 ha in
extent). It is the third largest protected area in the country and is nearly two and
a half times the minimum size considered to be necessary for the long-term
conservation of natural communities.

Table 1 Notes on the status of the selected taxonomic groups present in the
Greater St Lucia Wetland Park

Groups Status

Taxonomic groups Number CITES Red data Natal Endemicity

of Appendix 1 book importance
species or 11 rating rating

Intl. SA Cons Use SA Natal

Terrestrial flowering c.1ooo 3 - 3 2 2 8 8

Terrestrial mammals 95 15 1 22 33 8 3 1
Marine mammals 5 1 5 - - - - -
Birds 521 72 - 59 42 - 4 -
Reptiles . 109 - 9 17 16 3 20 2
Amphihia 50 - - 2 9 - 10 5
Freshwater fish 51 - 6 14 17 6 5 4

Totals 1 831 91 21 117 119 19 50 20

56 Lake Sf Lucia

Table provides a summary of selected taxonomic groups present in the

park, the number of species present in the park for each group,the number of
species listed in the CITES Convention Appendices I or 11, the number of
species listed as threatened on the International and South African Red Data
Books, and the number of endemic species. As indicated, of a total of the
estimated 2 000 species present in seven groups, 91 are listed in CITES
appendices, 21 species are listed as threatened in International Red Data
Books and 114 species on SA Red Data Books, while 50 species are listed as
South African species and no less than 20 are listed as Natal endemic
In summary, it is contended that the park is a protected area of international
importance. Its significance is, however, not restricted to nature conservation
considerations. The area has also been identified as one of the most important
tourism and ecotourism destinations in Natal, and one of the ten most
important ecotourism destinations in the country. 23
It is also contended that the ESSF forms a natural component of the park, by
virtue of its geographical position, as the southern gateway to the park, as well
as the unique natural communities present.
A draft ecotourism development plan for the ESSF has been approved by the
NPB. 24 This plan identifies nineteen new potential development nodes for the
area. The ESSF is considered to have a high potential for the provision of
ecotourism facilities, because of the high quality of the resource base.
The central sector of the park has never been subjected to any intensive form
of occupatory use, and largely retains its primitive wild character. This is the
only remaining wilderness on the entire east coast of the country. This
wilderness is thus considered to have considerable rarity value.

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

These reports concluded that the proposed mining would cause international,
national, regional and local impacts. A summary of the predicted impacts is
provided in Table 2.
The conclusions and recommendations of the report appear to be based ()fl
two assumptions, the first being that the mineral resources of the Kingsa/Tojan
Lease Area were not substitutable, and the second that the ecotourism
development planned for the Eastern Shores could take place elsewhere in the
park, or Natal.
The authors concluded that while the mining operation would have negative
impacts, damage to the environment would not be irreparable (i.e. mitigation
would be possible) except in the relatively narrow confines of the lease area.
Most significantly, they considered the economic benefits of the mining
operation carried out in conjunction with nature conservation and tourism,
would be significantly greater than that of nature conservation and tourism
without the mining. The question was posed: 'Would South Africans be
willing to pay (in other words forego by not mining) between R66 million
and R247 million in order to avoid the predicted impacts on the environ­
The authors also concluded that it is highly likely that land rights will be
restored to previous occupants (black rural communities) of at least part of the
Eastern Shores, which mayor may not involve resettlement.
Lake Sf Lucia 57

Table 2 Summary of predicted impacts of the proposed dune mining:

Eastern Shores Environmental Impact Assessment

Scale of Impact Summary of Predicted Impact

International scale • Economic impacts on feedstock supply to a major

global market.
• Negative impacts on perceptions of the St Lucia sub­
region as a wild place or wilderness.

National scale • Negative impacts on people's sense of place.

• Positive impact of the additional contribution of mining
to the economy, heightened by a five year increase in
life of the smelter plant. .

Regional scale • High economic benefit.

Local scale • High negative (irreversible) impacts on the dune

• Moderately negative impacts on certain animal species
in the mine path, which would affect overall population
sizes on the ESSF.
• Moderately negative impacts on tourists visiting the
area in the short term.
• Very high negative visual impacts caused by Ipining
plant during the period of mining.

CSIR. After Eastern Shores Environmental Impact Report.

The reports make recommendations in respect of both the two land use options,
but the tenor of these are that there are no strong reasons, other than sentiment,
why the government should prevent the mining. It is clear that the authors of
the report consider that it was feasible that the mining and the nature
conservation and tourism programme could continue in parallel. This recom­
mendation stems partly from the finding that the St Lucia environment will not
suffer irreparable or unacceptable damage, other than in the narrow confines of
the mine path. It also stems from the assessment of the economics of the two
land-use options, which purport to show that the economic benefits of the
mining are of such a magnitude that they should not be ignored. Doubts are
cast on the viability of the ecotourism programme of the Natal Parks Board,
specifically on the overall scale of the development proposed, and on the
ability of the Board to attract the necessary capital to undertake the develop­
ment proposed.
There is acknowledgement that the mining company lacks the technology to
recreate the dune topography, and to re-establish the diversity of vegetation
types present in the mining path, but these are not seen by the authors as
potential causes of 'irreparable damage', should the rehabilitation programme
not prove to be successful.
58 Lake St Lucia

The NPB's reaction

Criticisms of the ElR and final reports
The NPB rejected the findings and conclusions of the EIR and Final Report. It
considered that the authors were biased in favour of the mining. Some of the
principal criticisms of the Board were the following:
• There were critical omissions and shortcomings in the study.
• The assessments that were made of a number of impacts, were considered
• Levels of certainty and risks had been omitted, or not given due attention.
• The analysis of land use alternatives was considered to require revision, by,
inter alia the employment of social welfare criteria.
• The definitions of 'irreparable damage' were unacceptable.
• The potential impacts of mining on biodiversity and the significance of these
had not been addressed.
• The diversity and functioning of wetland systems, and the potential impacts
of mining thereon, and their significance, were not adequately addressed.
• Rehabilitation requirements, uncertainties, and associated risks were not
adequately addressed.
• The economic analysis of the two land use options (especially that of the
nature conservation-tourism land use option) required revision.

It was considered that the question of need and desirability, especially in

respect of the mining proposal, had not been adequately addressed. In respect
of need, it was noted that alternative ore bodies do exist (e.g. in the Port
Durnford State Forest, which lies closer to the processing plant than the ESSF).
It was also pointed out that the company has ore reserves to last it for an
estimated two further decades, and that it is not imperative in the national
interest that the mining lease be granted now.
It was noted that the reports had found that there is an urgent need for
ecotourism development within the region, acceptance that the park has an
important role to play in providing a highly desirable resource base to support a
regional ecotourism industry, and that extensive ecotourism development
should take place there. However, the NPB was critical that the reports had
found that the proposed mining would have no impact on ecotourism at a
national level, and that alternative development sites within the region (or the
park) are available. The NPB objected strongly to the suggestion that an
alternative location for ecotourism development within the park was the central
Ozabeni wilderness zone north of Cape Vidal.
The NPB was also critical of the fact that the reports make no mention of the
eligibility of the park for World Heritage Site status.
The NPB considered that the benefits of the mining had been exaggerated in
the economic analysis of the Reports.
One of the major criticisms of the overall environmental impact report was
that the authors had failed to qualify their recommendations by providing a
comprehensive list of uncertainties and risks on the impacts of the proposed
Finally, it was contended that the need and desirability to mine on the
Eastern Shores has not been demonstrated, and that no mining in this special
place should be contemplated. It was considered that the conservative
approach, which is appropriate when considering the introduction of a radical
land use such as mining in ecosystems as sensitive and important as those of
Lake St Lucia 59

St Lucia, would be for the numerous uncertainties and risks first to be more
comprehensively investigated and assessed than has so far been possible.
Included in such investigations would be the capacity of the company to
restore the mined area, the availability of alternative mining sites, the relative
economic benefits of mining and ecotourism, questions of the water supplies
and water economy of the mining proposal, the attitude of the international
community to a mine located within a Ramsar site, and others. These critical
issues had not been addressed in the report.

There are good grounds for the contention that the nature conservation and
tourism (non-mining) land use option is appropriate in all respects for the long
term conservation of Lake St Lucia and its surrounds. The benefits of this land
use are many, and the few negative impacts can be fully mitigated.
The nature conservation and tourism land use option will provide sustainable
benefits at international, national and regional levels - the benefits at re­
gionallevel are at least comparable to competitive land use options. The many
benefits, including employment opportunities, will largely accrue at the level
of the subregion.
The recommendation of the review panel that no mining should be permitted
on the eastern shores, should be strongly supported.

I acknowledge with thanks comments and suggestions made by Mr R Porter of the Planning
Division of NPB.


I. Ecotourism is the particular form of tourism related to the enjoyment and appreciation of natural
areas. Ceballos-Lascuarin defines ecotourism as 'travelling to relatively undisturbed or unconta­
mined natural areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery
and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations (both past and
present) found in these areas'. Cited in E. Boo, Ecotourism: the potentials and pitfalls (World
Wildlife Fund, 1990).
2. G. Dominy, . History of Lake St Lucia eastern shores', in: Environmental impact assessmenT.
Eastern Shores (If Lake Sf Lucia, Vo!. I, Pt. I, Specialist reports (Grahamstown, Coastal and
Environmental Services, 1992), pp.424-45. [Hereafter mAl
3. A. Delegorgue, Travels in southern Africa (trans. F. Webb), (Durhan and Pietermaritzburg,
KCAL and UNP, 1990).
4. S. Brooks et ai, 'Comments on Dominy (1992): History of Lake St Lucia eastern shores',
(mimeo. NPB, 1993).
5. B. Ellis, 'Game conservation in Zululand (1824-1947), (unpub. BA Hons thesis, Univ. Natal,
Pietermaritzhurg, 1975.
6. See Brooks et ai, 'Comments on Dominy'.
7. l. Pringle, The conservationisTS and the killers: the story of game protection and the Wildlife
Society o{Sollthern Africa (Cape Town. T. V. Bulpin and Books of Africa, 19R2), p.129.
8. S.l. Frost, 'Lake St Lucia: Puhlic opinion, environmental issues and the position of the
government, 1964-1966 to 1989-1990: a case study in changing attitudes to conservation'
(unpub. thesis. Univ. Natal. Pietcrmaritzburg, 1990).
9. Republic of South Africa, Report ollhe commission of enquiry, into the alleged Threat to lInimal
and plant lire in Lake St Lucia (Pretoria. Government Printer, 1966).
10. Ibid.
11. Department of Environment Affairs (DEA), Polic), STatement F,r the eastern shores mine
(Pretoria, 1982).
60 Lake St Lucia

12. l.P. Butler Adam and M.l. Haynes, 'St Lucia: the sense of place' in EIA, Vol.l, Pt. I,
pp. 693-734. See also Ministry for Administration and Tourism, White paper on tourism
(Pretoria, SA Tourism Board, 1992).
13. EIA, Vo!. 3, (Pretoria, CSIR, 1993) - see introduction.
14. DEA, The integrated environmental impact management procedure (Pretoria, 1992).
15. A. M. A vis, 'Climate, soils and land use potential', in EIA, Vo!. I, Pt. I, pp. 169-85.
16. See EIA, Vol. 3, introduction.
17. A vis, 'Climate, soils and land use potential'.
18. IUCN, World heritage treaty twenty years later, IVth World Congress on National Parks and
Protected Areas, Caracas, Venezuela (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and
Natural Resources, Gland, Switzerland, 1992).
19. IUCN, The world's greatest natural areas: an indicative inventory (~t natural sites of world
heritaf(e quality Commission on National Parks and Protected areas, (Gland, TUCN, 1985).
20. P. Goodrnan, personal communication, 1994.
21. l. H. Wallace and R. P. van der Elst, 'The estuarine fishes of South Africa', IV, Investigational
report (!(the Oceanographic Research Institute, 42, 1975, pp. 1-63.
22. S.l.M. Blaber, 'The estuarine fishes of Maputaland' in M.N. Bruton and K.H. Cooper (eds),
Studies on the ecology ot Maputaland (Graharnstown, Rhodes Univ. and Wildlife Society ­
Natal Branch, 1980).
23. White paper on tourism, p. 18.
24. W. R. Bainbridge et ai, Outdoor recreation and tourism facilities development plan: Eastern
Shores State Forest and environs (Pietermaritzburg, NPB, 1991).
Of Mountains and Money
Bergwatch and threats to the Drakensberg
The wild splendour of the Drakensberg is under constant threat from a variety
of sources. The primary threats come from two opposite ends of the economic
scale - poverty-stricken subsistence farmers attempting to eke out a living on'
the sparsely vegetated and fragile slopes, and avaricious developers attempting
to cater for ever-growing demands of the national and latterly international
tourist trade. Environmental degradation from poor farming methods is far
more obvious to the untrained eye than the damage caused by extensive hotel,
resort and timeshare development.
Scarred mountainsides are often the result of decades of overgrazing,
particularly by goats. But poor farming methods are not the only cause of soil
erosion. Poor road design and overuse of sensitive areas by hikers, horses or
motor vehicles, are also contributory factors. Even the destruction of wetlands
by the damming of small mountain streams may lead to excessive run-off and
thereby contribute to soil erosion.
Resort development inevitably increases pressure on the water resources,
firstly by increasing demand and secondly by pollution. It also tends to impair
the scenic beauty and to threaten the wilderness nature of the Drakensberg.
With all these factors already becoming apparent, a bold policy statement on
development in the Drakensberg was published seventeen years ago, aimed at
channelling future development to appropriate zones in order to ensure
protection of the vital water-producing areas and other valuable natural
resources. I
The Drakensberg Policy Statement divided the Drakensberg into four zones:
the Wilderness Heart, the Landslide Zone, the Trail Zone and the Drakensberg
Threshold. 2
There is little dispute that the Wilderness Heart and the Landslide Zone
should be strictly protected and accommodation limited to caves, tents and
mountain huts. The dispute between environmentalists and developers centres
on the lower-lying and least ecologically fragile Trail Zone and Drakensberg
Threshold, which together are known as the Drakensberg Approaches. Accord­
ing to the 1976 Policy Statement, the approaches to the Drakensberg should be
used primarily for agriculture and forestry. The rainfall is high, and this area
should also be a source of clean water in the rivers. Recreation should be an
important secondary activity where it is compatible with the primary uses.
Preservation of the scenic quality of the area should influence the location and
appearance of all roads, buildings and other structures. 3 The document
recommends that within the Threshold Zone there will be planned recreational
development within certain 'pockets'.

Natalia 23 and 24 (1993/94), J. White pp. 61-67

62 Of Mountains and Money

The document specifically requires that the optimum carrying capacity of

each 'pocket' for visitors must be determined through further scientific
research. 4
The document recommends that any tendency towards the development of
further permanent residential townships should be resisted - these belong in
the established villages like Bergville, Himeville and Underberg. 5
In 1990 a second major document was published6 • 'The Drakensberg
Approaches Policy' introduced the concept of high intensity development areas
within three nodes of the Drakensberg Approaches, and pinpointed these as
Babangibone in the north, Garden Castle in the south and Cathkin in the
Central Drakensberg.
Not only was the concept of high intensity development introduced, but the
nodes are not strictly limited to the less sensitive Approaches and edge into the
Landslide Zone at various points.
The distinction between optimum carrying capacity as envisaged in the 1976
Policy Statement and high intensity development as envisaged in the 1990
Approaches Policy, together with the failure of the planners to establish
parameters for determining optimum carrying capacity, has meant that nobody
has known when to put the brakes on development.
The carrying capacity of the Garden Castle and Babangibone nodes is
examined in a report by Willem van Riet. 7 For the purposes of the study, the
availability of water was deemed to be the most important limiting factor when
probing the ecological carrying capacity of an area. R
Specifically, Van Riet noted that no provision had yet been made for a
hydrological study of the Garden Castle node. Consequently, findings pertain­
ing to the recreational carrying capacity of Garden Castle were incomplete. 9 In
respect of Babangibone, he tentatively proposed a total carrying capacity of
760 people.
But even there the report is not conclusive: 'The determination of a definite
carrying capacity remains elusive and is further complicated in this case by
variables such as bed occupancy levels, and seasonal fluctuations in patronage.
A range of carrying capacities has been determined based on physical site
constraints and building norms, a deductive aesthetic norm and the ecolo­
gically based and pragmatic limiting factor of water supply and demand. The
lowest ecologically based carrying capacity could be increased with the
construction of water storage dams by the individual developers.'
In the Babangibone node, four privately owned tourist enterprises already
exist: Little Switzerland Hotel and Timeshare, The Cavern, Hlahlanati Resort
and Karos Mont aux Sources Hotel and Timeshare. In other words, Baban­
gibone, the least developed of the three nodes, has apparently reached its
ecological carrying capacity already. One wonders whether hydrological
studies of Cathkin or Garden Castle will reveal that they too have already
exhausted their carrying capacity.
At this stage we are still talking only of water. The optimum carrying
capacity of the Drakensberg Approaches could well take into consideration the
wilderness aspect of the mountain range as a whole.
The importance of wilderness cannot be ignored. The time has come, with
the brutalising pressure of a spreading metropolitan civilization, to recognise
wilderness environment as a human need rather than a luxury and plaything,
says noted conservationist lan Player. Furthermore, he says, it should be
considered a public utility and therefore its commercialisation should not be
tolerated. With this in mind, the question arises whether optimum carrying
Of Mountains and Money 63

Suggested appropriate accommodation for the Berg region.

(Illustration: Bergwatch)

capacity is a concept that can be calculated on the basis of scientific data alone,
or whether the optimum carrying capacity of the Drakensberg development
nodes should properly be determined only after extensive public debate. 10
The policy statements are used as a guide by the authorities in deciding
whether to approve or disapprove a proposed development. Section 11 of the
Town Planning Ordinance ll requires a potential developer to submit a Need
and Desirability application in respect of land that is not subject to the
provisions of a town planning scheme. Such application is considered by the
Premier of Natal on the advice of the Town and Regional Planning Commis­
sion. Where a town planning scheme exists or is in the process of preparation,
the potential developer usually has to make application for the rezoning of his
property, in terms of Section 47bis of the Ordinance. Although the initial
application for rezoning is heard by the local authority, any aggrieved party
may appeal to the Town and Regional Planning Commission against the
decision. The final say therefore remains with the Commission.
But where does the authority of the 1990 Approaches Policy stem from? The
two policy statements were developed at the instance of the Town and
Regional Planning Commission. The 1976 document became planning policy
at the time when Natal still had a Provincial Council, so it may be assumed that
it had the tacit if not express support of the elected representatives of the white
The status of the 1990 document is more questionable. During the early
1980s the Town and Regional Planning Commission established the Drakens­
64 Of Mountains and Money

berg Working Group to advise the Commission on policy for the long-term
conservation of the Drakensberg and development proposals for ecotourism
in the Drakensberg Approaches. Represented on the Working Group were
various state and quasi-government organisation or departments, such as the
Department of Agriculture, the Natal Parks Board, the Physical Planning
Directorate and the Department of Forestry (prior to the transfer of State
forests to the Natal Parks Board). KwaZulu was later represented on the
Working Group.
The 1990 document was approved by this Working Group, with no direct
public participation or support. By that time, the direct accountability of the
planners to Natal's white electorate had disappeared with the demise of the
Natal Provincial Council in 1986.
A further problem associated with the conservation/development debate in
the Drakensberg is that the Drakensberg does not fall under one planning
authority. Most of the higher reaches (the Drakensberg Park) fall under the
control of the Natal Parks Board. Lesotho and QwaQwa control vast areas of
wilderness. Large areas of subsistence farming fell under the KwaZulu
Government until 27 April 1994 when all land formerly under its control was
placed under the direct control of the Zulu King.'2 In addition, the Thukela
Joint Services Board claims to be the lawful planning authority for the
Northern Berg. The Department of Agriculture has the final say over agricul­
tural land.
Laws that are applicable to the Drakensberg include the Physical Planning
Act, the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, the Subdivision of Land
Act, the Water Act, the Environment Conservation Act, the Mountain Catch­
ment Areas Act, the National Roads Act, the Nature Conservation Ordinance
and the Town Planning Ordinance.
The Natal Town and Regional Planning Commission can therefore operate
only to a limited degree in planning and controlling development. Conse­
quently it is not surprising that the planning of the Drakensberg is not always
what it should be. For many visitors to the Drakensberg, the plethora of resort
and timeshare developments in the Cathkin area is the most striking display of
unsatisfactory planning.
Alerted by developments beginning to mushroom at Cathkin, a coalition of
individuals and environmental groups formed under the banner of Bergwatch
in 1991 to promote the preservation of the Drakensberg. The organisations in
the coalition include the Wildlife Society of South Africa, the Wilderness
Leadership School, Earthlife Africa, the Drakensberg Resorts Association and
the Central Drakensberg Association.
In 1992 Bergwatch presented the Town and Regional Planning Commission
with detailed recommendations regarding the two policy statements, and
Bergwatch was invited to serve on the Drakensberg Working Group the same
year. 13
The essence of Bergwatch's proposals is that the development nodes should
be situated further away from the Drakensberg, thereby reducing pressure on
the water resources and the wilderness aspect. Pending a re-evaluation of
planning policy, Bergwatch has consistently called for a moratorium on all
future development in the Drakensberg, and emphasised the need for a single
Drakensberg Authority to promote holistic planning.
The Bergwatch proposals are in summary that the boundaries of the
development nodes should be extended further to the south-east and all new
Of Mountains and Money 65


Suggested traditional style accommodation structures.

(Illustration: Ber)! watch)

lUxury developments should occur there - outside the existing boundaries of

the nodes .
Bergwatch proposes that the present threshold zone should be re-designated
as a rural or 'buffer' zone allowing for the following activities:
1. Communal grazing for indigenous farmers;
2. Rural-style development which would include upgrading of existing build­
ings where practicable as well as guest-houses, tented camps, camp sites
and Natal Parks Board-type cottages ;
3. Farming activities and encouraging the biosphere concept;
4. Wilderness-reliant activities such as photography, hiking, camping, fishing,
bird-watching and riding.
Since the formation of Bergwatch, there have been no formal changes in
official planning policy on the Drakensberg, but the Commission has briefed a
private firm of town planners to prepare controls for the Drakensberg
nodes . 14
The key issues identified by the Commission are: waste disposal, aesthetic
control, development intensity, layout add design, recreation provision, en­
vironmental management, legislative considerations, economic aspects and
administrative considerations.
The last of these issues is perhaps the most important of all, given the
changing political situation in South Africa. The brief points out that the

Nara lia _ E
66 Of Mountains and Money

multiplicity of administrative bodies presently undermines effective co­

ordination, implementation and monitoring of control measures, and states
that it is necessary to investigate an alternative form of administration that
would facilitate rather than hinder this.
'The effectiveness of an overarching administrative body along the same
lines as the Tennessee Valley Authority should be compared to (a) the
adoption and commitment to an intergrated environmental management
philosphy by the existing administrative bodies and (b) encouraging local
initiative. An appropriate and effective administrative structure in the
Drakensberg should be assessed in terms of its accountability, acceptibility
and its ability to implement, monitor and review development in the
Drakensberg on an ongoing basis.'
The Drakensberg Working Group at the instance of Bergwatch has
recommended to the Town and Regional Planning Commission that a
conservative approach to all future applications by developers should be
adopted, on the basis that any new development at this stage will irreversibly
limit the planning options for the future.
Nevertheless, developers are not sitting idle. There are plans to build a
cable-car to the top of the Amphitheatre, and to have regular helicopter
flights to the top of Mont-aux-Sources. Illegal developments at Little
Switzerland were given approval retrospectively; and illegal developments
on a farm near Little Switzerland were halted only by the intervention of
Bergwatch. Their future still hangs in the balance.
The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP),15 the Bill of
Rights 16 and the creation of a Government of National Unity after the elections
of 27 April 1994 suggest that a new spirit is in the air. Environmental rights are
entrenched in the Constitution. Article 29 reads: 'Every person shall have the
right to an environment which is not detrimental to his or her health or
well-being.' Article 23 reads: 'Every person shall have the right of access to all
information held by the state or any of its organs at any level of government in
so far as such information is required for the exercise or protection of any of
his or her rights.'
The RDP expands on these basic rights, promotes community participation
in decision-making, requires compulsory environmental impact assessments
for all large-scale projects, and demands the establishment of an environmental
Anyone who cares about the Drakensberg now has the means to do
something about its conservation. It will no longer be an excuse to complain
that the developers are too powerful and that big money will always defeat the
interests of the environment.


I. A. J. Phelan, 'Drakensherg Policy Statement' (Town and Regional Planning Commission, 1976).
2. Ibid. p.9.
3. Ibid. p. 17.
4. Ibid. p. 19.
5. Ibid.p.19.
6. B. F. Martin, 'Drakensherg Approaches Policy' (Town and Regional Planning Commission, 1990).
7. W. Van Riet, 'Development Control Scheme for the Natal Drakensberg Babangibone Development
Node; (Town and Regional Planning Commission, 1992).
8. Ibid. p. 28.
Of Mountains and Money 67

9. Ibid. p. SO.
10. lan Player and Jim Feeley, 'Fundamentals of the Wilderness Concept.' (Unpublished adaptation
from 'Wildlife Management' by Trippersee, an American publication).
11. Natal Town Planning Ordinance No.27 of 1949 as amended.
12. KwaZulu Ingonyama Trust Act NO.3 of 1994.
13. 'Bergwatch Recommendations Regarding Existing Drakensberg Policy Statements' (Unpubl­
ished, 1992).
14. H. Epstein, 'Project Brief for the Preparation of Development Controls for Drakensberg Nodes'
(Physical Planning Directorate, Natal Provincial Administration ref. R2.S.5/R7.3.9 (D) 17/2/3/8,
October 1992). .
15. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (African National Congress, 1994).
16. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act No.200 of 1993, Chapter 3.

Gandhi's Natal
The State of the Colony in 1893

At approximately 9 p.m. on the night of 7 June 1893 Mohandas Karamchand

Gandhi was ejected from a Natal Government Railways train when it made a
routine stop at Pietermaritzburg station en route into the interior. The
circumstances surrounding this event are well-known. Gandhi was then nearly
twenty-four years of age and had completed his law studies in London two
years previou;ly. He had arrived in Natal from India on 23 May 1893 after
being instructed by a firm in Porbander, the place of his birth, to appear in a
case which was due to be heard in Pretoria. He was met at Durban by his client,
a businessman named Dada Abdulla, who provided him with a (first-class)
train ticket from Durban to the terminus at Charlestown on the Transvaal
border. At Pietermaritzburg the bed tickets were issued and a white passenger
objected to the presence of an Indian travelling overnight in the carriage. When
Gandhi steadfastly refused to move to third-class in the van he was forced out
of his compartment by the railway guard :md local police constable. l
The remaining hours of darkness spent in a chilly waiting-room at Pieter­
maritzburg station were the genesis of his resolve to resist racial injustices in
southern Africa and elsewhere by non-violent means. This strategy, as it
subsequently evolved, was to become synonymous with his name. As Gandhi
recalled, nearly forty-six years later, on the eve of his seventieth birthday in
I was afraid for my very life. I entered the dark waiting-room. There was
a white man in the room, I was afraid of him. What was my duty? I asked
myself. Should I go back to India, or should I go forward, with God as my
helper and face whatever was in store for me? I decided to stay and
suffer. My active non-violence began from that date. 2
The following morning he made his presence felt in the Colony by venturing
down town to the Post Office where he despatched a telegram of protest to Sir
David Hunter, General Manager of the Natal Government Railways. After
settling his case in Pretoria out of court, Gandhi returned to Natal and soon
became involved in its public life. In May 1894, when the Natal Indian
Congress was established, he became its first Secretary. In September of that
year the application for his admission as an advocate of the Supreme Court of
the Colony was successfully moved by Attorney-General Harry Escombe. In
one of its darker moments, the Natal Law Society opposed this application. It
questioned Gandhi' s certificates of character and of admission to the Bombay
and English Bar, and even argued that Natal's Rules of Court of 2 January 1893

Natalia 23 and 24 (1993/94). B. Guest pp. 68-75

Gandhi's Natal 69

The Hon. Sir JOHN ROBINSON, K . C. M . G . , M.L.A.

M. K. Gandhi as a young lawyer in the
controversial Bombay High Court
head-dress The first Premier 'of Natal , 1893
(Photograph: Durhan Local History Museum) (Photograph: Na/al Society Lihrary)

had never been intended 'to admit persons as Advocates or Attorneys of the
Supreme Court other than those of European extraction'. 3
Any lingering doubts about the strength of local racial prejudice must have
been firmly removed from Gandhi's mind . Undeterred, he remained in
southern Africa until 1914, with brief absences in 1896-7 and 1901-2.4 His
role in the history of the subcontinent during that period, and the formative
influence of that experience on his subsequent career, are the focus of other
contributions to this conference. What follows in this paper is a brief
examination of the state of the colony which in 1893-94 captured his attention
and so aroused his sense of injustice.
The inhabitants of Natal in 1893 may be forgiven for failing to recognise the
full historical significance of that year. For several reasons it was indeed
acknowledged at the time to mark a momentous milestone in the annals of the
Colony, but not for the removal of a young Indian from a 'first-class' railway
carriage at Pietermaritzburg station. In May the small white settler community
celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Natal's annexation by the British Crown
as a district of the Cape Colony. It was a status that the territory had retained
until 1856 when it became a separate colony with its own 'representative
government'. In the same month (May of 1893) a 'responsible government'
bill was passed by Natal 's Legislative Council with a slender majority, and in
July it received royal assent. 5 The last day of August marked the fiftieth
anniversary of the arrival in Pietermaritzburg of the first British troops. They
had camped on a hill at the western end of the town and on I September 1843
70 Gandhi's Natal

had begun to construct Fort Napier, named in honour of Sir George Napier,
Governor of the Cape Colony. It was an important event in the history of the
colonial capital, for the garrison not only provided a protective military
presence but played a significant part in the social and economic life of the
city and the surrounding rural districts until its eventual withdrawal in
1914. 6
The year 1893 was momentous also for the elections held in September for
the new Legislative Assembly under Natal's 'responsible government' consti­
tution. This body was voted in by a male and almost entirely white electorate in
terms of the Colony's non-racial franchise, whose property qualifications, in
the hands of local officials, effectively excluded most persons of colour.
Natal's attaintment of 'responsible government' status was part of a broader
imperial process. Each of the colonies of white settlement in Canada and
Australia acquired representative institutions, though their progress from
Crown rule to self-government within the British Empire varied in pace in
accordance with local circumstances. Closer at hand Natal had among its
neighbours the politically-independent Boer republics of the interior, as well as
the Cape Colony which had been entrusted with 'representative government' in
1853 and 'responsible government' in 1872.
It was no coincidence that Natal was one of the last British colonies with a
white settler population to reach the second of these constitutional milestones.
The Imperial Government had to weigh settler demands against the interests of
aboriginal populations in several of its overseas possessions, not least in Natal
where the colonists constituted such a small minority of the population. Many
white Natalians were reluctant to assume responsibility for their own internal
security and external defence in view of the Colony's large African population
and militarily intimidating Boer and Zulu neighbours. Those among them who
favoured 'responsible government' had to overcome several setbacks to that
cause, including the mismanaged Langalibalele crisis within the Colony during
the mid-1870s and British military defeats on its borders by the Zulu at
Isandlwana in 1879 and by the Boers at Majuba in 1881. 7
The new constitution of 1893 was a source of understandable satisfaction to
those in Natal who had campaigned so long for it. Whitehall officials believed
that the Colony's voteless majority would be adequately protected by the
nominated Legislative Council or 'upper house' provided for in the new
constitution, and by the Governor's authority as 'Supreme Chief' of the
African population. They were soon disabused of that misconception. The new
series of all-white 'responsible government' ministries which held office in
Pietermaritzburg from 1893 onwards were comprised of businessmen and
farmers who demonstrated little sense of responsibility for the welfare of the
vast majority of the population. The first ministry, led from 1893 to 1897 by
John Robinson, editor of the Natal Mercury, launched a series of discrimina­
tory bills against the Indian community. These were designed to withdraw the
franchise from those Indians who qualified for it, to terminate non-indentured
Indian immigration to the Colony, and to restrict Indian trading activity.8
It was the attempt, in 1894, to abolish Asian enfranchisement that induced
Gandhi to stay in Natal and to organise a petition, signed by nearly 9 000
Indians, which may have influenced the Colonial Office in its decision to reject
the proposal. Two years later the bill, in modified form, was approved. This
limited the franchise in Natal to males of European origin and to non-European
males originating from countries which already had elected parliaments. India
did not yet fall into this category. Within four years of attaining 'responsible
Gandhi's Natal 71

government' the Natal Parliament had not only deprived Indians of the
franchise. It had also imposed a burdensome tax on indentured Indians who
declined to re-indenture or return to India, it had initiated a campaign to end
the immigration of 'free' Indians, and it had made it more difficult for them to
establish businesses by entrusting prejudiced municipal authorities with the
power to grant or refuse trading licences.~
Gandhi's return to Natal in 1897, after a sojourn in India, attracted far more
attention, and more brutal treatment, than his arrival in 1893. Settler animosity
towards him was aroused by news of his 'Green pamphlet', based on talks he
had given in India on the plight of Indians in South Africa. Whites were also
angered by the simultaneous arrival at Durban of several hundred 'free' Indian
immigrants for which, as it happened, Gandhi was not responsible. He
nevertheless only narrowly escaped an incensed mob of colonists who beat and
kicked him after disembarkation. Gandhi subsequently earned grudging admi­
ration for refusing to lay charges against his assailants but his enhanced
personal prestige did not deter the Legislature from its programme of
discriminatory legislation. III
Indians were not the only inhabitants of Natal to suffer the effects of these
new laws. After 1897, when farmers formed the majority in all cabinets,
measures were introduced to induce Africans to work in larger numbers on
white-owned farms by discouraging their independent economic enterprises,
by denying them access to land, and by making it difficult for them to find
employment outside the Colony, notably on the Witwatersrand. The attainment
of 'responsible government' in 1893 clearly did not herald a better dispensa­
tion for the vast majority of Natal's population. The political advantage
exploited by the white settler community to restrain Indian commercial
competition and control African labour resources increased even further
following the unification of South Africa in 1910 and the consequent removal
of any possible imperial intervention. I I
Gandhi's experiences in Natal on arrival in 1893 and again in 1897, like the
legislation which characterised the 1890s, were symptomatic of the Colony's
socio-economic circumstances. By the mid-1890s Natal's population was
estimated to be 584 326, of whom 503 208 (86 per cent) were African, 45 707
(8 per cent) were white, and 35 411 (6 per cent) Indian.12 The vast majority of
Africans still lived in the rural districts, where they cultivated approximately
75 per cent of the available arable land, most of it owned by whites. The once
prosperous African peasantry, which for a time had produced most of the
Colony's food requirements, was rapidly disappearing. The combination of
hostile legislation and successive natural disasters, including locust plagues,
drought and rinderpest, made it increasingly difficult for Africans to avoid the
options of migrancy to the towns and mines or labour tenancy on the
large-scale commercial farms which now dominated the agricultural sector.
Hardly any Africans had become urbanised, except as 'togt' or day labourers,
and in 1904 the estimate of Africans living in urban areas was still as low as
4 per cent. 13
By contrast, approximately 54 per cent of whites were urbanised by the
1890s and a substantial majority of them were engaged in non-agricultural
pursuits including mining and small scale manufacturing, public service and
the professions, commerce and transport. 14 The transit trade into the interior
had always been a significant means of income to the white commercial sector
based primarily in Durban, and the money generated by customs duties
constituted a major source of public revenue, along with the hut tax and other
72 Gandhi's Natal

financial obligations placed upon the African maJorIty. Following .the

opening of the Witwatersrand goldfields in the mid-1880s, the 'overberg'
transit trade became an even more important source of private and public
income. The completion of the railway I ines through to the Transvaal and
Orange Free State borders in 1891 diminished Natal's waggon-transport
business but encouraged local farmers to produce perishable food crops on a
much larger scale than ever before, primarily for the expanding Witwaters­
rand market. Railway earnings became another source of public income,
amounting to 51 per cent of Government revenue within a year of the
railhead reaching Johannesburg in 1895. 15
The white settler community had been attracted by the commercial opportu­
nities and relative security of the towns from an early stage of the Colony's
history. A third of them were already established in Durban and Pietermaritz­
burg by the early 1850s. They had always been prone as a nervous minority to
periodic rumours concerning domestic African uprisings and Zulu military
invasions across the Thukela River frontier. By the 1880s, and especially after
the British annexation of Zul uland in 1887, white Natalians had come to regard
Indian immigration and commercial competition as a far greater threat to their
well-being. By the mid-1890s there were barely 10 000 fewer Indians than
whites living in the Colony, constituting (as previously indicated) 6 per cent
compared with 8 per cent of its total population. By 1904 Indians comprised
9.1 per cent of the population compared with the 8.8 per cent made up by
whites. 16
It is evident that during the 1880s and 1890s Natal's Indian population was
outstripping its white community, not only in numerical terms but also in
certain sectors of the colonial economy. Only 22 per cent of Indians were
urbanised by the mid-1890s, the majority of those in employment still being
engaged in agricultural pursuits as indentured and as 'free' labourers or else as
independent smallholders. 17 Nevertheless, as recent research has shown, the
Indian community had already made a far greater impact on the colony than the
proponents of labour importations could have anticipated when the first
shipload of approximately 600 indentured workers arrived on board the Truro
on 17 November 1860. They undoubtedly helped to alleviate the extended
crisis which, for various reasons, the local sugar industry experienced during
the latter decades of the nineteenth century, though their arrival did not
produce a dramatic and sustained increase in local sugar output, or a significant
improvement in the financial circumstances of the sugar farmers. From the
beginning, their presence was felt beyond the sugar plantations with which
they are popularly associated. Several of the coastal estates on which they were
employed were planted with other crops whose suitability as export staples was
still being tested. These included cotton, coffee, arrowroot, hill rice and
tobacco. IX
Before long, indentured Indian labourers were in demand in the pastoral and
wattle industries of the interior districts and, from the 1880s onwards, were
applying skills already acquired in India in railway construction and coal­
mining. By the 1890s the Natal Government Railways had become the largest
single employer of Indians in the Colony and by 1902 Indians constituted 44.5
per cent of the labour force in the local coal industry. 19 Among the indentured
Indian immigrants who brought particular skills with them were those
specifically selected as 'special servants' to work as chefs, waiters, orderlies,
interpreters, clerks, postmen and policemen. Another special category were the
ferrymen imported from the east coast of India with their Masulah boats to


'Imperial Splendour' : Opening the first Natal Parliament, 19 October 1893, by Sir Waiter Hely Hutchinson. VC>
(Natal Society Library)
74 Gandhi' s Natal

transport passengers and cargo from vessels lying in Durban's outer

anchorage. This was because prior to the early 1900s large steamships were
unable to negotiate the notorious sandbar across the harbour mouth. 21l
Natal's Indian community made its presence felt even more strongly when,
after completing their indentures, many workers opted to remain as so-called
'free' Indians instead of re-indenturing, returning to India, or migrating to the
diamond and gold fields of the interior. Most of them moved into other spheres
of the colonial economy and began to offer various goods and services which
had not hitherto been locally available. By the late 1870s they had already
established a monopoly over the colony's commercial fishing industry, in
addition to that over fruit and vegetable hawking in and around the main urban
areas. It was primarily as traders that 'free' Indians found themselves in
competition with Africans and whites and so began to experience the
resentment of other ethnic groupS.21 Some indentured labourers engaged in
spare-time trading almost immediately on arrival but a significant Indian
trading community only really began to emerge with the arrival from the
mid-1870s of the so-called 'passenger' Indians.
These new arrivals were endowed with capital, expertise and commercial
contacts in India. They set up family businesses which initially catered to the
needs of the colony's Indian community but they also identified business
opportunities to which white entrepreneurs had been slow to respond. They
gradually eclipsed their ex-indentured compatriots, at least in the main urban
areas, extended their activities into the Natal interior, and established a
monopoly over the indigenous black trade. White consumers readily patronised
Indian stores and white wholesalers often employed Indian traders as middle­
men, but the small-scale white traders in the towns and countryside felt most
directly threatened. It was they who initiated demands for restrictions on
Indian commercial activities. During the economic recession of the 1880s
white settler attitudes towards Indians, and Indian traders in particular, became
increasingly hostile, resulting in the first outbursts of anti-Asiatic sentiment in
the Colony, and the appointment of the Wragg Commission of 1885-97. It
acknowledged that Indian traders had been beneficial to the local economy but
concluded that the majority of white Natalians wanted the Indian community to
participate in it as indentured labourers only, or at least to see the status of
'free' Indians diminished. 22 It was against this background of mounting
anti-Indian sentiment that a young Indian lawyer, smartly attired in European­
style dress and wearing a turban, was forced off a train in June 1893 at
Pietermaritzburg station when he insisted on remaining overnight in a first­
class carriage.
Presumptuously, this paper is entitled 'Gandhi's Natal'. Yet it is evident that
while much had been achieved by 1893, after fifty years of British rule, there
was a great deal about the prevailing state of the colony to give a compassio­
nate observer like Gandhi cause for concern. Natal was heavily dependent
upon the 'overberg' trade, generated primarily by the Witwatersrand gold
industry, and upon the labour and taxation of its African majority. The Indian
community was active in virtually every sector of the local economy, yet it
faced increasing resentment from the small white population. Few Indians had
acquired the vote and those who had were soon to be deprived of it as part of a
campaign of discriminatory legislation designed to subject Indians and Afri­
cans to more effective white-minority control. A more equitable dispensation,
for which Gandhi among others campaigned, has taken another century to
Gandhi's Natal 75

[Paper delivered at a Conference on the Centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's Transforming Experience in
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, (University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg), 7-8 June 1993]

I. M. K. Gandhi, An autobiography.' the story of my experiments with truth (Ahmedabad. 1948.)

pp.92-3; M. Palmer, The History of the Indians in Natal (Cape Town, 1957), pp. 49-5 I;
J. Brain, 'Natal's Indians, 1860-1910' in A. Duminy and B. Guest (eds), Natalltnd Zululand
from earliest times to 1910.' a new hiSTOry (Pietermaritzburg, 1989), p.263.
2. Palmer, Indians in Natal, p. 51; H. Seedat, 'Gandhi: the Pietermaritzburg experience' in
J. Laband and R. Haswell (eds), Pietermaritzburg 1838-1988 : a new portrait I,f an Ajl'ican
city (Pietermaritzburg, 1988), p. 20 I.
3. Natal Witness, 4 & 5 Sept 1894; Brain, 'Natal's Indians', p.263; H. Seed at, 'Gandhi's
admission as an advocate' in Laband and Haswell, Pietermaritzburg 1838-1988, p.99.
4. E. H. Brookes and C. de B. Webb, A history of Natal (Pietermaritzburg, 1965), p. 181.
5. J. Bird, The Annals of Natal, 1495-1845,2 (Pietermaritzburg, 1888; Facsimile reprint, Cape
Town, 1965), p.86; G. von W. Eybers, Select Constitutional Documents Illustrating South
African History, 1795-1910 (London, George Routledge, 1918), pp. 188-194; Natal Legislat­
ive Council Debates, 8 May 1893 and 10 May 1893; B. Guest, 'Towards responsible
government, 1879-93' in Duminy and Guest (eds), Natal and Zululand, p.243.
6. G. Dominy and H. Paterson, 'Fort Napier: The imperial base that shaped the city' in Laoand
and Haswell (eds), Pierermllritzburg 1838-/988, pp. 102-109.
7. B. Guest, 'Colonists, confederation and constitutional change' and 'Towards responsible
government' in Duminy and Guest (eds), NllIal and Zululand, pp. 146-62 and 233-45.
8. Guest, 'Towards responsible government', pp. 243-45 and Brain, 'Natal's Indians', pp.261-2.
9. Gandhi, Experiments with Truth, p. 116; Palmer, Indians in Natal, p.53; Eybers, Select
Constitutional Documents, p.215; S. Bhana, 'Indian trade and trader in colonial Natal' in
B. Guest and J. M. Sellers (eds), Enterprise and exploitation in a Victorian Colony: aspects of'
the economic and social history of colonial Natal (Pietermaritzburg, 1985), pp. 235-263.
10. Gandhi, Experiments with truth, pp. 54-7; Palmer, Indians in Natal, pp. 59-61; J. T. Henderson
(cd), Speeches of the late Right Honourable Harry Escombe (Pietermaritzburg, 1903),
pp. 324-41; Natal Witness, I, 4 to 8 and 11 to 15 Jan 1897.
11. J. Lambert, 'From independence to rebellion African society in crisis, c.1880-1910' in
Duminy and Guest (eds), Natal and Zululand, pp. 383-4; Bhana, 'Indian trade and trader',
12. Statistical Year BookjiJr the Colony of NatalfiJr the year 1904, p.3.
13. Z. A. Konczacki, Public finance and economic development of Natal, 1893-/910 (Durham.
N.C., 1967), pp. 5,8; Lambert, 'African society in crisis', pp. 373-401.
14. Konczacki, Public finllncc Ilnd economic developmellt, p.5.
15. B. Guest, 'The new economy' in Duminy and Guest (eds), Natal and Zululand, pp.303-8;
H. Heydenrych, 'Railway development in Natal to 1895' in Guest and Sellers, Enterprise and
exploitation, pp.47-69.
16. Konczacki, Puhlic .finance and economic developmellt, pp.4-5; D. Welch, The )'(Jots ol
segregation: natilc polic)' ill colonial Natal 1845-1910 (Cape Town, 1971), p.229.
17. Konczacki, Public finance and economic deveiopmellt, p.5.
18. Ballard and Lenta, 'The complex nature of agriculture in colonial Natal: 1860-1909' and
J. Brain, 'Indentured and free Indians in the economy of colonial Natal' in Guest and Sellers,
Ellterprise and exploitation, pp. 126-8 and 202-3.
19. Brain, 'Natal's Indians', p. 253; Heydenrych, 'Railway development', pp. 63-4; R. Edgecombe
and B. Guest, 'An introduction to the pre-Union Natal coal industry' in Guest and Sellers,
Enterprise and exploitation, pp. 327-8.
20. Brain, 'Indentured and free Indians', pp. 220-226.
21. Brain, 'Natal's Indians', pp.255-7; Brain, 'Indentured and free Indians', pp.210-212,
22. Bhana, 'Indian trade and trader', pp. 235-263; Brain, 'Natal's Indians', pp. 258-61; S. L. Kirk,
'Wragg Commission: a study of economic and social factors' (BA Hons minithcsis, University
of Natal, Durban, 1980.)

-- -----------

V-Boats off Natal

The Local Ocean War, 1942-1944

Fifty years after the event, a good deal of remllllscence is evident as

participants, historians, and a fascinated public carefully re-follow the
chronology of World War 11. Amazingly missing from this recollection here
in Natal is the War as it came to our own front door (if one may use that
expression for a broad reach of the Indian Ocean.) How extensive was the
submarine warfare off Natal? Why was it not more publicly reported?
How many Allied ships were sunk? Was an enemy submarine ever 'killed' off
our coast? Were U-boats ever seen from the Natal mainland by amateur
spotters? Did the Durban 'black-out' have any effect on this local naval
war? Was the Nova Scotia (whose sinking off St Lucia led to the largest loss of
life in our maritime history) ambushed as a result of 'fifth column' infor­
I don't claim that the following article has all the answers to these questions.
With our attention drawn to theatres of war in North Africa and Italy, it came
as a great surprise to me to learn that the ship losses off the South African coast
between 1939 and 1945 were not the half-dozen or so as I had casually
believed, but (as C J. Harris tables it in War at Sea) no less than 155. I Of that,
103 were lost in the 13 months of the present study, the period during which
there were 'U-boats off Natal', and which accounted for some 26 ships off the
Natal and Pondoland coasts alone. The sea, it seems, was the major local
theatre of South Africa's participation in the war. But the concealment of this
warfare was so effective at the time (for reasons good and bad, as will be
discussed) that its size and its military implication have never really figured in
the cultural aftermath.
Of course, where the war at sea is concerned, to claim a 'theatre' in any
provincial or national sense must be tenuous. By far the greatest number of
sinkings were (despite the 'constant stream of false alarms' from spotters on
the coase) far off territorial limits. Indeed, Natal's one accredited 'kill', RAF
Catalina C/259 versus U-197, happened some five to six hundred miles east of
Natal and south of Madagascar. Nevertheless, it was a St Lucia-based
aeroplane that was involved, it was coastal radio intelligence that located the
U-boat, and it was Durban-bound shipping that it was busy attacking. I will
claim, then (with perhaps a whiff of authorial licence) that such incidents
legitimately tell the story of the naval action off Natal.
The story has four major phases. We start with Phase 1: May to July 1942,
when the Japanese attempt to hinder the Allied occupation of Madgascar. They
make sorties down to Natal, sink one ship, and bring about the notorious

Natalia 23 and 24 (1993/94), B. BizJey pp. 76-98

V-Boats off Natal 77


C'I" St Wa.
J Iq

'24 26

I, .
22 U'i91'
4, [(; i7 ~
28' 40' S

42' 40' E
, 30'


20 1.1 .
: 6,
/ :b

/ 1,2 13

l? •


1/ 14

°E 29' 30' 31' 32' 33' 34' 35' 36' 37' 38'

Table 1 Ships sunk off the Natal and Pondoland coasts, 1942-1943
(Chronological order follows the numbers given on the map)

( I) Mundra ( 6. 7.42) ( 14) Empire Mahseer ( 4. 3.43)

(2) Empire Guidon (31.10.42) (15) Marietta E ( 4. 3.43)
(3) Reynolds (31.10.42) (16) James B Stephens ( 8. 3.43)
(4) Mendoza ( 1.11.42) (17) Aelbryn (11. 3.43)
(5) Louise Moller (13.11.42) (18) Aloe (14. 3.43)
(6) Scottish Chief (20.11.42) (19) Sembilan (17. 4.43)
(7) Pierce Butler (20.11.42) (20) Manaar (18. 4.43)
(8) Mount Helmos (24.11.42) (21 ) John Dray ton (21.4.43)
(9) Nova Scotia (28.11.42) (22) Northmoor (17. 5.42)
(10) Llandaff Castle (30.11.42) (23) Salabangka ( 1. 6.43)
(11) Sawhloento (14.12.42) (24) Dumra ( 5. 6.43)
(12) Harvey W. Scott ( 3. 3.43) (25) William King ( 7. 6.43)
(13) Nirpura ( 3. 3.43) (26) Pegasus (23. 7.43)
Sunk by RAF Catalina: U-197 (20.8.43)
78 V-Boats off Natal

'black-outs', the most tangible evidence to the population at large that

something is going on.
Phase 2 sees the entry of Germany into the South African war at sea. (I am
thinking here of a geographically-specific expedition. In 1940, the German
raider Pinguin has already done damage south of Madgascar.) In October 1942,
Gruppe Eisbiir (Polar Bear), comprising four U-boats and a fuelling vessel,
commence their formidable operation off the Cape, and don't return to
occupied France until Christmas of that year. During their campaign, U-S04
hives off from the pack and moves north, where it is joined by three U-cruisers.
This derivative of Eisbiir plagues both the Natal coast and the Mozambique
channel from 31 October to 4 December. Off Natal itself they sink ten vessels
and most notably the converted freighter Nova Scotia, whose demise results in
the largest loss of life ever recorded in South African waters.
Then, in late February 1943, comes phase 3, when Natal has the unwelcome
attentions of Cruppe Seehund, U-J60, U-S06, U-S09 and U-SI6, plus fuel­
carrying U-4S9 which is stationed south of St Helena. Seehund only ceases its
mauling of coastal shipping - including some seven victims off
Natal - when it is recalled on 14 March. A strange tail-end to this phase is the
solo exercise in April by the Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci which sinks,
amongst others. three vessels south-east of Durban.
Phase 4 sees the final U-boat gruppe from Lorient arriving off Natal on
17 May 1943, not to return to Europe until August. For all their long stay, the
tables have now turned against submarines. They maraud the coasts for three
months, but only account for five ships off Natal, and lose one of their
members in the attempt. Thereafter, U-boat Command decides against further
sorties along the South African coast.

Phase One
How lonely, how exposed did the port city of Durban feel after February 1942
and the fall of Singapore') Not greatly, if the social pages, the John Orr's and
Greenacre's adverts, and the reminiscences of servicemen are to be believed.
The Mediterranean being now closed to Allied shipping, Durban was the
best-equipped port on the route to the East, and the last 'swinging'
haven - for thousands of soldiers and sailors - before they got down to the
business of war, whether in the East or in North Africa. Those more perceptive
as to the sheer emptiness of the Indian Ocean once Singapore had fallen might
have cheered themselves up with the knowledge of the boom at the harbour
mouth, or the depth-charge throwers which guarded this, the only Union port
whose dry-dock could accommodate a battleship. Did the social whirl engen­
dered by the wartime traffic blot out the military facts? To quote War in the
Southern Oceans: 'As the Japanese spread ... over Malaya and the Indone­
sian Archipelago, the Union had to face the possibility of serious invasion,
with the disconcerting premise that the coast batteries and Seaward Defence
Force were quite incapable of resisting it." The fragility of Durban's wartime
glamour was evidenced in the tempting array of moored ships out in the
road stead, averaging 20 a day in 1941 and 50 a day in 1942. The Japanese, who
had bombed eight merchant ships in Port Darwin on 19 February, would not
even have to penetrate the harbour I
Certain south Atlantic movements of a Vichy French naval squadron gave
the first hints that the Axis might use the chief port of Madagascar, Diego
Suarez (a 'Vichy' possession) to complete their grip on the Indian Ocean.
V-Boats off Natal 79

Prime Minister Smuts decided he must occupy the island, and a mostly South
African force took Diego Suarez on 6 May 1942. But, following their
Singaporean triumphs, the Japanese did not leave this uncontested. Natal's
coastal command must have felt distinctly anxious when it became known that
a Japanese submarine strike force (under Admiral Ishizaki, operating south of
Aden) had sneaked a midget submarine into Diego Suarez, and on 29 May
inflicted some humiliating damage, mauling the battleship HMS Ramillies so
badly that it had to he towed to Durban for repair. The Japanese action delayed
the complete occupation of Madagascar until 4 November.
Was it Admiral Ishizaki, sitting in submarine I-lOin the Mozambique
channel, who instructed a reconaissance aircraft to flyover Durban on the
night of 5 June? This small incident provoked the 'black-out' procedures that
were to become the main eviden& of a local war for the average Natalian. On
this night the nervous captain of the Durban-based battleship Valiant com­
plained to C-in-C Durban that th'ough he had observed black-out procedures in
his corner of the port the brilliantly-lit city abated not a jot in its hospitahle
mood. (The captain had every right to feel jittery. Valiant was under repair in
Durban as a direct consequence of Italian 'human torpedoes' off Alexandria in
December 1941 14 ) So, reluctantly and with not much conviction. Durban had
to submit to a hlack-out of 20 miles' radius. On 4 July, another unidentified
aircraft was observed, but as it turned out the black-out damaged the home side
rather more than the enemy. Naval patrols couldn't find port, Anson aircraft
couldn't find their landing-strips, and in another (somewhat suppressed)
incident, the Bluff gunnery brought down one of the Durban-based planes.
However, the sinking of the 7 341 ton Mundra off St Lucia on 6 July meant
that the Japanese threat couldn't be discounted, and the black-out remained in
force. (I shall speculate later, however, that the Durban black-out did not affect
the course of the war at all. Perhaps it strengthened moral fibre on the home

Spying and the Ocean War

In July of 1942 another little-puhlicised discovery must have raised stress
levels at Command HQ. A camouflaged cache of gelignite and detonators was
found in the basement of a house in Oriel Road, Wentworth. As G.c. Visser
records in OB: Traitors or Patriots?:

Among documents seized was one from which it appeared that a plan was
afoot to blow up the graving dock in Durban harbour. Later enquiries
satisfied us that these two men (i.e. lodgers of the house) ran a very
efficient spy system in Durban and had gathered information about ships
and shipping from contacts in the dock area. It is more than likely that
this cell was responsible for collecting the information relating to the
South African Expeditionary Force that sailed for Madagascar in April
1942. 5
We can hardly avoid considering. then, the effect of espionage on the local
naval war. The geographic base for such activity was neutral Mozambique and
of course the 'spy capital' of southern Africa, Lourenc;o Marques. What hetter
story for television transcription than the psychological saga that was played
out there between the 'handsome, pink-cheeked, fair-haired' Dr Luitpold
Werz, sometime Consul for Germany in Pretoria and now in Lourenc;o
Marques, and his opposite number for Britain, none other than Malcolm
80 V-Boats off Natal

Muggeridge. Visser observed at first hand the 'black comedy' at the Polana
It always struck me as ironical to see them sharing the grillroom or
bowing faintly to each other in the corridors, or stiffly ignoring each
other when they found themselves simultaneously engaged in the
gentlemen's cloakroom ... ~
After the war Visser was a member of the Barrett Commission, instituted by
Smuts to search military records in Germany and get some evidence of the
extent of espionage activity in wartime South Africa. In this capacity, Visser
compiled eleven volumes of translated, decoded transcriptions of the 'Werz
telegrams' (or Leo Reports) which had been somewhat casually dispatched
through the Lourenr;o Marques post office.
Suffice it to say that the post-war Smuts government was not eager to pursue
the Barrett report and stir up pre-election enmities. So when the change of
government came in 1948, it is hardly surprising that the report went
strategically missing. However, according to Visser, the United Party MP for
Salt River, Harry Lawrence, was able to supply the missing volumes of the
transcribed telegrams. Strangely enough, it seems that they were eventually
scrutinised by none other than the first Nationalist Prime Minister, Dr D. F.
Malan, whose 1957 memoirs sum up 'the German Documents' as 'extraordi­
narily comprehensive. No message from there or back, is apparently omitted.
The picture is complete. '7 With that, he (Malan) handed them to the State
Archivist. Extensive enquiries today in 1994 suggest that they are not to be
found. Surely it does not twist any ideological arm to say, fifty years later, that
if they were found, they would put an end to much conjecture.
I tend to doubt that the spying was as influential as Visser claims. He says of
the documents: 'They were revealing and indicated to me exactly how much
had been given away by careless talk ... 'R Writing in 1976, Visser could
surely have afforded some detail. He could have told us whether the attacks on
convoy DN.21 out of Durban or CD.20 into Durban in 1943, were consequent
on messages from Werz. After all, he is very circumstantial in the case of the
Madagascar campaign. Werz became possessed (fortunately too late to be of
effect) of very precise information as to the task force that had assembled in
Durban. The details were given on micro-films:
Full information about the convoy must have been gathered and dis­
patched to Pretoria before the ships left Durban. Information at my
disposal later showed that a messenger had arrived at the house of a
professor of the University of Pretoria with the details of the expedition­
ary force that had assembled at Durban. This learned gentleman was not
only a prominent member of the OB (Ossewabrandwag) but also a very
good photographer.'J
Why, then, no other instance so specific? The lack seems to bear out the
somewhat notorious footnote to p.159 of War in the Southern Oceans,
recording the German complaint of their inefficient South African agents,
whose chief 'called himself Hannibal' and whose 'identity is known'! Well:
what was known in 1961 seems not to be known today. It might be mentioned
that War in the Southern Oceans was prepared by 'The Union War Histories
Section of the Office of the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa', and
there is a possibility that in 1961 it was not politic to declare the identity.
V-Boats off Natal 81

I must be as careful, of course, not to underplay the effect of spying as I am

to deny its ultimate influence. There is no question that German Radio was able
to reveal to its (largely unconfessed l ) South African audience some remarkable
home truths. Rev. Arthur Atwell of Cape Town recalls how, in 1944, he
was - as a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy - assigned to a convoy
assembling in Durban. The convoy was under such secret orders that next of
kin did not know where one was, and the men on the ships had no idea of their
destination. Yet the night before they sailed, Zeesen wished them hon voyage
for their trip to Alexandria, and regretted that many of them would not make
the journey. The identification of the convoy, its departure date and destina­
tion, was completely accurate, and indeed it was to find itself harrassed by
submarines north of Mombasa.
Nevertheless, I must note that no U-boat log, as researched from those
vessels operating off our coast, appears to record a predetermined ambush as
by instruction. If Janie Malherbe is correct to recall how the Nova Scotia was
sunk in November 1942 as 'the result of information from a South African
German spy' who later 'unblushingly revealed his horrible deeds in a South
African Afrikaans periodical under a prudent pseudonym ... ',10 the fact
remains that the U-boat captain (Gysae) misjudged the Nova Scotia and its
mainly Axis complement of internees (he thought it was an 'auxiliary cruiser')
in a way that hardly suggests prior knowledge. For me, a clinching argument
lies in the fact that that succulent bait, the congested roadstead outside Durban,
was simply never touched. A dozen years after the war, a U-boat captain was
interviewed about this and he apparently answered with surprise, 'They never
told us about that ... 11 So, even if 'they' were the Werz network, they failed
to put U-boat Command in touch with such a prime naval location.
Nevertheless, only the Werz telegrams could ever really resolve the issue.

Second Phase
Admiral Ishikazi did not make his presence felt after July, and we come now to
the second phase, the entry of Germany into South African waters in October
1942. The date is easily explained: by July of that year American coastal
defences and radar-assisted convoys had contained, if not quite defeated, the
submarine menace in the Atlantic. Admiral Doenitz, meditating in his Paris
office on unemployed U-boats - when he wasn't listening to organ recitals at
N6tre Dame - decided to send a pack of the 750-ton vessels withdrawn from
the American coast down south of the equator, and so he set up the operational
Gruppe Eisbdr. Cape Town was rather more distant than New York, and there
is not much room in a 750 ton vessel. One sailor recalled:

Whichever way you looked ... torpedoes were lying about, big hams
and flitches of bacon hung all over the place, long fat pieces of polony
dangled here, there and everywhere. You knocked your legs against piles
of tinned stuff, and stumbled over bags of sugar .. ,12

The October campaign started with the biggest single punch that unprepared
South Africa ever received by sea. The country's comparative innocence is
suggested by a night photograph - reproduced in War in the Southern
Oceans - taken through one of the Eisbdr periscopes. It shows a brilliantly-I it
Sea Point and the outline of Lion's Head. It was not surprising, then, that
between 7 and 11 October 1942, within a range of thirty to ninety miles off
82 V-Boats off Natal

Cape Point, no fewer than fourteen ships (100902 tons) were sunk in four
But Eisbdr did not have it all its own way: it lost U-179 to aircraft off
Dassen Island, and it provoked such a vigorous coastal response as to make
the submarine captains abandon the plan to attack the Union's harbour
After this first round, a splinter from Eisbdr (U-504) was joined by three
newly-arrived U-cruisers to take the operation up the east coast. At I 616 tons
apiece, and with a range of 23 700 nautical miles, the U-cruisers seemed suited
to the job. The literature, however, finds them to have lacked manoeuvrability
and to have been less successful than their smaller counterparts. Seeing 'the
other side' on these matters is rather like trying to get a sympathetic notion of
the Great White Shark. One learns that a lot had to come together before a
U-boat could get a strike, especially if it must not reveal itself by the
fluctuation of the swell. (See U-178's log for 28 October off Agulhas: two
torpedoes fired uselessly in the swell at a 10 000 ton freighter, and a whole day
spent following a tanker without getting a chance.) Moreover, unlike the Great
White Shark, a submerged U-boat was no great swimmer, moving at only 7.3
knots maximum. The hunter could become the hunted in a moment: off
Tenerife one was destroyed by an armed trawler.
Nevertheless, Natal might well have had a tremor of apprehension if it had
known that on 31 October 1942 its balmy land was first sighted by a U-boat. If
our 'local war' had a more vivid memory or literature, one might well say that
'the hour had come'. A certain complacency was understandable, perhaps:
Natal was basking in the reports of 'Alamein' where, between 23 and 25
October, the tide of war seemed conclusively to have turned. So, even if they
had been publicly disclosed, the lonely sinkings 200 miles off Durban of
Empire Guidon (7 401 tons) and Reynolds (5 113 tons), both falling to U-504
on 31 October, would not, perhaps, have stirred local consciousness.
But when the 8 233 ton Mendoza (now under British colours l3 ) was sunk on
I November only 70 miles east-north-east of the Bluff, the Port Natal defence
mechanism sprang into action. Ten ships were brought in from the roadstead,
the black-out was tightened up, and cars were banned from the beachfront.
(Several authorities cite the Mendoza as the nearest-ever sinking to Durban,
but, as I shall suggest later, this seems disputable.)
There now began something of a psychological warfare between the South
African Naval Command and the popular press. How much should be made
known about the U-boat war? The question hinged on the distinction between
information on submarine strikes and information on shipping movements.
Surely one might have the former without necessarily having the latter.
Readers of The Natal Mercury saw every day a welter of Reuter reports on
U-boat actions in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Such briefings would
persuade the public of the very real danger that prevailed and of the
vulnerability of the merchant fleet. But the South African naval authorities
seem not to have made such a distinction, and (insofar as one can reconstruct
their policy) would have preferred that there be no reporting of U-boat strikes
at all. Even bearing in mind South Africa's fifth column activity, this was
surely counter-productive. A Mercury columnist writing on 3 November­
nearly a month after Eisbdr's big strike off Cape Town - is obviously a
victim of this attitude. He scoffs at German Radio's claim that 'U-Boats are
operating successfully against Allied shipping east of the Cape of Good Hope',
and accounts for it as 'an indication of Axis nervousness ... ' But then, as if
V-Boats off Natal 83

Wolfgang LOth , whose career as the second most successful U-boat ace of World
War II was nearly cut short off Port Shepstone.
(Provincial Museum Services)

uneasily aware that it might not be the Axi s who are laundering the news, he
says: ' It would be unwise to dismiss altogether the claims made by the
enemy'. That the claims of the enemy were unfortunately true was borne out
that week by the arrival of survivors from the Mendoza. This led to a
strongly-worded editorial in the Mercury for 7 November, entitled 'Naval

It would be difficult to imagine a more evasive or misleading statement

of policy than the one issued by the Naval Authorities to explain their
secrecy over recent shipping losses in South African waters. There can
be few people in the Union who do not know of these losses. Hundreds
of letters from survivors have passed through the post; survivors are
walking - and talking - in the streets, and the news has been freely
broadcast from Zeesen ... If enemy submarines are operating in South
African waters it is right and proper that the people of this country
should be told of the fact . . . The people do not need to be comforted
with soothing communiques. This is not a private war for the Army and
Navy. It is a people's war ... The present secrecy ... drives people to
listen to German propaganda.

A thesis is possible, I believe, that the policy of secrecy made the populace
more casual , not less, as to the movements of shipping. The signs that went
up around Durban, 'Don ' t Talk About Ships ' , merely increased a rumouring
84 V-Boats off Natal

environment. But of course, for the historian, the chief casualty is the events
themselves. Because of this policy some of the most formidable duels ever
fought in Natal warfare, and which might weIl rank with Shaka's victory over
Zwide or the defence of Rorke's Drift, have simply passed into oblivion.
Such a duel was that between the Durban-based destroyer HMS Inconstant
(fallacious name!) and U-181, off Port Shepstone on 15 November 1942. It
seems amazing that our only documentation for this comes from the U-boat
commander's log. Kapitanleutnant Liith - notorious amongst crews for in­
sisting that their pop music be interspersed with classical records, and that
there should be no pin-ups in crew's quarters - had enjoyed a propitious
14 November. The day before group-leader U-I78 had sunk the British Louise
Moller, 240 miles south-east of Durban, and the campaign was going well.
Now, lying off Port Shepstone (which Liith observed as 'brilliantly lit up' 14)
came a radio message: he had been awarded Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross
by a grateful Fiihrer.
So - for the record - on 14 November, 1942, within sight of Port
Shepstone, an officer of the Reich received Hitler's congratulations and the
decoration of Oak Leaves.
But Liith was not to enjoy these pleasures for long. At dawn next morning
came an aircraft warning, and at 9.36 a.m. U-181 and HMS inconstant, five
miles apart, spotted each other. The tension of the sequel comes out in Liith' s
report. First, he dives to 390 feet to avoid the initial depth charge from
inconstant. Then 6 depth-charges are counted much closer, and he must dive
further to 460 feet. Then come ten so close that he must take his submarine
below safety level to a dangerous 525 feet below surface. By 11.29 inconstant
is very much master of the situation. After another salvo Liith records: 'when
the starboard motor does more than 70 revs the boat clatters badly.' Those men
who are off duty must breathe through potash filters, to keep down the carbon
dioxide. After a while, a venting valve fails, and the smell of foul gas from the
bilges pervades the submarine. At 1.00 p.m. inconstant is back on track with
another six charges, and Liith, now down to 573 feet, reports a 'disquieting
creaking and cracking all over the boat'. But when an exit hatch starts to leak
200-300 litres of seawater per hour, there is nothing for it but to rise and take
some of the pressure off the stressed vessel. Fortunately, at 2.30 p.m.
Inconstant loses contact, and by 6.30 p.m. U-181 can rise to 250 feet. But back
comes the most constant Inconstant: the submarine's hydrophones pick up the
beat of her propellors. So the war of nerves goes on. At 7.04 p.m. come four
more depth charges, the 'closest of all'. But Inconstant has now run out of
charges, and turns the battle over to her sisters Jasmine and Nigella. They don't
seem to be as convinced of the 'contact', and at 11.59 p.m., C-in-C Durban
calls off the search.
It is of course one of the frustrations of submarine war that an attacker like
inconstant would never know how close she had come to destroying the
Fiihrer's latest hero, Wolfgang Liith, the second most successful U-boat
captain of World War IL I5 Perhaps there was some recognition of the encounter
in the award to Inconstant's captain, Lieutenant-Commander W.F. Clauston,
of the Distinguished Service Cross the following year. 16 With immense relief
Liith surfaced at 1.30 a.m. on the 16th, and moved south to carry out repairs.
His log is graphic: every nut on the boat seemed loose enough to come off by
hand, as in fact one did. Fifteen tons of water had to be pumped out to get the
boat on even keel. The repairs must have been well executed: back off Natal,
on 20 November, Liith takes the 7 000 ton tanker Scottish Chief, carrying
V-Boats off Natal 85

10 000 tons of crude oil. And, in another nasty twist of submarine warfare, the
nearby American ship Pierce Butler (7 191 tons) puts up such a graphic radio
report on the explosion of the tanker that she gives away her own position, and
is shot up by U-I77. Fortunately all 93 of her crew are saved.
Assailed by such blows, the Durban port authority closed the harbour for a
week. The U-boat pack, noticing the quiet, headed north for Lourenl;o
Marques. Survivors of one of Llith's sinkings in the Mozambique Channel
report him speaking from surfaced U-181 in 'Oxford English with an accent
that was German in character'. His destruction of the 6 481 ton Greek ship
Mount Helmos off Oro Point on 24 November might be included in the Natal
story, since the 37 survivors came ashore at St Lucia. Llith himself survived
almost to the end of the war, when he was shot, in Germany itself it seems, by a
jittery sentry.
Attention now turns to Kapitanleutnant Gysae in U-I77, who performed the
two most familiar sinkings off Natal, and the two disasters which brought
the U-boat war to p~dpable reality for most Natalians. At 6.12 a.m. on
28 November, Gysae sighted smoke east of Cape St Lucia, and later identified
'a medium-sized passenger ship' zigzagging at 14 knots. This was the ill-fated
Nova Scotia, a hired transport of 6 796 tons, whose demise now was to cause
the greatest loss of life of any maritime casualty in South African history. Not
that the major portion of victims were South African: she was carrying 765
Italians, mostly civil internees from Eritrea, and only 134 South African
servicemen in addition to her crew. The fact that Gysae, at 400 metres range,
hit a ship peopled mostly with Axis personnel again suggests that there was
no espionage behind this daylight attack. (Incidentally, 14 knots is not quite
fast enough to escape a U-boat. Gysae would have struck the 17 000 ton
liner California on 15 November, east of Durban, if, after a five hour chase,
the passenger ship had not eventually outpaced the submarine's 18 knots.)
For the South Africans on board Nova Scotia - in sight of a long-deserved
home welcome after the 'Alamein' action - the destruction of the ship was a
bitter tragedy. I was first struck by this when I came upon the Nova Scotia saga
in a completely removed context - the autobiography of the Natal mountai­
neer, Brian Godbold. 17 Godbold had got early release from his corps at
Helwan, but found that he did not have all his papers, and so had to sacrifice
his chance of an early sailing. Later 'the hand of Providence' seemed to show
itself when he learned that the ship he missed at Port Tewfik was none other
than Nova Scotia. So he escaped being one of several Natalians who went
down with the ship - the Mercury later gave notices for, amongst others,
F. W. Brokensha (of 302 Prince Alfred Street, Pietermaritzburg), and Sergeant
(Jock) Payne, educated at Maritzburg College.
When Gysae, 30 miles off Cape St Lucia, hit Nova Scotia with three
torpedoes at 400 metres range, there began the best-documented sinking saga
in the local war literature. One need only recommend the latest amalgamation
of accounts by lan Uys in Survivors of Africa 's Oceans. What a story! - a
man rushes from his cabin to escape the listing ship only to find a pillar of
oil-fire coming the other way, straight along the corridor. Squeezing through
the porthole, he so injures his back as to keep the scars for the rest of his life.
He is winded when he hits the sea, yet not long after notices sharks beginning
to mill around the boats and rafts. IX Down in the water, prisoners and their late
captors are suddenly equalised.
86 V-Boats off Natal

Corporal Andrew Biccard, of the Cape Town Highlanders, tried to board

a tiny raft which barely had room for the two Italians already there. They
tried to push him away. Then one noticed he had a rosary around his
neck. They were fellow Catholics! Biccard was pulled to safety. 19

A major historic interest of this saga lies in the subsequent actions of the
U-boat captain. (At this point I must interpolate a completely non-specialist
note when I say that, gazing at the photograph of Nova Scotia in lan Uys's
book,20 I believe I can see why Gysae might have identified this 7 000 ton
transport ship as an 'auxiliary cruiser.' The Nova Scotia has streamlined
passenger-type fairings around her bridge and foredecks, and looks consider­
ably more impressive than her actual size or her humble designation.) There is
no question but that the rescue operation, mounted from Louren~o Marques,
and which saw the Portuguese sloop Alfonso de Albuquerque pick up 192
survivors, would never have happened if the U-boat captain had not radioed for
help. I say this because there is the breath of an implication in some of Uys's
interviews that he only did this because he 'received a tremendous shock when
he found that he had torpedoed a prisoner-of-war ship carrying his allies' and
so was heard shouting repeatedly in English: 'I am sorry ... I am terribly
sorry ... I will radio Berlin ... Help will be sent ... Be brave .. .'.21
Of course, for the men struggling in the water, the eerie presence of one's
late 'killer', especially of the size of a U-cruiser, circling the disaster-scene of
its own creation, its guns manned in case of any retaliation, are factors not
likely to endear one to the voice behind the megaphone, even if it does speak
perfect English. But in fact Gysae's actions are consistent with a number of
reported instances, even when the survivors were all under an Allied flag.
Whereas it was commonplace, apparently, for Japanese submarines to
machine-gun survivors, there is only onc recorded instance of this in all the
130 or so U-boat sinkings off South Africa, off Ascension Island in 1944. (In
fact the Nuremburg Trials showed it to be the only case in World War lI. 22 )
After the war not a few survivors sought out U-boat captains to thank them for
aid received. Kapitanleutnant Witte, on U-159 of Eisbiir, heading home from
the Cape in December, was so helpful to his victims on Star of Scotland,
supplying and towing their lifeboat, that the American captain went to great
lengths to meet him agai n in 1948. 21 Off N ata!, note the case of Louise M oiler:
'Survivors describe how the U-boat (U- [78) surfaced and they were questioned
by an officer with a long black beard who, before making off, indicated various
men swimming in the water who should be rescued. ,24 As aerial counter-attack
became more efficient, however, such incidents could only diminish. Once
aircraft could come up from the horizon in less time than it took a U-boat to
submerge, one could no longer afford to have the crew preoccupied up on
In fact the German captains off South Africa had come under restraint not to
give more help, and that as a consequence of a 'red-letter' incident which, fifty
years later, should be given prominence. This occurred some two and a half
months before the Nova Scotia affair, when Eisbiir first moved south of the
equator. On 12 September [942, U-156, under Captain Hartenstein, en route to
the Cape, saw and torpedQed the passenger liner Laconia. It turned out that
there were 2 372 passengers and troops on board, many of them women.
Hartenstein immediately mounted a major rescue operation, and took on board
many (including an English nurse) who were later to testify to their good
treatment at his hands. In heavy seas he rounded up Lacollia's lifeboats and
V-Boats off Natal 87

marshalled them ready for towing - all the time showing a large Red Cross
banner. Suddenly out of the skies appeared an American 'Liberator' which
started to bomb U-JS6. The U-boat was damaged, and Hartensein had no
option but to disembark his new passengers, cut the tow-rope, and submerge
before the 'Liberator' could come back and finish him off.
Headquarters policy changed in a moment. Admiral Doenitz issued a
communique that sounds strange to anyone too fixed on World War 11
stereotypes. 'The incident is proof, he said, 'of how disastrous it could be to
display humane feelings toward such an opponent. '26 Rescues must cease: one
might round up the chief officer of the sunken ship (to put his expertise out of
commission for the duration of the war) but thereafter the survivors must look
to themselves. 'In spite of the most scathing enquiries', says Uys, 'no-one has
ever discovered where that bomber was based or whether or not it asked for
and received orders. ,27 At any rate, because of it, the Laconia casualty list
greatly increased, and less than half its complement reached Liberia.
So when - as C. J. Harris reports the Nova Scotia in War at Sea - Gysae
radioed Command that he had sunk a ship with (as he estimated) 'over a
thousand Italian civil internees ex Massawa' on board, the predictable reply
came back: 'Continue operating. Waging war comes first. No rescue at­
tempts. ,2X But obviously, as we have seen, the German HQ did inform the
Portuguese at Louren<,;o Marques.
This being a Natal story, I must only hint at the sequel in Mozambique. The
Allied soldiers and sailors picked up by the neutral Portuguese had to be
interned under international law for the duration of hostilities. But that was to
reckon without Malcolm Muggeridge. By dint of arranging a semi-official
parole for them one Sunday afternoon, and organising some 10 taxis to swoop
down and pick them up, he was able to have them delivered over the Swaziland
border. Despite Consul Werz's shrill protests they arrived home rather sooner
than international law required!29
So far as our local social history goes, the sinking of the Nova Scotia
demonstrated graphically the strange policy of muffling the U-boat war. The
papers positively glowed with virtuous silence. Two days before the sinking,
there had appeared this in the Mercury:

Father Christmas calling all children! Sssh!!!! don't talk about

ships ... Everyone knows that all the big Boats have been away taking
Soldiers, Airmen and War supplies 'up North' and everyone knows that
the shops are short of Toys this Christmas. When the war is over Father
Christmas will return to Toyland at Greenacres ...

Of course one must agree that, with men of the First Division en route home
from North Africa, the disclosure of convoy details and shipping movements
would invite danger. But that is a different thing from refusing to admit that
tragedies of some scale are happening off one's own coast. On 30 November
and 1 December the MercLln' reports some seven sinkings off Louren<,'()
Marques. But, closer to home, the NIJlla Scotia only gets a brief mention on
2 December in a small item at the bottom of a page: 'About 100 survivors
from a torpedoed vessel have been picked up by the gunboat AI/onso de
Albuquerque which left Louren<,;o Marques on Sunday morning.' On
4 December this is corrected to 192,urvivors, and the admission is made that
'acting as escort for prisoners of war were some British soldiers.' Otherwise,
the MerCllrl' can only hint at this concealed disaster with a few military
88 V-Boats off Natal

funeral notices and a photograph of 'Captain Herder and Purser Muller of the
Nova Scotia " sUb-titled, with due vagueness, 'Drowned at sea through enemy
activity. '
Much less possible to be kept secret was the sinking - two days after Nova
Scotia - of the Union Castle liner LlandaffCastle, of 10799 tons, which was
torpedoed just south of Oro point at the boundary between Mozambique and
Natal. This was another 'bag' for Gysae in U-I77. In fact, on 2 December, he
almost opened fire on yet a third passenger ship to complete a gruesome
hat-trick, but fortunately identified her just in time as the hospital ship
Dorsetshire. (Liith, too, saw her that night, illuminated, says his log, 'as in
regulations'.) The abandoning of the Llandaff Castle went according to drill,
there being no oil fire as on Nova Scotia, and 270 survived of a complement of
Now it was quite impossible for the Durban press to conceal this event,
because by 5 December the bulk of the survivors were walking the streets!
More than that, they were not slow to compliment the city on its reception of
them: 'Charity can be cold, but Durban's charity and kindness is as kind as its
sunshine.' This comment raises the interesting question what the weather was
like in Durban on 3 December. Perla Gibson, Durban's 'lady in white', recalls
the weather in which the Inconstant (constant yet again!) brought the Llandafl
Castle survivors to port.

All through the night of 3 December 1942 - it was pouring with

rain - we waited until in the grey, moist dawn, we saw the silhouette of
HMS Inconstant coming into dock, her decks crowded with bedraggled
survivors wearing all sorts of odd scraps of clothing. Anything but
downcast ... they shouted, the moment they saw me, 'Give us a song',
and I responded with 'There'lI Always Be an England.' Lustily they
joined in ... 30

Later that day the visitors could be seen, says the Mercury, 'touring the
shopping centre in order to obtain clothing. A three-month-old baby was fitted
with a complete layette free of charge.' (Was this the baby who, according to
one interview, was handed from boat to boat of the five lifeboats until it
reached its mother?) One survivor told how the officers had seen the torpedo
coming along the surface of the sea, and had tried to swing the ship to port
helm, but too late. There was notably no panic: one child was heard to say, as it
was lowered from the sinking ship, 'Naughty boat, naughty boat to break.'
And, once again, as the lifeboats gathered off the sinking ship, came the
eerie arrival of the victor.
Suddenly, quite close, the submarine surfaced - and what a whopper
she was! I heard a voice call out in perfect English: 'Come alongside'
... The submarine's searchlight then flashed over each boat in turn. J
thought that this was the end, and that the next thing we would hear
would be machine-guns; but nothing like that happened. We heard her
motors start up and she slipped quite silently beneath the surface ...
The Llandaff Castle saga had one interesting complication, when two of the
lifeboats broke from the tow in heavy seas. Their story is reported in the
Mercury for 7 December. They landed on an uninhabited part of the northern
Zululand coast, from where the members of the crew carried a child for nearly
twenty miles 'in a blanket slung between ropes.' 'But', says the Mercury
V-Boats off Natal 89

cheerily, these survivors 'will be brought down by train from Zululand this
morning.' A compass from one of Llandaff Castle's lifeboats graces the
Provincial Assembly building in Pietermaritzburg to this day. Apparently a
Zulu headman, Mpahleni Zikali, gave considerable help to a splinter-group of
survivors, and later found a ship's compass in their deserted lifeboat. The neat
plaque donated along with the compass by the Union Castle Company does not
mention that, when the Administrator of Natal visited Zikali in 1946, the
compass was handed to him with the words: 'I no longer want this watch which
doesn't keep time ... ,11
Meanwhile, the far greater disaster of the Nova Scotia got no direct
mention - except, that is, for one grisly indirect mention that could no longer
be suppressed. Thus on 7 December: 'A huge number of bodies - not from
the Llandaff Castle - have been washed up along the North and South Coast
within the last few days. They include 10 SA soldiers. (Notice how the Nova
Scotia is alluded to as 'not the Llandaff Castle'!) For all the official
concealment, then, such graphic evidence meant that Nova Scotia entered
Natal's folk consciousness. Janie Malherbe says, in Port Natal: 'The people of
Durban were shaken into horrified awareness of the closeness of danger when
no less than 120 corpses were washed up on their city's hitherto gay holiday
beaches . . .'32
One speaks, no doubt, with the advantage of hindsight when one judges that
if official policy had been more open on such incidents, there would have been
no need for the Mercury leader of 9 December. Ships bringing the First
Division back home were now approaching port, and the story of what had
actually happened on 28 November would surely have made people more, not
less, tight-lipped. Instead we get this, under the heading 'Telling the Enemy'.
'No one', says the editorial, 'has complained more than we have about the
suppression of news.' On the other hand the paper has never questioned that
'there are occasions for absolute secrecy'. All the more reason to complain,
then, that
forty-eight hours before these ships (i.e. the troopships) reached
Durban on Monday half the population of Durban appeared to know not
only the approximate time of their arrival but also the ships in which
they (the returning soldiers) were coming. The reason for the leakage
was the desire to give the men a civic reception.
For indeed, in early December, the U-boat gruppe was still around.
Returning from the Mozambique channel, U-I77 sank on 14 December the
Dutch vessel Sawhloento of 3 085 tons, almost exactly abreast of Durban.
This was the tenth ship sunk by Liith's group off Natal, and their last victim
of 1942. The U-cruiser remnant of the original Eisbiir expedition was now
recalled, and the three U-cruisers were all back in Bordeaux by early
January. (Liith celebrated Christmas, says his log, 'in tropical heat 30 metres
under water, with a concertina going and a home-made tree. '33)
Whether or not this was a happy home-coming for the German crews it is
impossible to say. The colossal struggles around Stalingrad were now in
progress, and one wonders whether local editors in occupied France were as
much muffled from real events as their counterparts in Durban. Meanwhile
poor Durban, unaware that its maritime enemies were well on their way back to
Europe, had to endure Cl 'blacked-out' New Year. The Mercury for 1 January
- with its main headline 'Germans liquidated at Stalingrad' - evoked the
atmosphere. 'Present on the darkened streets' were the 'coon' bands,
90 V-Boats offNatal

their zest being undiminished by the fact that they could be heard but not
seen. Mr Edward Dunn, Director of Entertainments, last night toured the
principal Durban cinemas to announce the arrival of the First Division
and outlined today's arrangements. The arrangements were greeted by
loud cheering and applause, to which a number of the First Division men
present contributed in no small measure.
One of those who arrived in port on New Year's Day itself was Brian Godbold.
quoted above. The lesson of Nova Scotia had considerably delayed his
homecoming. 'For three days we had been steaming westward, so our
top-secret course must have taken us a long way towards India to elude the
submarine menace. We did not know then that the Nova Scotia ... had been
torpedoed. ,34

Phase Three
Phase Three of Natal's U-boat war opens with the arrival of Gruppe Seehund
off South Africa in February 1943. U-506, U-509, U-516 and U-160 fuelled
up at the 'milch-cow', as the sailors named U-459, south of St Helena.
Seehund arrived off Natal on 31 February. This group met with a less
amenable war situation: the palpable shocks of Nova Scotia and Llandaff
Castle had galvanised the Coastal Command. Ships moved in and out of
Durban, now. within a convoy system that was enforced all around South
Africa. Catalina squadrons, based at Durban and St Lucia, had a much
greater range than the valiant old Ansons. The Seehund logs admit for the
first time the demoralising sensation of being under radar beams, as detected
by their own 'Metox' equipment. Nevertheless, along with the later-arrived
U-182, the five boats did a great deal of damage off Natal, sinking seven
vessels in a fifteen-day sortie, before Seehund was recalled on 14 March. The
expedition does not rank so vividly in the literature, however, because no
passenger ships were involved, and there was no loss of life on the scale of
Nova Scotia.
Nevertheless, Seehund accounted for what might well be an undesirable
record in South Africa's military/naval history. One of its members dealt what
was probably the most ex pensi ve single salvo that has ever been fired from the
enemy in any South African naval action, and perhaps in any South African
action whatsoever. The story turns to Kapitanleutnant Lassen in U-160, who
patrolled off Port Shepstone on 1 March 1943.
Incidentally, Lasen' s coastal patrol, on I, 2 and 3 March from Port
Shepstone almost to the Bluff and back, is the only documented coastline
journey you will find in War in the Southern Oceans, whose maps are compiled
from the U-boat Jogs themselves. So ... ! of all the countless spottings of
conning towers, disappearing periscopes, cylindrical shadows, emerging swa­
stikas, megaphones shouting through the surf, that were so amply and ardently
reported by Natalians through 1942 and 1943, we can say that those who saw a
lonesome periscope off-shore between I and 3 March 1943 did perhaps see the
real thing! (We have to deglamourise a considerable local mythology. After
Eisbdr's Cape peninsula strike of October 1942, some 95 per cent of the
U-boat operation took place far off territorial limits.)
Having completed his patrol, Lassen lay at ease off Port Shepstone on
3 March. The Mercun for that day ran a nice editorial on the nagana
controversy - the main local debate of these months. It seems that a large
agricultural lobby wanted disease-bearing game shot out of Zululand. In the
V-Boats off Natal 91

Back in Lorient, France, U- 160 (foreground), which did the greatest damage of any
enemy unit operating off Natal. Her barnacled and patchy condition witnesses to her
long stint at sea. Notice the victory pennons, with ships' tonnages.
(Herzo!!: V-hollts ill Action )

typical metaphor of the day the Mercury called the Provincial 'action
committee' a 'committee of little Hitlers' , and stated that 'public opinion is
overwhelmingly against the slaughter of game.' Meanwhile, unknown to the
Mercury's genial readership, a life-and-death struggle between hunter and
hunted was going on right on its (maritime) doorstep!
At 2.00 p.m. on that day there occurred off Port Shepstone the fatal meeting
between U-160 and the eleven ship convoy 'DN.21', attended by the corvette
Nigella, and three Royal Navy armed trawlers. The long debate as to whether
convoys attract or dissuade attack would have given the argument on this
occasion to the more cynical school. In U-160, 'Kanonier' Lassen (as he was
known to the U-boat men - he had worked his way up from gunner to captain
in fifteen months") found it easy to follow the convoy through the afternoon
and into the night; it was pin-pointed by the navigation lights of escorting
aircraft. He followed DN .21 to a position off the Pondoland coast (but, as his
ambush started off Natal, I will still lay claim to this as a Natal story!) There he
did a very daring thing. He took adv antage of the cloudy night, and surfaced in
the middle of the convoy. So there was U-160, up in the open, penetrating the
two lines of slow-moving ships and avoiding (on the surface) the asdic search
of the escorts. At 11 .22 p.m. by his log he opened fire, and sent off what might
well have been the most destructive single salvo (three torpedoes) ever fired in
a South African engagement. He sank at once the American Harvey W Scott of
7 176 tons, the British Nirpura of 5961 tons, and severely damaged the Dutch
92 V-Boats off Natal

tanker Tibia of lO 356 tons (which eventually limped into Durban under its
own steam.)
An awful lack of prior drill or convoy discipline immediately became
apparent. Harvey W Scatt switched on her upper deck lights on impact, making
her own fatality all the more dangerous to her consorts. Viviana switched on a
searchlight to pick up survivors, and thus gave illuminated information to any
silent watcher. Nigella sent up star shells, the American Carolinian fired
indiscriminate tracer. Whi le chaos developed, U-160 bided her time, and then,
at 1.lO a.m. (4 March) fired another two torpedoes. The log claims two
sinkings, but in fact only the British Empire Mahseer of 5 087 tons was hit, and
she went down in less than two minutes. The convoy was now in complete
disarray, and Lassen c,)uld wait for another prime sighting, which he even­
tually got at 3.46 a.m. Two torpedoes each found their target, sinking the
British Marietta E, of 7 628 tons, and severely damaging Sheaf Crown. At last,
after 14 hours of chase, the convoy escort got the measure of Lassen's game.
U-160 discovered a destroyer coming straight for her, and so quietly slipped
away from the rout she had caused, and headed north for St Lucia.
It was the Durban base's biggest single disaster. Reaction was clumsy: the
rescue boat didn't get through the harbour boom until 4.45 a.m. At 7.31 a.m.
Nigella reported that DN.21 was reduced to five ships and one escort. Later
that day C-in-C Atlantic took over affairs and ordered the convoy to be
disbanded and all sailings out of Durban to be cancelled. The dismal tidings
had more effect far way in the British Prime Minister's office than in the local
press. Churchill commented to the Admiralty: 'We simply cannot afford losses
of this kind on this route'. Their response was that, since convoys were
introduced, only seven ships had been lost. Churchill was pacified, being sure
that they were, 'as ever, doing their best. ,]"
The nearest that Natalians might have got to guessing a new intensity in the
submarine war was the appearance of a communique, published, ironically, on
4 march, just as Lassen scored his final hits. This was from the naval C-in-C
South Africa:

The enemy has struck at our lines of communication ... the tide of land
war has receded in Africa, but the sea war has come closer to our
shores ... Never by word or deed give the enemy the slightest informa­
tion about the movement of ships at sea. To win the war at sea he must
have that information and he spends a fortune in an attempt to get it.

By that sleight of hand, which put the blame more on the fifth column than on
the convoy system or coastal defence, no factual information ever reached the
public. The story of DN.21 was never told, and the urgency of the HQ warning
was never enforced by honest facts. (The virtuous Mercury supported the call
to secrecy, though, with a rather nasty little regular slot which recorded the
names of those who were fined five pounds for not observing the black­
Meanwhile, off the Natal coast, just south of St Lucia mouth and in sight of
land, 'Kanonier' Lassen could, on 9 March, take his leisure in the knowledge
that he had received the congratulations of his Fiihrer and the award of Oak
leaves - the second U-boat commander to be so decorated within sight of
By 10 March many of DN.21's survivors were in hospitals in Durban, with
amazing stories to tell. (At least, one presumes they were the convoy survivors,
V-Boats off Natal 93

for the calamity itself was never publicised. But there were no other Natal
sinkings at the time.) One man interviewed by the Mercury recalled how his
lifeboat had tried to make way with 30 men on board: 'Before they had time to
push off, the ship capsized on top of the boat, which overturned ... the
suction was so terrific that our clothes were ripped off .. .' Then, after six
days battling with the ocean, another incident burns itself on the memory. One
of the exhausted rowers 'suddently rose, and in a matter-of-fact voice told the
others to carry on for a while. saying: 'I'm just strolling home for a cup of
coffee, fellows,' and walked over the side. They drew him back with difficulty,
and shortly after that he died.' Another survivor described how his ship had
'suddenly folded in two, stern meeting bow.'
Meantime U-160's trail of destruction continued. The American lames B
Stephens (7 176 tons) was dispatched on 8 March, and the night of 11 March
saw the end of the British Aelbryn, of 4 986 tons, off the North Coast. In the
tradition of Ltith before him, Lassen surfaced and spoke to the survivors in
what they later described as 'perfect English'. All but eight of them were
rescued by the Portuguese liner Lourenr;:o Marques. What with such an array
of successes, and with Hitler's radio message to Lassen, it seemed that a
hostile providence was agreeing with Robey Leibbrandt, who on 12 March
gave his pro-Hitler speech when he received the death sentence for treason
from Justice Schreiner. U -160' s activity off Natal in March 1943 must
constitute an undesirable record for damage done by a single operating unit of
the enemy.
But, back in occupied France, U-boat Command was not awed into false
optimism by Lassen's successes. In fact it was not satisfied by Seehund's
overall performance. It had been an almost one-man affair (though U-182
finished off the South African Aloe (5 047 tons) far south-east of Durban as the
group headed south.) On 14 March Seehund was recalled, and all had reached
the 'pens' at Lorient by 11 May - all, that is, except U-182 just mentioned.
And in her fate lay a bitter irony. We recall that the U-boats were instructed to
pick up the chief officers of victim vessels. Let us hope that the captain of Aloe
was hosted well before U-187 was itself wiped out by a US destroyer as it
neared home in France. Regarding the Seehund mission, U-boat Command
'passed the buck' rather as did their counterpart in Cape Town, blaming the
group's unsuccess not on themselves but on enemy Intelligence! South African
coastal defence was they said 'brilliantly supported by a system of spotters
along the coast.' The authors of War in the Southern Oceans take a very wry
view of this claim. The 'prolific reports' that saturated Naval HQ were 'almost
invariably false and distracting.' C. J. Harris recalls putting his crew at action
stations and steaming at full speed down the coast 'to ram a periscope sighted
off Durban'. It turned out to be 'a broomstick floating upright in the
water .. .'37
Before Seehund got home, however, the third phase of submarine activity off
Natal turned out not to be over. It was completed by the strange lone voyage of
the Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci under Captain Gazzana-Priaroggia.
Of the 26 ships (as I calculate) that were sunk by submarines off Natal and
Pondoland in World War II, only four were not felled by the Germans. One was
lost to the Japanese, and the other three to this Italian loner, whose April
expedition had begun with the notorious destruction of the Empress of Canada
off Las Palmas. By mid-April Leonardo da Vinci was off Natal, where it sank
the Dutch Sembilan (6 566 tons), the British Manaar (8 007 tons), and the
American John Dray ton (7 177 tons), all some 160 miles south-east of Durban.
94 V-Boats off Natal

The tenacious Durban tug Prudent went out to save some 25 survivors in
weather so ferocious that even the Ventura squadrons did not leave ground.
Meantime, the luckless captain of the Manaar suffered the same fate as his
confrere mentioned above: his host vessel was itself sunk, going down with all
hands on its return journey on 23 May.

Phase Four
Phase Four began in May 1943. Perhaps it was because of demoralisation in
the U-boat campaign that this last group to operate off South Africa did not
even bear a code-name. As it was, the successes of Eisbiir and Seehllnd
contrasted remarkably with what was happening in the Atlantic, when,
between August 1942 and May 1943, 122 U-boats were lost, 55 managed to
damage but not sink an Allied vessel, and 42 achieved no result at al1. 38 Off
Natal the greater effectiveness of coastal defence and surveillance was
illustrated at the new grllppe' s very first strike, when, at 2.12 p.m. on 17 May
off St Lucia, U-19H hit the British Northmoor (4392 tons). Within two hours
the submarine found itself circled by aircraft and patrol boats. They pursued
her right through till 8.45 p.m. on the 18th, when U-198 was engaged by an
RAF Catalina of 262 (St Lucia) squadron. The plane illuminated the sea, says
the U-boat's log, with a 'dazzling red light'. On this occasion, the U-boat's
deck guns had the better of it, and the Catalina had to limp back to St Lucia on
one engine.
A few more successes accrued to this small contingent: U-198 got the British
Dumra off Zululand on 5 June, and on 7 June, east of Durban, the 7 176 ton
American vessel William King. (Says the U-boat log menacingly: 'The captain
did not come on board until my invitation was emphasized with a burst from an
automatic pistol.') A more dramatic success had fallen to U-I78 on
1 June as it waited within sight of shore some 60 miles from the Durban Bluff
for the approach of convoy CD.20, which had already lost two ships to the
gruppe off Cape Agulhas. At last the convoy arrived, and, in the morning light,
U-I78 picked off the Dutch Salaballgka (6586 tons). But CD.20 did not fall
into disarray as DN.21 had done three months earlier, and the convoy limped
into Durban that evening. A tug attempted to tow in the crippled Dutch
freighter, but it foundered in the seas. (Incidentally, if Salabangka was
torpedoed where it was sighted, 60 miles off Durban Bluff, this would surely
be closer to Durban than Mendoza - 1 November 1942 - which was 70
miles off the Bluff.)
The strikes of early June 1943 were the last U-boat strikes close to Natal.
The gruppe scored more successes off Mozambique, and pottered on looking
for victims through June and July into August, but it seems incontrovertible
that Natal now 'commanded the sea'. South African coastal reconaissance, by
radar and by air, had greatly improved since July 1942. Dr F. J. Hewitt, a
sometime senior officer of the SSS, the South African Radar detection unit,
admits in a recent essay39 the problem of poor identification when radar was
first deployed. The locally-made receiver, the 'JB', was 'certainly not able to
distinguish quickly, if at all, between a fishing boat and a surfaced submarine',
so that 'Air Force crews soon tired of fruitless flights to find yet another
fishing boat ... '40 One can imagine the scepticism aroused by the fledgling
radar unit (a corps of 'mad scientists and beautiful women') in seasoned
airmen whose activity was itself dubbed 'a rest-cure for those who had had a
long spell in the Desert ... ', especially when one reads of some of the earlier
V-Boats off Natal 95

gaffes. Thus the Anson from No.42 Air School, which in December 1942
sighted over 30 ships 60 miles off Port Elizabeth, and, knowing of no home
convoy of that size, signalled an all-time emergency. A bomber squadron was
immediately despatched to take on what looked to be a full-scale Japanese
fleet, only to find wafting over the sea the rather beautiful effect of shadows of
cino-cumulus clouds cast upon the water' !41
Nevertheless, by August 1943, coastal radar - or shall we say coastal
radiographic surveillance - was giving the U-boats a hard time. And as for
the cynical airmen, it was their patrolling technique that had apparently given
the enemy some complacency. War in the Southern Oceans mentions an
interview in 1958 with ex-Korvettenkapitan Kentrat, of U-196. Apparently the
U-boat personnel traded on the belief that the coastal pilots 'habitually flew too
high and were observed by the look-out on the U-boat which had plenty of time
to submerge and frequently evade notice altogether. ,42 But by mid-1943 this
was no longer happening. See for instance U-196's log for 25 May: the captain
is scrutinising the Natal South Coast when he is forced to submerge by aircraft.
Later, when he returns to Natal from the Mozambique channel, he cannot
surface for fear of being spotted by the Mtubatuba Squadron (SAAF No.22
TBR). Squadron patrols keep him down for two days: only after midnight on
16 August can he surface and let his boat catch breath.
These mounting successes came to a head in what was surely Natal's
greatest local victory, and the memorable climax of its U-boat war. I refer to
the hunting and sinking of U-\97, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Bartels.
U-\97' s terminal voyage takes our story far off the Natal coast indeed. In fact
her last success, when, on 23 July, she torpedoed the 9 583 ton Swedish tanker
Pegasus, occurred 450 miles east of St Lucia. Remarkably, at that distance, the
entire crew was saved. (U-boat captains were instructed, one gathers, not to
respect neutrality in the case of Swedish ships 'not listed in the Gateborg
traffic'.) The hulk of Pegasus was still blazing when, days later, it was spotted
600 miles east of Durban. Having despatched the Swede, U-\97 headed even
further east, little realising that, at such a distance, she was still not safe from
scrutiny by South African coastal Intelligence. The unsung heroes on this
occasion are referred to in the literature as D/F - Direction Finding, but
otherwise not identified in the logistical data. D/F now became engaged in the
most exciting maritime hunt of our local war. They managed to 'bust' the radio
communication between the four U-boats of the gruppe (ironically, a conversa­
tion as to the best meeting-place to pass on to each other 'Bellatrix', a
newly-issued cypher code!) Radio signals on their own do not identify
position, but it seems that, on 17 August, a careless reference by U-\97
(Bartels), in its operational report to U-\8\ (UHh), enabled D/F to plot a
voyage-path. So, at 7.10 p.m. on 19 August, R/F was able to offer combined
HQ a grid reference for the route of the enemy vessel. And on 20 August,
Flight-Lieutenant O. Barnett, in an RAF Catalina of 259th St Lucia Squadron,
was directed to a point in the ocean far from base, some five to six hundred
miles due east of St Lucia, and \ 00 miles south of Madagascar. When one
thinks of the years of patrolling, of all the dubious alarms and the close shaves,
it seems nothing short of miraculous that Barnett should emerge at 1.10 p.m.
out of cloud over the vast anonymous ocean, and see 'a large white-cap at the
limit of visibility'. The sea was rough, but 'with the aid of binoculars he could
make out U-\97 on an easterly course, doing about 10 knots on the
surface. '43
Immediately Barnett executed a port-side diving turn in order to approach
96 V-Boats off Natal

With Durban Bluff and Salisbury Island in the background, the surrendered Italian
sumarine Ammiraglio Cagni. Revd Arthur Attwell, who was on the veteran HMS
Caradoc when it sailed out of Durban to effect the capture, remembers both the shock
and the delight at the size of the U-cruiser as she surfaced.
(Local History Mu.,eum, Durban)

U-197 in an opposite course but at the correct angle for straddling, At the last
moment U-197 turned in the direction of the plane, and the six depth charges,
dropped from 50 feet, missed target. Only the Catalina's front and port blister
guns scored hits on the submarine's deck and conning tower (Barnett could see
'the brown overalls and flat blue caps of her gun crews' as he veered
overhead). In fact, it was these gun-strikes from the aircraft that eventually
proved decisive. It became obvious as the duel went on (the U-boat manouevr­
ing not to be caught 'straddled') that, with her listing appearance and tell-tale
oil streaks, she was hardly fit to submerge. This she attempted at 1.45 p.m., but
at 2.23. she had to come up again, and at 3.46 radioed her sister vessels (120
miles south) that she was no longer able to dive. This was her last message.
Meanwhile Barnett, who had expended his depth-charges, could only circle
and leave a trail of flares, in the hope that other Catalinas might spot the
position . At last, at 5.05 p.m., he was joined by N1265, manned by Flight
Officer C.E. Robin . Desperately Bartels tried to angle U-197 to the aircraft's
dive. Robin's first two runs were unsuccessful, but then, at 5.30 p.m., Bartels
misjudged the aircraft's third attack, and was straddled by six depth-charges,
dropped from 75 feet. 'Debris flew into the air, and the U-boat disappeared
leaving a large patch of oil on the surface. ' For half an hour the Cata­
linas - the only local aircraft with the range for this operation - circled the
area, but there was nothing more to be seen, and they flew on to Madagascar
for re-fuelling .
So ended the U-boat war off Natal - and, indeed, in any operational sense,
V-Boats off Natal 97

off South Africa. (There were some lone hits far south in the Atlantic while
Germany and Japan exchanged materiel and personnel in late 1944 and 1945.)
No doubt the vantage of hindsight is a privileged one, but it does seem
remarkable that this epic duel, with its great capacity to boost local morale.
went unremarked in the local or national press. In fact, even when - in a final
whiff of maritime excitement - the submarine Ammiraglio Cagni gave itself
up after the Italian Armistice, and was escorted into Durban on 20 September
1943, there was no pUblicity. After that, Allied shipping started to move
through the Mediterranean again, and the 'strategic significance of the Cape
route was diminished to a level unknown since Italy entered the war in June
So it is only in retrospect that we can piece together a story that had many
epic moments, the story of 'U-boats off Natal'.

Author's Note
One's debt to War in lhe S(llIlhem Oceans is so large as to render one's narrative really a
re-arrangement and a 'rersrective' on its authors' original research - itself having the incompar­
able advantage of access to the U-boat logs. So although I only cite my verbatim references to this
work, the bulk of uetail does derive, nevertheless, from its pages.
The author would like to thank Ms Fiona Woollam of the Natal Museums Service, and Commander
W. M. Bissett, Senior Staff Officer South African Naval Museums, for. suggestions pertaining to the


References to the Nalal Mcrcurv: Dates of quotations are identified in the text.

l. C.l. Harris, \l'ar al Sea: South Afrlcwl kJaritime Operations during World War If. t\shanti
Publ ishing, Ri vonia 199 L pp. 336-7.
2. L.C.F. Turner. H. R. Gordon-Cullnlling and 1.E. Betzler, War in lhe Soulhem Oceans
(/939-45), Cape Town. Oxford University Press 1961. p. 86 (hereafter WSO).
3. WSO, p.109.
4. Viscount Cunningham, A Sailor's Odyssey, London, Hutehinson 1951. p.433.
5. G.c. Visser, OB: Traitors or Patriots!, Lonuon. Macmillan 1976, p.116 (hereafter Visser).
ti. Visser. p.SO.
7. Visser, p. 199 (trans. Visser).
8. Visser, p.81.
9. Visser, p.86 ff.
10. lanie Malherbe, Port Natal, Howard Timmins 1965, p. 21 0 (hereafter Malherbe).
11. WSO, p.96.
12. WSO, p.161.
13. MendoZl1 had been a Vichy French ship. captured more by argument than force outside
Montevideo by HMS Asturias. She was sufficiently damaged to warrant sOfIle repair. and this
was effected in Montivideo using steel plating from the scuttled Gra(Spee! In fact, thosc who
believe that Justice movcs in circles will note that Asturias was later put out of commission by
the Ammiraglill Cllgni, the enemy submarine that was eventually to surrender outside Durban.
Harris, p.77 IT
14. WSO, p.194.
15. Bodo Hcrzog, V-boote im Einsatz, Dorheim. Podzun Verlag 1970, p.49 (hereafter Herzog).
Luth was credited with 46 sinkings.
98 V-Boats off Natal

16. Naval Lists, 1943. Why was 'Inconstant' not given a worthIer name, like others in the I 370 ton 'I'
Class Destroyers, such as 'Imperial' or 'Impulsive'? Perhaps because she deserted her baptismal
name soon after her birth! Built for the Turkish Navy as 'Gayret', she was requisitioned, on
completion at Barrow, by the Royal Navy in January 1942, and re-named for the 'J' class. A smaller
vessel than U-181, she would nevertheless easily have out-gunned and out-paced a surfaced
submarine, having a speed of 36 knots. After the war she continued her career for Turkey, with her
original name 'Gayret'! (My thanks to Eddie Oxley of Durban for the reference: lane's Filihting
Ships, 1944-5.)
17. Brian Godbold, Mountains, Bullets and Blessings, Kloof 1989, privately published, p. 317 (hereafter
18. lan Uys, Survivors of" Africu's Oceans, Germiston, Fortress Publishers 1993, p,84 (hereafter
19. Uys, p.91.
20. Uys, p,75.
21. Uys, p. 93,

22, Herzog, p, 51: WSO, p, 248,

23. Herzog, p. 57.

24. WSO, p. 194,

25. WSO, p. 165,

26, WSO, p.I64.

27, Uys, p. 58; but see Herzog, p. 181.

28. Harris, p. 334,

29. Uys,p.II'i.

30. Perla Siecllc Gibson, Durban's Lady in White: An Autobiography cd. Sam MorJey, (Aedificamus
Press, 1991), p. 67.
31. Uys, p. 131.
32. Malherbe, p.21.
33, WSO, p.201.
34. Godbold, p.321.
35. Herzog, p. 186.
36. WSO, p.21O.
37. WSO, p.215.
38. Herzog,. 204.
39. Peter Brain, South African Rudur in World Wur 1/, Cape Town and Johannesburg, The SSS Radar
Book Group, 1993, p. 139 ff. (hereafter Brain).
40. Brain, pp. 152-3.
41. WSO, p. 205.
42. WSO, p.223.
43. This detail from M,u1in/Orpen, p.278/9, but the reconstruction on the whole is taken from WSO
p. 243 ff. M,u1in and Orpen (1979) seem to have found a source since WSO (1961), but don't disclose
it. They are surely wrong to suggest that the attack started at 12.10 p.m.
44. Martin and Orpen, p.279.
Anthony and Maggie Barker (Died 1993)
Giving and Receiving*
Anthony and Maggie Barker met death as they had lived their devoted
lives ~ in tandem. They were tragically killed by a truck while cycling to the
Lake District to celebrate their Golden Wedding. This remarkable couple in
their seventies leave behind them a legend of love.
Their death has awakened memories for many in South Africa who knew
them as medical missionaries in the tiny village of Nqutu in Zululand. From
their arrival in 1947 at the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital - a sorry
institution with eight iron beds, several patients, wooden boxes on a cooker to
serve as incubators for premature babies and a carpenter's saw as a surgeon's
knife ~ the brilliant surgeon and the compassionate pediatrician left their
mark on our land.
Living simply in a thatched rondavel beside a small dilapidated chapel,
inspired by the example of Livingstone and Schweitzer and Zululand's own
Charles F. Marquart Johnson, they laboured to win the trust of the Zulu people.
They laboured too nationally and internationally to raise funds to expand and
improve facilities. In this they succeeded mightily. When they left after a stay
of almost thirty years they had transformed 'Charlie J' into a spruce,
well-equipped hospital with hundreds of beds. To their staff and patients and to
the thousands of out -patients whom they treated in clinics they founded and
serviced in remote corners of this wild territory, they were affectionately
known as 'Umhlekehlatini' ('He who laughs in the forest' - a reference to
Anthony's bushy beard) and 'Ngoma', (,She who does not wear shoes').
I first saw Anthony Barker on 22 January 1954, the 75th Anniversary of the
Battle of Isandlwana. He stood on the plinth of the memorial to the 24th, the
South Wales Borderers, set against the backdrop of the eerie Sphinx-like
mountain. Beside him a grizzled kehla in full battle array brandished shield and
assegai and recounted his experiences as a child shield-bearer on that terrible
day, whilst the stocky little doctor in his warm Brummagem accent interpreted.
It was a grand theatrical moment and Anthony revelled in it as he did in all
occasions. Later that day he performed a tour de force in preaching a sermon in
Zulu at St Vincent's. He had been only seven years in South Africa and yet was
a part of it.
A World War II veteran (as merchant navy ship's surgeon) Anthony
possessed something of the rollicking bonhomie of 'Doctor in the House'
relishing the fleshpots of the hospitable little village. On Christmas Day after a
heavy early morning stint at the clinic he'd float in the Wilmot's pool, a

100 Obituaries

champagne glass balanced on his stomach and munching contentedly on his

ham and turkey. Indeed a feature of his routine visits to outlying clinics was the
hearty breakfasts with old Mrs Wilmot, lunches at Mangeni with Blanche van
Tonder and dinners with Mrs Mitchell. They welcomed him - he brought
love and laught~r and good talk.
The Barker's views and behaviour did not always meet with approval. Some
white people regarded them, but especially Margaret, as eccentric, sitting on
mats instead of chairs, eating traditional Zulu foods and going barefoot in order
to establish closer rapport with their patients. Yet their fierce disapproval of
apartheid policies was couched in such gentle, temperate terms that they
caused little offence. To the government they were a thorn in the flesh and in
the end they themselves became victims of high apartheid, for their support of
fugitive so-called subversives like Bram Fischer.
Highly disciplined and motivated and endowed with remarkable stamina, the
Barkers knew the fullness of life. Driven bounding and slithering over rutted
tracks Anthony would read the latest Medical Iournal; even walking with
Margaret through the forest at Qudeni he would read aloud to her. Photogra­
phy, needlework and painting were tucked into the frantic programme of
surgery and midwifery they faced daily. Yet young idealists from all over the
world could sit at their feet for hours discussing the great truths of Christianity
or drinking in Anthony's wonderful knowledge of folklore. One remembers
gratefully in these violent times quiet happy hours spent padding about the
hospital or sitting on the banks of the Buffalo River at Fugitive's Drift. One is
grateful for the influence of the wise, compassionate couple upon one's young
children. The Barkers left behind them a legacy of love and understanding that
will serve the new South Africa well.
They were honoured overseas for their work in Africa, Anthony by the
C.B.E. in 1975 and Maggie by the Silver Cross of St George. Anthony's
mastery of language could enchant. Michaelhouse school once honoured him
by making him guest speaker at Speech Day. He rose, endearing unaffected
soul, clad in a quaint suit of lilac tweed, run up by Margaret on the hospital's
ancient Singer - a truly homespun contrast to the mohair, custom-made
suitings of the Governors. Simply, almost tenatively - he was a nervous
public speaker - he began. As the voice rose and the words rolled, the
spiritual grace of the man took over. The schoolboys were magnetized, as were
the parents. He stood amazed, with a beaming smile, as they saluted him with a
standing ovation - for his message had been a challenging and an uncomfort­
able one for that privileged company.
Such was the Barker's swansong. Inexorably the clamps of apartheid were
screwing tighter. Government was to take over control of the Charles Iohnson
Memorial Hospital and no amount of defiance was going to stop it. Moves
were made at high level to retain the services of these distinguished medical
workers in the Province of Natal or the K waZulu Government. But Pretoria
refused to permit them to stay and minister to the Zulus whom they now loved
dearly and who loved them - a relationship too dangerous to contemplate in
the era of high apartheid. They were forced to leave in 1975.
Nqutu lost much of its gusto when the Barkers left. They kept in touch
through Anglican Church channels, and while working overseas for other good
causes, never lost sight of the needs of the Zulu people. Many of us visited
them in their leafy eyrie in Wimbledon and felt instantly at home in the warmth
and charm of the house decorated with familiar souvenirs of their sojourn in
our land - Rorkes Drift rugs and coffee mugs, Vukani baskets, photographs
Obituaries 101

of smiling black faces. We showed them a video of Rorke' s Drift and told them
of plans to restore the famous battlefields, build schools, promote the arts and
crafts and generally uplift the communities.
Typically, a few months later a cheque for a hundred pounds arrived, with a
special plea for the care of St Vincent's at Isandlwana. Anthony and Maggie
had pedalled through France and raised the money as they went.
It is good that they rode to meet their Lord, still full of love for each other
and for mankind at large. At Christmas we shall miss their striking hand­
scripted cards bearing a messsage that touched the heart - the heart of our
personal dilemma and of our nation's agony. It is tragic that at this juncture our
land is deprived of the wise and loving counsel of Anthony and Maggie

* The sub-title of the obituary refers to the title of Anthony Barker's book (with its own sub-title 'An
adventure in African medical experience'). It was published by the Faith Press in 1959, and by
Fontana Books in 1962, under the title The Man Nexr to Me.

Derek Milton Leigh

In a large oil painting depicting Cetshwayo's capture by British forces, on

which he was working shortly before his death in July 1993, Dick Leigh
draws together an entire range of interests that had earlier been variously
reflected in his work over an artistic career spanning more than 30 years.
The painting has a dejected, well-lit, figure of Cetshwayo being held at
lance and gunpoint by redcoated British soldiers. The figures are all to some
degree stylized, and simplified, and placed in stage-like sequence on the left
and right flanks of the format. This sense of a staged event is characteristic of
much ofLeigh's work, pointing to an interest in theatricality closely allied to
his interest in pictoriality.
The shafts of light which delineate the major players in this historical event
are not unlike the carefully-placed beams of stage spotlighting, directing the
viewer to a key moment in the narrative. Much of Leigh's landscape work,
too, has this quality of :1. large set, built in nature and serving as an arena for
the human participants in events which are aften cyclical in character, such as
seasonal changes.
The studied sense of placement which this approach to painting implies, is
evident too in the many still-lifes and interiors painted by Leigh, A nice
balance between objects seemingly casually observed and those more
deliberately sited is always struck, with the clear, controlled lighting again
tending to act as the delineating agent in these subdued domestic dramas.
Stage design relies often on a specific sense of decor and embellishment,
and in this way too some parallels can be drawn between Leigh's paintings
and the worlds of dramatic irony and narrative, The linear reduction of the
foliage, the soldiers' uniforms, the shields and the regalia of the Zulu guards
in the painting of Cetshwayos's capture, for example, refers intriguingly to
the simplification and patterning typical of stage props.
The play of humour, romanticism and irony bound up with the event is
equally well conveyed in an earlier historical piece, The arrival of fan van
102 Obituaries

Riebeeck in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, 1952 (1991). In this painting

Leigh's interest in history, chiefly South African and European history, is
apparent, as is his sense of locality and the transfer of sets of cultural values
and architectural styles from one community to another. These same concerns
are present in a side to his work perhaps less well known than his painting, that
is his writing and research.
In an article in Theoria, 1992, entitled 'The Empire paints back', Leigh
explores the processes which govern the perception of artworks and, particu­
larly, the different visions which spectators may have of art and the physical
world, depending upon their differences in educational and cultural
background. His know lege of and insight into the historical attitudes under­
pinning Western art theory forms the basis in this article for an inquiry into the
reasons for the eventual dominance of Western modes of visual representation
throughout much of the world. By tracing the history of conventions such as
perspective and shading, and by analysing the role of photography, Leigh
makes several telling points about what he refers to as 'the colonization of
vision'. Some similar themes are explored in his thesis for a Master's degree in
the History of Art, in which attitudes to war and violence in the Napoleonic era
are tested against the daily realities of that turbulent period.
The romanticization of violent periods and events interested Leigh, and the
political pressures that informed the Romantic artist's conception of an
historical event, which are the kinds of things described in the thesis, clearly
attracted Leigh's interest in relation to more contemporary, local, develop­
In Leigh's painting and in his writing there is, then, a consistency of aim and
expression evident over a long productive career. His interests were equally
consistently developed and disseminated in another sphere, and that was in his
It was as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art and
History of Art on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of Natal that
Leigh spent the greater part of his teaching life, some 23 years in all. He had
previously worked for short spells as a school teacher in Zambia and as a
Lecturer at the University College which was the forerunner of the University
of Durban-Westville, and at the Natal Technikon.
The compass of his teaching skills was exceptional. Working easily in the
diverse fields of art education, art history and theory, painting and drawing,
Leigh communicated a deep love for his subject to generations of students
ranging from fledgling first-years, to post-graduates. Past students frequently
recall the liveliness of his criticism sessions, his sensitivity and perceptiveness
in acknowledging the individual strengths and capacities of each student in his
A gauge of the admiration which his academic colleagues had for his
teaching capabilities is the number of occasions on which Leigh was appointed
as an external examiner by other institutions, or invited to conduct workshops
or special classes for them, notably at the Universities of Fort Hare and the
Always generous with his time, especially if it was to help promote art
locally, Leigh worked collaboratively not only with other academic institutions
but also with clubs, societies and schools; acted as an adjudicator for art
competitions; presented informal talks, and wrote critiques and short articles
for publication in the Natal Witness. The Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritz­
burg, the Natal Arts Trust and the Natal Society of Arts all enjoyed Leigh's
Obituaries 103

constructive assistance and support over the years.

As an always locally prominent artist Leigh had begun to gain a not
inconsiderable national reputation during the past decade, having had his
works publicly exhibited on more than 35 occasions during this period,
including two exhibitions in Germany. He is represented in the permanent
collections of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Durban Art Gallery and the
Tatham Art Gallery, and featured in the prestigious Cape Town Triennial in
1985 and 1988. Recognition for his fine balance of French influences (he
studied briefly in France in the 1960s) and harder, more angular, African
physical properties was rapidly growing at the time of his passing.
The wide range of interests and geographically scattered contributions
notwithstanding, there was ultimately a very specific focus of activities in
Leigh's life and work, and that was on the environs of Pietermaritzburg. From
his studies at the local university in the 1960s, through his several teaching
appointments in its Department of Fine Art and History of Art, and in his
extensive body of paintings and drawings, his warm engagement with the local
community was always paramount.

Professor A. S. Mathews (1930-1993)

Tony Mathews refused all his life to accept official lies. Like the child in the
fable, he asked such revealing questions about the emperor's clothes that
evidence of his nakedness could no longer be ignored.
It took considerable courage. When he gained prominence in the mid-60s,
the authorities wielded new weapons - like 90 and 180-day solitary deten­
tion. Faced with worsening state oppression, most people kept silent, fearing
they would be detained or worse. In addition, Professor Mathews's particular
targets - the judges of the highest court in the country - were treated as
being beyond even reasoned academic criticism.
Those were the worst of times for the Appellate Division. The government
packed the court with its supporters, then insisted that its new servant was
separate and independent. This created an aura of legal respectability for the
state, with the court loyally upholding the legitimacy of every new inroad into
civil liberties.
In 1966, Professor Mathews and a fellow Natal University academic,
psychology professor Ronald Albino, wrote an incisive article on the new
provisions for three and six months' detention without trial. They discussed the
proven impact of lengthy solitary confinement and interrogation on detainees,
then analysed key Appellate Division decisions related to these provisions. In
the light of their findings, the two professors questioned the court's commit.
ment to values like individual freedom.
Their questions cracked the carefully constructed fiction of Appellate
Division independence and led to decades of debate on the duties of judge:,
faced with unjust legislation. A more personal result was that for several years,
a number of Supreme Court judges whom Professor Mathews had known
socially refused to speak to him.
Where did Professor Mathews find his courage? Perhaps it was nurtured by
revulsion at the injustices he observed as a child growing up in Louis
104 Obituaries

Trichardt. The racism and pro-Nazism of many townspeople gave him a

life-long sensitivity to oppression and a commitment to human rights. Perhaps
it was the influence of friends in the Liberal Party, which he served as a
national executive member.
A passion for justice and human rights emerges in his books and articles,
which his long-time friend, UCT politics professor David Welsh, says gave
him an international reputation as a legal philosopher. The same passion
inspired his work in setting up the Centre for Criminal Studies in Maritz­
Professor Mathews worked briefly as an attorney and was admitted to the
Natal Bar, although he never practised. However, when the government began
handing out 'honorary senior counsel' status to certain legal academics, he was
overlooked. Some friends, like Wits law professor John Dugard, said the
government had clearly never forgiven him for his role in challenging the
judiciary. Others felt Professor Mathews would have regarded it as an attempt
to 'buy him off and would have been embarrassed by such a gesture.
He never lost his concern about the judiciary's role. He recently remarked
that the courts had a new challenge: ensuring that social reconstruction did not
conflict with the fundamental rights of the individual. 'With a new and
legitimate government, it will be easier to give in to the curtailment of
individual rights,' he said.
Another time, reflecting on the damage done by apartheid, he said the
long-term impact of 'apartheid judges' on the common law was often
overlooked. They had woven interpretations based on apartheid and security
legislation into the common law. This damage could not be undone by simply
repealing legislation.
The current consensus about the need for a bill of rights, a fair system of
security laws and a judiciary committed to promoting the rule of law is in many
ways his legacy to the country. Professor Mathew's death [in August 1993]
means that he did not see them materialise.
However, his writing, teaching and example have been so influential that if
any future rulers were to pass unjust laws or try to co-opt the courts, there
should now be many voices to take up the cry that the emperor has no
(Courtesy of the Sunday Times)

Robert 'Treeman' Mazibuko (1908-1994)

'When you bury me, give no speeches. Tell the officiating minister to refrain
from saying earth to earth, dust to dust and ashes to ashes. This is a cliche
, cause I know this for a fact ... '
Almost 48 hours later the clarion caller was ready to be buried.
Robert 'Treeman' Mazibuko made his burial wish known last Saturday
during a thanksgiving party thrown by his children at Edendale. On Monday
the Lord subpoenaed him to his destination.
'Better be said that Mazibuko joins the great men of deeds, great men like
Sikhakhane (Reverend E. Z.); the Nyembezis (family of noted scholars and
great clergy of the Methodist Church). This will be the best way to plant
Obituaries 105

inspiration and role models for our young people,' said Mazibuko. May the
green teachings of Treeman be cast in some form of everlasting symbolism.
Internationally known as Treeman, Mazibuko was a committed 'enviroman'
long before global environmentalism became a widely-accepted discipline.
But those who were lucky enough to enter his spiritual hut know the other
side of the 01' man they call Treeman. Like a real tree of life, he had many
branches; he was also a formidable philosopher and a down-to-earth inter­
In 1992 he was honoured by being asked to plant the 'Tree of International
Friendship' in recognition of the countries which helped to establish the
training centre that he founded in Edendale.
Of his philosophy, it was based on the power of self-conviction. When he
thought he was right, he stood by his conviction, irrespective of what the
prevailing experts in a particular field thought.
'We can do without industrialisation, but can we survive without food?'
asked Mazibuko more than 30 years ago. Not everybody loved him for his
ferocious self-conviction. This earned him the adjective of being 'controver­
sial' in certain academic corridors.
The first time I was privileged to meet him was on December 3, 1978. His
different outlook was revealed as I walked into his smart Edendale bungalow at
the Edendale Lay Ecumenical Centre.
Hanging on his living room walls was an array of portraits of South African
and world leaders. From King Zwelithini to Sobhuza Ill, the English Royal
House, Dr H.F. Verwoed, President Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon lohnson,
Ghana's Dr Nkwame Nkrumah, Winston Churchill and, to my shock of
shocks ... Adolf Hitler!
'Hitler shocks you, I can see that my son,' smiled the philosopher. 'I salute
him for opening the eyes of international oppressors in the name of colonists.
The world powers could not fight Europe's apartheid and end there. They had
to logically complete the job by granting independence to Africa and
elsewhere. '
Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi, who was offficiating at Mazibuko's 'farewell
party' on Saturday, said not half the people who have been officially honoured
locally have achieved what Mazibuko has. Nyembezi said the consolation is
that new historians are still going 'to write the full story about this man of
virtue'. After the party Sipho Ford wondered audibly why universities in Natal
ignored Mazibuko when bestowing honorary doctorates? Local Earthlife
Africa chairwoman Anne Harley this week called on the city council to
immediately recognise Mazibuko's work by granting him civic honours
The greatest national honour that the present government can give to
Mazibuko would be a decisive democratisation of December 16 as a holiday.
Philosophising on it, as he looked into the Blood River massacre, his face was
flushed with a sad look to his eyes: 'What a tragedy for this country that a
covenant of revenge and vengeance was taken to calendars for continual
remembrance. We need to think again about December 16 - especially now
that we live in the 20th century'. He said this in December 1978, and he could
have updated his wish by saying 'especially now that we live in the Rainbow
country ... '
Looking back at the great philo-enviro-internationalist, I cannot help but say
English philosopher Richard Cumberland was dead right when he observed
some 300 years ago: 'Better to wear out than rust out'. In Zulu it encourages:
106 Obituaries

D.M. Leigh A. S. Mathews

(Photograph: Natal WiTness) (PhoTograph: Natal WiTness)

R. Mazibuko A.J. Milne

(PhoTograph: Na/al Willless) (PhoToKraph: NaTal Willless)
Obituaries 107

Q. M. Ntombela E. Z. Sikhakhane
(Photo}iraph: Natal Witness)

'Kungcono ukuguga kunokukhahlaka'. Born on December 31, 1908 , Mazibuko

did not rust; he was always an oiled turbo engine until the Creator demanded of
us to jontly bid him farewell in flesh, blood and soul on Monday. Hamba Kahle
Baba ...
(Courtesy of the Natal Witness , 13 July 1994)

Alexander John Milne (1929-1993)

A devastating loss befell the South African judiciary and, indeed, the country's
legal profession when on 17 December 1993, a day before his 65th birthday ,
the death occurred unexpectedly of Mr Justice John Milne while on holiday
with his wife in England.
That he should have been thus struck down in his intellectual prime at the
pinnacle of a brilliant career and, apparently, while in sound health was a
circumstance of fate as cruel and capricious as it was unheralded.
Alexander John Milne was born in Durban on 18 December 1929 and was
destined to become in time the illustrious son of an illustrious father. After
matriculating from Hilton College he read law at Exeter College, Oxford,
before returning home to be admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court of
South Africa, Natal Provincial Division, on 12 June 1953.
108 Obituaries

Having set his foot firmly on the path of the Law, John Milne followed
surprisingly closely in the footsteps of his father, the late Mr Justice Alexander
Milne (universally and very affectionately known as Sandy) who, after
similarly reading law at Exeter, had in his time established a flourishing
practice at the Natal Bar where he was held in the highest esteem, as in later
years was his son, John, by friend and adversary alike.
Following an acting judgeship in 1968 at the remarkably young age of
thirty-nine, John Milne was appointed permanently in March 1971 to the Natal
Bench where until October 1969 his father had presided ~.s Judge President of
Natal, a judicial office of prominence John Milne was himself destined to hold
from October 1982 to December 1987. From then until his untimely death he
was a judge of appeal in the Appellate Division in Bloemfontein where Sandy
Milne, too, had held an appointment some years before.
Although their careers followed much the same course, albeit a generation
apart, their paths crossed professionally on one occasion when for a period in
1968 and 1969 father and son shared the rare, if not unique, distinction of
sitting together as judges in the same division of the Supreme Court.
A bald catalogue of John Milne's achievments at the Bar and on the Bench
cannot possibly hope to illustrate the immense intellectual capacity he
commanded to absorb the full spectrum of the law, or to reflect his ability to
apply its provisions in his own inimitable and scholarly fashion to the
kaleidoscope of disputes and miscreants that passed in a constant parade before
For some, fortunate to be in his court at the time, a vivid illustration of his
judicial prowess and, without doubt, his physical stamina was to be seen at the
trial in late 1983 and early 1984 of the murderers, Grundlingh and Phillips.
After five exacting months overseeing the proceedings, hearing evidence and,
on occasion, questioning a witness in his painstaking and courteous manner,
Judge Milne commenced his summing up extempore and, almost six hours
later with only the lunch aujournment to interrupt him, he ended his address.
His performance on centre stage, for such it unquestionably was, was a
spellbinding masterpiece of precision and clarity.
A multitude of his judgments, scattered throughout the South African Law
Reports over many years, will remain a monument to his very considerable
contribution to the development of our law and to the administration of justice
in South Afric:l. They will bear testimony, too, to John Milne's judicial
acumen, to the lucidity of his style and to the impeccable language in which
they are couched. All in all, they reflect the quiet refinement, dignity and
personal elegance that were the hallmarks of the man himself.
That his death is a grievous loss to the cause of justice there can be no doubt.
Equally so, in the changing fabric of our society, the law and its development
by way of judicial interpretation will be deprived of his valuable experience
and his wisdom. But, perhaps, most grievous of all is the incalculable loss
South Africa itself must likely bear in these times of social adjustment when
the soundness of his judgment and the breadth of his vision could have
contributed very substantially to the process of reform and, more especially, to
a clearer understanding and definition of such legal complexities as personal
liberties, the equitable restoration of land to the dispossessed, the concept of
ownership and other probable conflicts of a private or a public kind that are
likely to be encountered on the road upon which our country's journey is now
It was said of his father and may now without question be said of John Milne
Obituaries 109

that he was consumed by an intense and burning sense of justice and of what
was right and of what was wrong. It was these qualities, which he evinced in
abundance from his earliest years, that placed him at the forefront of his
Alexander John Milne bore an illustrious and honourable name. He carried
it, unsullied, throughout his life and it now remains with us, beyond reproach
or decay, to enrich our legal heritage and as an enduring memorial to a wise
and able judge and a universally respected gentleman.

Qumbu Magqubu Ntombela (c.J900-J993)

Qumbu Magqubu Ntombela died at his home near the entrance gate of
Umfolozi Game Reserve on 21 October 1993 after a short illness. A most
remarkable man has gone from the complex scene of wilderness and wildlife·
conservation. His knowledge of trees, birds, animals, the wild, and the oral
history of the Zulus and their relationship to the land was phenomenal by any
Born about 1900 in the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War with its violent
upheavals, Magqubu remembered his mother carrying him to the waggon track
leading from Nongoma to Somkele and pointing out King Dinuzulu being
taken to Grey town for trial, accused of fomenting the Zulu or Bambatha
rebellion. It was a sight that haunted Magqubu and he would describe in detail
the uniforms of the troops who made the arrest, and the expression on the face
of the king.
Magqubu grew up on the green hills of Ongeni that lie midway between
Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Game Reserves. His father and the family were
removed by the Department of Veterinary Services in 1945 during the tsetse fly
campaign. They were promised they could return when the fly was eliminated.
As with many other promises to tribal people, this was not honoured.
As a young Zulu, Magqubu herded the goats and learnt his natural history
from the men in the kraal. His extraordinary eyesight, athletic body, quick
mind and his knowledge of wild animals made him a popular guide for the
white hunters who came to shoot game in the buffer zones around the game
reserves. At sixpence a week and at 12 years old, he led them to the big game.
His prowess reached the ears of Mali Mdhletshe, a senior game guard in the
employ of Frederick Vaughan-Kirby, the chief game conservator appointed by
the Natal Provincial Administration in 1911. Mali sought and obtained
Magqubu's father's permission to employ the young boy and Magqubu began
his career as an udibi or carrier, for Vaughan-Kirby in 1914. Mali and his
brother Mankentshane and other guards broadened Magqubu's knowledge.
Formal schooling to teach even the rudiments was unavailable, but Magqubu
was to say, 'My ears are my books, and my lips are my pen.' From udibi he
graduated to labourer and then game guard and wilderness trail leader. He
worked until 1989.
Magqubu's keen observational powers, his loyalty and his courage became a
byword. Until he retired from the Natal Parks Board in 1954 he was in the front
line of the conservation struggle, fighting poaching gangs, arresting illegal
white hunters, and being trusted to carry the wages from Hluhluwe Game
Reserve to Mkuze and Ndumu Game Reserves. Few men could keep up with
110 Obituaries

him while he trotted and walked, covering the distance between the reserves in
a day. He worked with Roden Symons and then R. H. T. P. Harris who relied on
Magqubu to lead the gang who checked the fly traps and brought the tsetse tlies
back to the Makamisa research station overlooking the White Umfolozi river.
When Captain H. B. Potter was appointed chief conservator of the Zululand
reserves, Magqubu became the senior game guard.
In 1940 he was bitten by a boomslang and was unconscious for four days.
During this time he had a vision of a journey, so vivid that he remembered
every incident. He would recite it to anyone wanting to hear the fascinating
story. It was this vision that led him to the Shembe Church where he became a
much respected pastor in the Macibini area. Each year he went to the Shembe
ceremonies at Inanda.
We met in 1952 when I made a brief visit to Umfolozi Game Reserve to
prepare for the first aerial count of white rhino. His charisma, presence and
physicial energy impressed me. I liked the way he sang and danced when he
used a shovel or a wheelbarrow, or leading the gang of men repairing the old
causeway over the Black Umfolozi river. His favourite little song when
approaching the river was, 'Beware of the Black Umfolozi that carries those
who cross it like pumpkins to the sea.' Magqubu had only a few days to live
when the song became tragically true. The river drowned the experienced core
of the game capture team who were crossing in a lorry. Magqubu heard about it
and as he lay dying he recited me his little song.
In 1958 I was transferred to Umfolozi Game Reserve as the first resident
ranger and Magqubu Ntombela was appointed sergeant of the game guard
force. Until he died we worked together in one way or another, and I was
always in his debt. The acquisition of adjoining crown lands, Operation Rhino,
the prevention of illegal squatter occupation, and the initiation of the first
wilderness trails were part of our duties in those turbulent years. I used to send
him out on patrol with aspirant white rangers and when he returned and said a
man was no good, he was never wrong. He could see through anyone and
spotted a flaw instantly. He knew the personal history of every game guard,
had no favourites and was a severe disciplinarian, yet fought hard for his
We became particularly close after a confrontation with a black mamba
while we were scouting for wilderness trail routes in October 1958. It was a
turning point in our relationship because I had refused to follow his custom of
honouring a cairn (Ukuhlonipha isivivane). He was right in his insistence and I
became, psychologically, his pupil. No more patient teacher ever lived.
As a mimic he had no peer. He often used this gift to great effect whenever I
was irritable or behaved badly. He would wait until I calmed down, then mimic
my behaviour, accurately but without malice. People on wilderness trails
would roll around laughing hysterically, pleading with him to stop.
In 1969 we moved from Zululand to our smallholding, Phuzamoya, in the
Karkloof. Magqubu came to live on the farm and in 1974 when I retired from
the Natal Parks Board we ran trails for the Wilderness Leadership School.
Including the Natal Parks Board trails, we took over 3 000 people into the
wilderness. Magqubu's personality, knowledge and skill made a deep impres­
sion upon the trailists. Only once did he use his rifle in self-defence, when we
were attacked by lions.
In 1977 I organised the First World Wilderness Congress in Johannesburg
and Magqubu took his place on the main platform amongst cabinet ministers,
scientists and international luminaries such as Sir Laurens van der Post.
Obituaries III

Magqubu's address on the Zulu calendar was a highlight of the congress.

In 1987 we went to America together to speak at the Fourth World
Wilderness Congress in Denver, Colorado. Magqubu's oratory, his presence
and sense of humour made him the favourite of everyone, and Mrs Gro Harlem
Brundtland, the Prime Minister of Norway, was enchanted by his stories. One
of his admirers from the First World Wilderness Congress was Finlay MacRae
of Scotland who later accompanied us on trails into Umfolozi Game Reserve.
Magqubu called Finlay 'iScot', and I treasure a memory of Magqubu dancing
on the banks of the Black Umfolozi river to Finlay's bagpipe chanter.
Magqubu's grasp of the Highland rhythm was faultless.
When we passed through the United Kingdom we visited the headquarters of
the Royal Regiment of Wales at Brecon. Magqubu's father (the head of the
muzi) had fought with the Ngobamakosi regiment at Isandlwana in 1879 and
claimed to have killed four redcoats. Magqubu wished to propitiate their
spirits. Major Bob Smith, curator of the regimental museum, said in a recent
letter that Magqubu's visit was the highlight of his term of office. We were
entertained to a formal luncheon in the mess and I sat with tears in my eyes,
watching myoid friend handle the luncheon, the officers and the media with
the aplomb of a trained ambassador. For Magqubu it was an experience he
deeply valued and he recalled it with warmth and affection. His not being able
to speak English made no difference to the liveliness of the luncheon.
Later he prayed aloud in Brecon Cathedral within view of the regimental
colours recovered from the Buffalo River in 1879. Zulu praise names rang out
against the stone walls. For two days he was on the front page of newspapers in
Britain. He took it all in his stride.
In late 1993 he had to have a small prostate operation. He went to hospital
and caught jaundice. He insisted on going home. When he knew that death was
near he told his devoted wife Tabete to send for Madolo (lan Player).
My wife and I arrived at his muzi two days before he went into the next
world. He kept control of himself and as I sat holding his hand and weeping,
his grandchildren walked in and out of his room and a group of Shembe
churchwomen sang in the adjoining room. Rain was coming on the south wind
and I heard thejukwe (coucal) calling, bubbling down the scale. We had heard
it many times together while lying in wait for poachers. Now the greatest
poacher of all was coming to take my friend. Nick Steele (Malamba) came to
say goodbye and even ill extremis Magqubu sang out Nick's praise names.
In the final moments of Magqubu's life the Shembe women sang his spirit
away. I know it would have pleased him because he was a wonderful singer
himself and he was immersed in the Shembe Church.
Since his death, letters con,tinue to arrive from all over the world, from
people distressed at his departure, and in praise of him. Finlay MacRae wrote
to say how much he would have liked to pipe a lament at the grave, and he will
do so on his next visit. Another person who went on trail with him wrote: 'I
remember his unflagging vitality, the tight musculature of the backs of his legs
as he walked ahead of us. The total absorption in his surroundings seemed to
border on the mysterious. I remember the communion between the two of you
that went beyond any facility of language, beyond the bonds of time and
comradeship into the realm of faith and trust that come only from the deepest
of mutual respect'.
Magqubu taught me the true meaning of hlonipho and ubuntu - respect and
compassion. He was a whole man.
The traditional heifer skin that covered him in the grave came from two
112 Obituaries

admiring friends in England, Sir Laurens van der Post and RonaId Cohen. as
the first handfuls of earth were cast into the grave and rain was coming, a:1 I
could think of were the words of Rudyard Kipling: 'You're a better man that I
am, Gunga Din'.
Magqubu was always the pathfinder and now he has gone ahead and I know
he will be waiting to guide me when my tillJe comes. Hamba kahle Qumbu
Magqubu. We salute and thank you for all you did for people, the wilderness,
wildlife and wild lands. Those who knew you will never forget you, and the
others who come later will learn of and honour your contribution.

Nancy Ogilvie
17 August 1994 saw the passing of a gracious lady. 'Gracious lady' may be
considered a hackneyed phrase, but in describing Nancy Ogilvie it bears its
original meaning.
Anne Rose St George was born on 18 July 1898 in the home of her maternal
grandmother Mrs Emma Vanderplank on the corner of Longmarket and
Flemi'1g Streets (the house, much altered, is still there). This was exactly six
days after Pietermaritzburg's first City Hall was burnt down and Mrs Ogilvie
would recount that her mother, who had come in from the country for the birth,
had gone to watch the spectacle, much to Mrs Vanderplank's disapproval,
considering, as she did, that enceinte ladies should not appear in public.
Nancy was the fifth of the ten children of Theophilus (later Sir Theophilus)
St George and Florence Vanderplank, and grew up in a large, double-storeyed
house in Burger Street (still standing) opposite the old gaol. Her education
commenced at a small school at Government House run for the benefit of the
daughter of Sir Henry McCallum, but that episode came to a swift end after she
and the Governor's daughter came to fisticuffs when the latter saw her father
carrying Nancy into the schoolroom one morning and attacked her. Nancy who
had arrived late, could not open the door, and he had come to her rescue.
Thereafter she was educated at the Convent in Pietermaritzburg and at Natal
Training College. She taught until her marriage, and afterwards lived in
Pietermaritzburg and Port Shepstone before finally returning to the capital.
Nancy is known in the wider community for her work in the Interdenomina­
tional Church Women's Association, an organization established in the 1950s,
concerned with the needs of Pietermaritzburg's aged, predating today's
Pietermaritzburg and District Council for the Care of the Aged (PADCA).
Representing the Catholic Women's League, she was one of the association's
founder members, and was to serve on its committee for 34 years.
With two of Natal's prominent men for grandfathers - Sir Theophilus St
George, Bt., Pietermaritzburg's first Resident Magistrate, and John Vander­
plank, landowner and farmer, it is little wonder that Nancy had an abiding
interest in Natal's history, and was a mine of information on Pietermaritzburg
society in bygone days. At least some of her extensive knowledge was
committed to paper - her informative and amusing item on the hotels and
pubs in and around Maritzburg appeared in Natalia's Notes and Queries in
1979 and was reprinted in Pietermaritzburg 1838-1988; a new portrait of an
African city. Her interest in matters historical was shared by her husband,
Obituaries 113

Mr W. F. Ogilvie, a land surveyor, to whom Natal is indebted for his work in

cataloguing and adding to the Natal Museum's extensive photographic collec­
tion, and for his excellent photographs in Professor A. F. Hattersley' s A
Camera on old Natal.
Nancy was interested in everything going on around her, and her delightful
sense of humour and turn of phrase made time spent in her company a special
experience. She maintained that as one grows older one should remember the
two As - accept and adapt, and she was a true model of this precept. On the
other hand, she did not let age interfere with her lifestyle: on giving up her
house and moving into Jacaranda Lodge a couple of years ago, she remarked
that this facilitated bridge parties as most of her bridge partners were already
resident there!
Her passing is our loss, not only because of her unique personality, but also as
we can no longer draw on her knowledge of early Natal, and Pietermaritzburg.

Enos Zwelabantu Sikhakhane (1917-1993)

The history of the Methodist Church in Africa would be incomplete without a
chapter on Reverend Enoz Zwelabantu Sikhakhane, who died on Sunday at a
hospital in Empangeni after a long illness.
'E.Z.', was the founder of the Edendale Lay Ecumenical Centre in 1965.
In honour of the visionary 'Christian gentleman' - as he was described
yesterday by the executive secretary of the Methodist Church in South Africa,
Reverend Vivian Harris - the trustees of the lay centre have pledged to lay to
rest his remains on the premises he founded.
The 76-year-old cleric died after what he used to describe as a 'three-year
grace of God'. His son Mboniswa, who is now director of the Lay Centre, said
that in 1990 his father had summoned all his children to inform them he was
due to depart to the world yonder.
'He arranged his funeral service programme to the last bit, even choosing the
speakers. When his ailment failed to swallow his soul, he then dubbed the
preceding bonus period as the 'grace of God'; he explained his willingness to
go on the grounds that he had done everything he had wished for in this
A legend in his lifetime, Sikhakhane became one of the most revered and
loved ministers in the Methodist Church of South Africa. He was gifted with
the talent of organising people around him and the ability to motivate
community self-reliance.
In the 1950s he combined his church work with community-related tasks. He
travelled around Natal motivating school pupils and churches to donate a
penny towards the realisation of his dream - the building of a lay ecumenical
centre. With collected funds he went abroad to appeal for support to provide a
community centre. This became a reality by 1965.
When he retired from the centre in 1979 after being director since its
inception, he founded an agricultural extension in Empangeni. He based
himself there with his family and it was there that he died.
Before he answered the call of the cloth 'E.Z.' had been a fanner in the
Matiwaneskop village, Ladysmith, after which he taught in the same area.
Many of his pupils are today big names in the country.
114 Obituaries

He co-founded the Association of Lay Training Centres in Africa and

became its chairman in 1972 up to 1973.
He suffered from chest trouble and on Sunday morning the disturbance
complicated and he was rushed to hospital, where he passed away at about
2.30 p.m., according to his son, Mboniswa.
'E.Z.' leaves his widow maMsimang. four sons and three daughters as well
as 15 grandchildren.
(Courtesy of the Nulal Witness)

Vryhof Anton (Hoffie) Van Der Hoven

If heredity really makes a difference to what a person achieves in later life,
then perhaps the first thing to note about Hoffie van der Hoven would be that
he was the grandson of Anton van Wouw. A well known painting of a young
girl reading, by Van Wouw's friend Frans Oerder, is almost certainly a portrait
of Hoffie's mother as a child.
To suggest that the outstanding feature of Hoffie' s life was that he was the
grandson of the elder statesman of South Arican sculpture would, however, be
an injustice to him, both as a man and as an artist. Vryhof van der Hoven's
professional career was devoted to medicine, and after making the choice to
serve the public rather than remain in private practice, he rose to the highest
rank in Natal's provincial hospital services. He was not Natal born: his parents
were hoteliers in Parys, but, after graduating from the Witwatersrand Univer­
sity at the end of 1946, he did his year of housemanship at Addington Hospital
in Durban.
It was normal then for the aspirant specialist to enter general practice first,
and Hoffie spent three years at Amatikulu. He had married Elsabe Gie of
Worcester in 1948, and thus became connected to the great South African
Murray clan. By the end of his spell in Zululand, his first ambition to specialise
in pediatrics was amended, and he joined the provincial hosptal services,
moving in 1951 to Dunnottar in the Transvaal.
1956 brought him back to Natal. For the next eight years he and his wife
more than compensated for having come from outside the province by serving
its hospitals in Grey town, Port Shepstone, Eshowe, and finally the capital. His
promotion was rapid and, in the eyes of his peers, well-deserved. As Medical
Superintendent of these hospitals he was held in affectionate esteem by his
staff both for his concern and his judgement.
After two years at Grey's Hospital, he was awarded a British Council grant
to make a specialist study of hospital design in the United Kingdom. To use his
new expertise, the province broadened the scope of his employment: he was
made an inspector of hospitals and then moved into the planning section, where
he was centrally involved in the planning of the new Grey's. Deputy
Directorship, and finally the Directorship of Hospital Services in Natal
followed. The top post was not one that he relished, yet he held it with
distinction. He found himself at that point where what is politically expedient
Obituaries 115

is often at odds with the priorities of the medical and nursing professions. In
this role, his formidable integrity won him wide respect.
On his retirement in 1981 he began to develop the artistic talent that had lain
dormant through his professional career, and he did so with a fine deftness of
touch that suggested that he might have become as prominent in medicine as a
surgeon as he did as an administrator. While his grandfather had often worked
on a monumental scale, Hoffie's genius in art lay in his reading of the
seemingly commonplace. He would find, often in the least picturesque
outlook, images that he could render with an intensity that was as vigorous as it
was delicate. It was only after his final illness set in that recognition of his
work began to widen. A view of the Botanic Gardens was selected for the 1993
Natal Bienniale, and in the same year he was invited guest artist at the
exhibition of the Midlands Arts and Crafts Society's sculpture group. The
piece which brings together two of the strongest threads of his life, however, is
a banner which he designed for the Metropolitan Methodist Church in
It was Vryhof van der Hoven' s distinguished career in the public service that
made his life a matter of public note. It may seem incongruous to dwell at the
last on the art of someone who, to the world at large, was no more than a
talented hobbyist. Yet these two facets of his activities, together with his
Christian faith and his family life, are woven together. His art is characterised
by a remarkable sense of light, and those who knew him felt that this was as
much as reflection of his inner self as the product of his observation of the
world about him.
Notes and Queries

Sites of Significance
On 18 March 1993 a plaque was unveiled at the Lambert Wilson Building of
the Natal Society by Mr Peter Brown, a former Chairman and founder member
of the Liberal Party. It reads as follows:
In 195R this building was donated to the Natal Society by LAMBERT
WILSON a member of the Liberal Party of South Africa.

ALAN rATON (1903-1988) became Chairman of the Liberal Party of

South Africa on 24 June 1956. The national offices of the Party then
moved into this building from Cape Town. They remained here until the
Party was forced to disband in terms of the Prohibition of Political
Interference Act of 196R.
Shortly before, on the same day, a plaque was unveiled by Alan Paton's sister
Mrs D. Arbuthnot, at 18 Pine Street where he lived as a child from 1903 to
The Lambert Wilson Building was donated to the Natal Society in 1958 on
condition that it be userl to provide a library service to 'non-whites' as at that
time the only library facilities in Pietermaritzburg were for whites. In 1975 the
facilities of the Natal Society were opened to all races and in 1980 the lending
library in the building was closed and re-opened as a Children's Reference
Library with the approval of Lambert Wilson who was at the time living in
Australia. For a short time before he donated the building, Lambert Wilson ran
a club open to all races which was forced to close through legislation.

The Burger Street Gaol

The Burger Street gaol has been part of the fabric of Pietermaritzburg society
since 1862. In 1879, in the scare which swept the Colony following the disaster
of British arms at Isandlwana, hasty arrangements were made to incarcerate the
Governor and his staff there for their own protection should ,hat prove
necessary. It is a silent reminder of colonial and post-colonial history,
especially as many of its unwilling occupants must have found themselves
there, not because of any crime they might have committed, but because of
some technical contravention of segregationist control.
The graffiti-covered cells - with scratched calendars on which the unfor­
tunate inmates ticked off the slowly passing days a prominent feature on the
walls - are evocative. Certain cell blocks should surely be preserved as

Notes and Queries 117

national monuments. Undoubtedly the most powerful and grimly-moving relic

in the place is the old death row with its evidence of where once was the beam
to which the noose was attached, and the gaping hole between first and ground
floor where the trapdoor opened for the great and final drop. This facility was
apparently built only in the 1930s. Some of the earlier executions were
reportedly from a beam projecting out of a first floor cell block window - but
it is not known for certain whether it was ever used for that purpose.
Today the grim old place has a happier use. With the completion of the new
Pietermaritzburg Prison on the slopes of Signal Hill, the Prisons Department
ceased to have need of the building in 19R9, and in October 1992 it was taken
over by Project Gateway, an evangelical church organisation. It is now used as
a centre to provide housing and training, with cells converted to hostel-type
accommodation. The rehabilitation of former prisoners is also intended, and a
house across the road in Burger Street, the former home of the St George
family, is now used for this purpose. It is also hoped to establish a museum, but
that project is presently in abeyance due to lack of funds.

J. Gilmour Williamsoll, Booksellers

The death of Alice Mary Williamson on the 10th July, 1993, was the epilogue
to one of Pietermaritzburg' s longest -running businesses.
In 1852, Peter Davis and John May founded the May and Davis bookshop, as
well as a printing and publishing business. They took over the Natal Witness
from David Dale Buchanan, May retired in 1860, and the firm was thereafter
known as P. Davis and Sons. Davis later expanded his activities to Durban,
where he started the Natal Colonist newspaper. The Pietermaritzburg
bookshop was sold to Leonard Bayly in 1920, and he in turn sold it to Joseph
Gilmour Williamson in 1933. On his death in 1963, his daughter Alice
inherited the firm, which she ran until 1982, when, due to rising rentals, the
shop, which had operated under the name J. Gilmour Williamson, was finally

Gandhi Honoured in Pietermaritzburg

Leading players from all walks of life on the local scene, and international
dignitaries, came together in June 1883 to honour Gandhi by unveiling a larger
than life-size bronze statue of the Mahatma in the Maritzburg Mall to mark the
centenary of Gandhi's 'most creative experience', an incident that took place
on 7th June 1893, exactly a hundred years ago, when the young lawyer was
forcibly removed from a 'whites only' train compartment at Pietermaritzburg
station, and spent a bitter night on the freezing platform. This was the time of
Gandhi's self-realisation that kindled an unconquerable spirit in his life.
Gandhi had two options on that occasion: to return immediately to India, or
to stay in South Africa and use his education positively in resistance to any
form of cruelty and injustice. He chose the latter. This was the beginning of a
life dedicated to the preservation of human rights and equality. 'My active
non-violence started from that date,' he later said of this incident.
Dr Nelson Mandela delivered the main address at this historic ceremony, and
the unveiling was performed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Dr Karan Singh
represented the government of India.
118 Notes and Queries

Dr Mandela referred to the sculpture of Gandhi as a statue of hope in our

country. 'We hope that all South Africans have now won their birthright to life,
liberty and equality, and together we shall be able to forge a non-violent
society from the horrors brought by racism and apartheid rule. [Gandhi's]
experiments with truth,' said Dr Mandela, 'launched him into a path from
which he emerged as the unrivalled champion of equality and freedom of all
the oppressed people of the world.'
Dr Karan Singh said it was South Africa that gave birth to the concepts of
ahimsa and satyagraha, which were to have such a profound impact on the
course of history. Satyagraha means literally 'keep to the truth.' Gandhi
considered truth a dominating principle of life, not to be enforced by violence,
but by the power of love and spiritual conviction. He did not consider it the
weapon of the weak, or of expediency, but that of the stronger spirit. 'For me,
truth,' said Gandhi, 'is the sovereign principle, which includes numerous other
principles. The truth is not only truthfulness in word, but truthfulness in
thought also, and not only the relative truth of our conception, but the Absolute
Truth, the Eternal Principle, that is God. The seeker after truth should be
humbler than the dust. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbander in India on 2nd
October 1868.' He went to England in I HSH to study law, and came to South
Africa in May 1H93 at the age of 24, to assist in a lawsuit. Subsequent events
caused him to stay for 21 years. He founded the Natal Indian Congress in
Gandhi's political thinking evolved and matured in South Africa. With
satyagraha as his weapon, Gandhi made a significant contribution to the long
and courageous struggle against racial discrimination in South Africa. He later
became the key figure in the struggle for the liberation of India from British
Gandhi was on the political stage for more than fifty years, inspired two
generations of Indian patriots, and sparked off a revolution which was to
change the face of Africa and Asia. His activities were many and varied. He
took an integrated view of life, and hence there was hardly any apsect of it
- social, religious, political or economic - which was left untouched by
him. With his loincloth, steel-rimmed glasses, rough sandals, a toothless smile
and a voice which rarely rose above a whisper, he had a disarming humility. He
was, if one were to use the famous words of Buddha, a man who had 'by
rousing himself, by earnestness, by restraint and control, made for himself an
island which no flood could overwhelm.'
The epic life of Gandhi came to an end on 30 January 1948. He met his death
facing the forces of darkness with compassion and love. He had said 'If I am to
die by the bullet of a madman, I must do so smiling.' He bowed to his assassin
and died with the name of God on his lips. He was the victorious one in death
as in life.
'Generations to come ... ' observed Albert Einstein, 'will scarcely believe
that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.'
The Gandhi Memorial Committee in its endeavour to pursue Gandhi's
philosophy of peace and non-violence, with the co-operation of the govern­
ment of India, plans to make a film on Gandhi in South Africa, based on
Professor Fatima Meer's book Apprenticeship of a Mahatma. The Committee
is also working with the Institute for Black Research at the University of Natal,
on a publication dealing with Gandhi's speeches and writings, which will be
Notes and Queries 119

released shortly. To mark the Gandhi Centenary the South Africa Post Office
issued commemorative covers on 7 June 1993, and the Committee has
purchased the unsold covers which are being offered for sale to the public.

Ladysmith also
With so much media attention given to the unveiling of the Gandhi statue in
Pietermaritzburg in June 1993, and the prominent people present on that
occasion, it was inevitable that other events to mark the Centenary were
somewhat overshadowed. Maureen Richards of the Ladysmith Siege Museum
reminded us that in September 1970 Mr C. C. Desai, a member of the Indian
Parliament, unveiled a statue of the Mahatma in Ladysmith, in the grounds of
the Vishnu Temple. On the same day, Mr A. Soobiah Pillay, a prominent
citizen of Pietermaritzburg, officially opened Mahatma Gandhi House in
Forbes Street, Ladysmith, a shop and office building erected by the Mahatma
Gandhi Trust, the rental income on which would be used for student
Twenty-three years later, in 1993, Ladysmith again honoured the Mahatma
by arranging various events, including laying the foundation of an 'Eternal
Flame Monument' in the Town Gardens. Mr H.B. Maharaj, President of the
Sanathan Darma Sabha, said it was hoped that the central site for the
monument would emphasise Gandhi as a universal figure, and help to create
peace and unity among all the people of Ladysmith.

Absentee Landowners
It has become the accepted wisdom amongst historians of colonial Natal that
absentee landowners and great land companies such as the Natal Land and
Colonisation Company were in their heyday in possession of millions of acres
of the best farming land in the colony. Shula Marks, for example, accepts that
they owned 'nearly half of the colony's real estate' [review of A. Duminy and
B. Guest, eds, Natal and Zululandfrom earliest times to 1910 in the Journal of
Natal and Zulu History, XIII, 1990-1991, p.115] while Charles Ballard and
Guiseppe Lenta write that they owned 'several million acres of the best farm
land in the midlands'. [B. Guest and J. M. Sellers, Enterprise and exploitation
in a Victorian colony: aspects of the economic and social history of colonial
Natal (Pietermaritzburg, 1985), p.126] Similarly, Colin Bundy writes that
'Over five million of the six million acres of land owned by whites were in the
hands of absentee proprietors.' [The rise and fall of the South African
peasantry (London, 1979), p. 168]
This acceptance that absentees held such vast possessions is often cited as
the main reason for Natal's failure to become an important food-producing
colony, yet it is not borne out by the evidence. At the greatest extent of
absentee landownership, in the mid-1870s, the companies and speculators
owned just under one-and-a-half million acres with the Natal Land and
Colonisation Company, by far the largest owner, peaking at 657 967 acres in
1874. [Natal Land and Colonisation Company, Annual Reports (Natal Arch­
ives) and A. J. Christopher, 'Natal: a study in colonial land settlement',
unpubl. PhD thesis, Natal, 1969] The remaining four-and-a-half million acres
120 Notes and Queries

of white-owned land were in the hands of settler farmers, many of whom

possessed more than one farm, often using those in winter-grazing areas as
labour reserves.
How then has this misconception arisen? Most writers on land ownership in
colonial Natal rely on Henry Slater for their information. In 1980 he wrote that
'by 1874 it was estimated that five million acres belonging to private
individuals or land companies were occupied by Africans'. [So Marks and
A. Atmore, eds, Economy and society in pre-industrial society (London,
1980), pp. 162-163] His source for this is C.W. de Kiewiet, [The imperial
factor in South Africa (Cambridge, 1937), p.192] whom he quotes verbatim.
De Kiewiet does not explicitly say, however, that the private individuals were
absentees. His source was a letter written by the Secretary for Native Affairs,
Theophilus Shepstone to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord
Carnarvon, in 1874. [Colonial Office 179, (Public Record Office) 116, 22
September 1874]
A reading of this letter shows that the private individuals included not only
absentee landowners but all settler landowners, absentees and farmers alike.
Shepstone, in referring to Africans living on private farms in Natal, does not
distinguish between types of owner but writes that 'thousands occupy private
farms on various conditions and some pay a rent which occasionally amounts
to 20/- a hut ... Such is already the position of Natives who occupy say
5000000 acres belonging to private individuals'.
Although it cannot be denied that one-and-a-half million acres was a
considerable amount of land to be tied up in the hands of absentee landowners,
there still remained vast areas in the hands of farmers, few of whom utilized
more than a small proportion of the arable land at their disposal before the end
of the nineteenth century. The failure of Natal to become an important
food-producing colony lies as much at their door as at that of the absentees.

Nude bathing
(John Lambert also provides an interesting sidelight on social mores:)

A recent issue of the regional history journal, Contree, featured an article on

bathing in nineteenth-century East London. It referred to the extent to which
bathing in the nude was practised in that seaside resort.
I have for some time been interested in the apparent contradiction between
on the one hand, the widely-accepted view of Victorian 'stuffiness' and its
insistence on the observance of the external forms of public decency and, on
the other, the acceptance until well into the nineteenth century of mixed
bathing in the nude on the public beaches of Great Britain. The Anglican
diarist, the Rev. Mr Kilvert, includes many fascinating glimpses of the
prevalence of the custom as late as the 1870s and of growing opposition to it in
the United Kingdom.
Settler attitudes in colonial Natal closely reflected this change. From the
1860s Durban enacted by-laws to prohibit nude bathing in the Bay and on the
Back Beach for anyone over the age of twelve. Yet the by-laws do not seem to
have been widely observed by men, if complaints in the press are anything to
go by. As early as 9 January 1863 an irate correspondent complained in the
Natal Mercury that it was impossible for 'any female to pass along the
beach ... without having her sense of propriety shocked'. The habit was not
Notes 'and Queries 121

confined to Durban's beaches and complaints also appeared about the number
of men and boys bathing nude in Pietermaritzburg's Msunduze river.
It is interesting that the earliest complainants decried a custom which they
saw as being peculiarly British. Recognising the widespread acceptance of
nude bathing, some suggested either screening off the bathing places or
limiting the hours of bathing. Others, such as the writer mentioned above, were
determined to see the 'degrading' habit ended completely and recommended
the introduction into Natal of the' American and Continental fashion of bathing
dresses for both sexes'. This offers an intriguing contrast to the usual picture
presented in the Natal press of British 'virtue' and particularly continental
Despite the official prohibition of nude bathing, the municipal authorities,
particularly in Durban, were reluctant to enforce the by-laws, possibly because
of the widespread acceptance of the habit and possibly because of the amount
of ridicule letters of complaint attracted. The controversy continued to grow,
however, with the clamour against nude bathing being expressed in tones of
increasing outrage. On 23 November 1875 a correspondent to the Natal
Mercury thundered that 'the scenes that are frequently enacted at the [bathing
stage] are an outrage on [sic] decency. It is impossible to walk along the beach
at high tide without witnessing an amount of nudity that would be repugnant to
barbarism. Similarly, on 2 March 1891, a correspondent 'RCA' expressed
outrage in the Natal Mercury at the 'unmanly and disgusting exhibition of
full-grown men bathing without drawers amongst small boys, and seemingly to
take a pride of [sic] exposing themselves out of the water as often as possible to
any passer-by'.
With the municipal authorities reluctant to take action 'RCA' advocated the
introduction of the rather novel punishment used in Malta and Gibraltar where
'any person is justified in sending to the police the clothes of any person found
bathing without drawers ... so that those who are so fond of exposing
themselves near the water may have the privilege of doing the same at the
police station'.
Despite the vigour with which the advocates of nude bathing defended their
right to expose themselves, the habit became less common by the early
twentieth century. 'The best and purest of Natal's daughters' now began
attacking public bathing even by men in bathing drawers. They demanded
facilities for separate amenities so that in the words of 'One who Knows',
writing in the Natal Mercury on 27 February 1908, they would not have to mix
with 'Tom, Dick and Harry who are clad more or less in wet tights'. Calling for
an end to the 'saturnalia on the beach' the writer condemned those women who
'like to mix with men clad in wet, clinging costumes'.
Views like this were exceptional, and the controversy over bathing, nude or
otherwise, seems to have been dying a natural death until it was revived during
the First World War when an influx of imperial soldiers saw public decency
affronted by 'the constant exposure of nude bathers to the public gaze at the
beach bath'. [Natal Advertiser 15 August 1917] Once the war was over the
hubbub again died down and, ironically, with the advent of the more
permissive 1920s, nude bathing disappeared and bathing costumes became the
accepted norm.
122 Notes and Queries

Natal Museum Dredging Programme

The rudiments of the Natal Museum mollusc collection (snails and sea shells)
were assembled more than 100 years ago, even before the institution, as we
now know it, came into being. At the time, these few shells were simply part of
an exhibit in the collections of the Natal Society, the bulk of which later
formed the foundation of the Natal Museum. The shells themselves were
identified by Henry Cliften Burnup, now regarded as the pioneer of molluscan
research (malacology) in Natal. Burnup served as honorary curator of molluscs
at the Museum from about 1897 until his death in 1929, during which time he
published a number of scientific papers and corresponded extensively with
colleagues in Europe. The collection expanded considerably under his care and
the nucleus of a malacological library began to appear. Since these early days,
and with the establishment of the Natal Museum as a centre for natural history
research, the collection has continued to grow, specialising initially in land
snail research and more recently in marine molluscs.
Until the end of the 1970s virtually all the existing marine molluscan
material in the collection was littoral in orgin, either being collected alive in
the intertidal zone or washed ashore as dead shells. Tantalising glimpses of
what lay in the deeper waters had come from a limited amount of deep-sea
dredging undertaken at the turn of the century, from which it was clear that our
knowledge of the molluscan fauna of the continental shelf and slope was
severely lacking. In the early 1980s, Or Richard (Dick) Kilburn of the
Museum's Department of Mullusca set out to investigate the feasibility of
initiating a dredging programme in the hope of remedying this situation. After
one or two pilot exercises, the programme got under way in earnest in 1981
with the first of a series of annual cruises off the Transkei, on board the CSIR's
RV Meiring Naude. Many lessons of a technical nature were learned on these
initial trips, not the least of which was that the equipment needed to be at least
twice as strong as it had been made initially. Six years later, with much
valuable material literally 'in the bag' (not to mention greatly improved
dredging skills) the focus of attention turned to Zululand. This proved to be a
malacological treasure-trove and saw us bringing up a great many ornate and
brightly coloured tropical species which reach the south-western limits of their
distribution in this area.
With these two areas now sampled we chose next to study the south and west
coasts, undertaking one trip in the Cape Agulhas area and another off Saldanha
Bay/St Helena Bay, on board the Sea Fisheries vessel Sardinops. Although not
nearly as rich as Zululand, these areas provided us with samples of the
characteristic Cape fauna which tends to be much more restricted in its range
than that of the tropical waters. Despite being a more comfortable vessel, the
Sardinops proved to be less suitable for dredging than the Meiring Naude and
this, combined with the vast area of the continental shelf off the south coast,
presented major technical problems which, with current financial restraints, we
were not able to overcome. The Natal Museum Dredging Programme has thus
had to be terminated, the last trip being the West coast one in 1993.
Over its thirteen-year duration the programme dredged a total of over] 000
stations, at depths from 15 m to more that 800 m, from off Kosi Bay to off
St Helena Bay. Currently material from these is being studied in 12 different
countries by nearly thirty other malacologists. More than 164 species new to
science have been described to date, but by far the greater part remains to be
studied. No doubt this will keep future researchers busy for many decades to
Notes and Queries 123

come. A project that was initially conceived through ambitious and perhaps
wishful thinking turned, in the end, into one of the most extensive scientific
dredging programmes ever undertaken in southern Africa. The value of the
material obtained is scarcely measurable and the research potential of the
collection has been increased perhaps a hundredfold. What started out as a
handful of shells in one of the Natal Society's exhibits has now become the
largest collection of shells in Africa and one of the largest in the southern
Opportunities to obtain deep-water material from off the south coast are not
exhausted. Through the assistance of the Division of Sea Fisheries we may yet
get to sample such waters, but as their guests rather than under the auspices of
our own programme.

Fort Napier: 150 years from Fort to Hospital

On 31 August 1843 a detachment of British troops of the 45th Regiment (later
known as the Sherwood Foresters), accompanied by 'coloured' troops of the
Cape Mounted Rifles together with support units, wives, children and other
'camp followers', arrived in Pietermaritzburg. The Union Jack was hoisted for
the first time on a hill at the western end of the Voortrekker capital. The
following morning construction started on a fort on the site, named Fort Napier
in honour of the governor of the Cape, Sir George Napier. Fort Napier was
established in the aftermath of the clash between the Voortrekkers and the
British at Port Natal in 1842. It took more than a year to reach an agreement
between the Volksraad and the British, and the military occupation of
Pietermaritzburg was a result of that agreement. The garrison finally withdrew
in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, severty-one years later.
The influence of Fort Napier on Pietermaritzburg has been discussed in
various articles in Natalia over the years and is still the focus of a major
research project. The 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Fort was
marked by a feature article in the Natal Witness on 31 August 1993 and, a few
weeks later, on 6 October, at a ceremony at the restored Officers' Mess
building, marking its proclamation as a national monument. The gathering was
addressed by the Administrator of Natal, Mr Con Botha, who also unveiled the
plaque. Dr John Vincent, the head of the Provincial Museum Service, reports
that the new roof of the building was sorely tested by a torrential downpour,
but that all puddles were satisfactorily mopped up before the proceedings

Mary Elizabeth Cooke

7 November 1993 marked the centenary of the death ofMary Elizabeth Cooke,
the founder of the Pietermaritzburg Children's Home.
Mary Cooke was born in 1850, the daughter of John and Hannah Cooke, who
farmed at Baddesley Ensor in Warwickshire. She came to Natal in 1882 and
worked for a time for Frederick Pearse, who ran a stationery business in
Pietermaritzburg from 1881 to 1886.
A good Wesleyan Methodist, her conscience was stirred by the plight of the
street children of her day - children who were orphaned, or abandoned by
124 Notes and Queries

parents gone to the gold diggings of the Transvaal, or whose parents were
destitute. She began a campaign for a home for these children, and roused the
interest and support of several prominent citizens, including A. W. Baker,
Henry Campbell, Henry Bale, John Ireland and Rev. John Smith, minister of
St. John's Presbyterian Church.
On I February 1887, she opened a home in a cottage in Retief St. lent rent
free by Mr Baker, with two children whose parents were destitute and in the
last stages of consumption. Messrs Bale, Campbell and Ireland formed a
'committee of reference and supervision' and Mr Baker acted as secretary.
Other children soon came and by August her family had grown to fifteen. The
cottage in Retief St. soon became inadequate and the home moved to a house in
Burger St. next to Oxenham's Bakery.
Meanwhile, Rev. John Smith had collected £600 for the home and in March
1889, at a meeting held at the Y.M.C.A., the Children's Home and Orphanage
was firmly constituted, with a board of trustees elected to control the money
collected and any property the home might acquire. The trustees were the
Mayor, the Master of the Supreme Court and Messrs Bale, Ireland and
Mary Cooke's work was a labour of love and she accepted no remuneration
for her services. It was a considerable labour. Henry Bale told the meeting in
1889 (reported in the Natal Witness on 26 March) that the number of children
then in the home was 22, and their ages ranged from one to fifteen years. Most
of the children were orphans; all of them were motherless, and some few were
destitute. Many of them came to the home uneducated, boys twelve years old
not knowing their letters, but all had been sent to school, and were doing well.
Miss Cooke had considerable difficulties in connection with the Home, partly
owing to the character of the children who came, and the circumstances which
had attended them previously. A great improvement, however, had taken place
in them during their residence in the Home. Some had received situations in
various parts of the Colony, and some had been provided for by their parents
elsewhere, the number who had passed through the Home and who had now
left being about 22. The expenditure per month came to the remarkably small
sum of £22, or in other words £1 per head covered all costs including rent and
to some extent clothing. The question had arisen more than once as to whether
only orphans should be received, but it was thought advisable that the Home
should be open to all who were destitute ... Miss Cooke's had been a labour
of love, and it was surprising to everyone that she had succeeded so well with
so little help, as only one African was employed to assist her, and the way in
which the children were kept reflected great credit on her management.
Sadly, the strain of her work affected Mary Cooke's health and in 1893 she
became seriously ill. She died on 7th November 1893, aged 44.
During her seven years in charge, she had firmly established the Home in the
hearts and minds of Pietermaritzburg, and the public continued to support it. In
1914, it moved to a site in Longmarket St. where it remained until 1993. [n
1951 it was named the Mary Cooke Home in tribute to its founder.

Shepstone Centenary
The centenary of the death of Sir Theophilus Shepstone occurred on 23rd June
1993. When he died, Pietermaritzburg came to a halt. His funeral was an
enormous event attended by every distinguished citizen in the Colony from the
Notes and Queries 125

Governor down. The Natal Witness devoted considerable space to editorial

tributes, biographical details, accounts of the funeral and details of tributes
paid from the pulpits of city churches. His was a name, according to the
Witness 'revered by all the aborigines on the continent'. Three years later his
statue was erected on the corner of Longmarket Street and Commercial Road,
the only private citizen to be thus honoured until the unveiling of the Gandhi
statue almost a century later.
The Witness's centennial appraisal was somewhat less enthusiastic. History
has not dealt nearly as kindly with him as with, for instance, his one-time
friend, Bishop Colenso. His philanthropic concern to protect blacks from the
exploitation of white settlers is acknowledged, but he was also at heart an
imperialist, ultimately devoted to the forcible extension of colonial power.
With the benefit of hindsight, the Shepstone System, with its confining of
blacks to reserves, its indirect rule through dependent chiefs, its passes and
other control mechanisms, its implicit categorisation of people as 'surplus',
and its plausi ble excll!sion of black people from the franchise, is seen to be the
true ideological ancestor of the twentieth century's much grander system of
apartheid. Had a statue not already been standing, it is highly unlikely that, as
in the case of Gandhi, a centennial statue would be erected in Shepstone's
memory. The Witness hoped, though, that the new South Africa would be
mature enought to leave him standing where he is.

Robert Morley's Mother

In the biography of this well-known British actor who died last year (Robert,
my father by Sheridan Morley, London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1993) it is
stated that Robert's mother, Gertrude Emily Fass, was the fifth of ten children
of 'a wealthy German adventurer who had made his fortune in South Africa'. It
would seem that a considerable part of that fortune must have been made in
Natal, because it was in Pietermaritzburg that 'the German adventurer' settled.
He was Adolph Fass (c. 1839-19(5), one of the capital's early merchants. He
was born in Gollnow, Prussia, and apparently came to Natal in the early 1860s.
Certainly he was here by April 1862.
Fass settled in Pietermaritzburg as a storekeeper, and in SeptemberlSo3
married, in St Peter's, Sophia Wilhelmina Hcster Gahde (born c.1847), the
daughter of Heinrich Daniel Gahde who seems to have come to Natal from the
Cape, and his wife Sophia Dorothea Mocke (c. 1825-1883). (Heinrich Gahde
became a naturalised British subject in December 1849, in Natal, and worked
in Pietermaritzburg as a builder, and at one time farmed on Borrel Fontein near
the Noodsberg.) Between June 1865 and May 1866 Fass was in partnership
with Edmund Escombe (brother of Harry Escombe) and Isidore Adler, under
the style Fass, Adler & Escombe. For Cl time he continued alone, but in the
1880s was trading as 'A. Fass & Co., Merchants and Importers', with stores in
both Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
He retired to Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire, where he died. Major
Morley, who had been in the 4th Royal Dragoon Guards and had served in the
Anglo-Boer War, met the Fass family when they were living at Chalfont St
Peter, and married Gertrude in January 1906.
126 Notes and Queries

Letter from an old friend and colleague

It was good to hear recently from Ron Brown, sometime Natal University
Librarian, member of the Natal Society Council and the Natalia editorial board
in the early 1970s, now living in Oxford. In his letter he mentions his special
interest in Natalia 22, dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Colin
Webb. His friendship with Colin dated from 1962 when they arrived together
as newcomers to the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University. Other
information from Ron which may be of interest to many of our readers, is that
John Young, whose father was in the 24th South Wales Borderers, formed the
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society two years ago. Its journal appears three
times a year. Further details may be obtained from Mr Young at 24 Ash
Groves, Lower Shearing, Of. Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire CH21 4LN,

Historical and Developmental Atlas of KwaZulu-Natal

Work has begun this year on the preparation of an historical and developmental
atlas of this region, under the joint editors hip of four members of the
University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. They are Professor John Laband of the
Department of Historical Studies, Professor Rob Fincham of the Institute of
Natural Resources, Ms Helena Margeot of the Cartographic Unit in the
Department of Geography and Professor David Davies, Emeritus Professor of
Geography. The atlas will fall into five sections: cartographic introduction;
Stone Age and Iron Age; political and administrative developments; socio­
economic developments; and the post-apartheid era.
The motivation for the production of the atlas is the realization that this is a
region with a complex history, which faces tremendous challenges today and in
the future. To understand these problems and to devise solutions, it is
necessary to comprehend historical developments and to analyse trends over
time. An ideal means of doing this is through an atlas where raw information
and a series of problems and contested interpretations are translated into
accessible maps and diagrams, supported by succinct textual explanation.
The project, which will draw on the expertise of researchers in a number of
fields, will take three years to complete.

National Monuments proclaimed in Natal

The National Monuments Council's annual report for the year ended 31 March
1993 records three further proclamations in Natal.
The two fortifications from the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) known as North
Gun Point and South Gun Point, situated on Lancaster Hill, Vryheid. These
stone fortifications were erected by the British forces on 18 September 1900 on
Lancaster Hill in order to strengthen their position there. This led to the
eventual retreat of the Boer forces on 12 December.
The property with the house known as 'Portview' thereon, 183 Cowey Road,
Durban. This double-storey house was erected in 1905 by T.B.F. Davis, a
prominent resident of Durban and one of the founders of the University of
Natal. The building is a good example of an Edwardian dwelling in its original
context. The gardens on the property are also worth noting.
Notes and Queries 127

The old Satya Vardhak Sabha crematorium and waztlng-room, Cremorne

Cemetery, Pietermaritzhurg. A Hindu cultural organisation, the Satya Vardhak
Sabha, was established in 1928 in accordance with the Vedic doctrines of the
Hindu faith, with the purpose of promoting the principles of hygiene and the
philosophy of reincarnation. A crematorium was built later the same year, and
all population groups thereafter made use of this cremation facility. There are
two structures on the property, namely a waiting-room for mourners and the
crematorium with its classical cupola. This was Natal's first crematorium.
In addition to these three declarations, there was one provisional declaration,
which accords legal protection for a maximum period of five years, during
which the desirability or otherwise of a permanent declaration is investigated.
The parsonage, known as Dower House, Dower Street, Kokstad.
Book Reviews and Notices



Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1993, xviii + 302pp. iIIus. maps,

R59,95 (soft cover).

The reigns of the Zulu kings from Shaka to Dinuzulu are well known to readers
of Natal history, but on the period between Dinuzulu' s death in 1913 and the
rise of the modern Inkatha movement there is a big gap in the literature
accessible to the reading public. The research on this era is buried in theses,
research papers and learned journals. The University of Natal Press must be
congratulated therefore on publishing Nicholas Cope's doctoral thesis on a
vital, yet neglected period in our history.
To bind the nation is a major contribution to our understanding of
Dinuzulu's son and successor as 'unrecognised' king of the Zulu, Solomon
kaDinuzulu, and of events in Natal and Zululand between 1913 and 1933.
Nicholas Cope has produced an admirable and intriguing book which provides
us with valuable insights into the deep-rooted causes of the conflict which has
racked Natal and South Africa in the recent past. Cope is sensitive to these
connections, but firmly declares that 'it is to history that this book is
committed'. This well-written book is based on extensive and meticulous
archival research and is a 'quality' publication. Its merits were recognised
when To bind the nation received the 1993 CNA Debut Award for English
Solomon was not born in Zululand, but on the island of St Helena, where his
father was in exile during the 1890s. He received an 'English' and Christian
upbringing, though with little formal schooling. His succession to his late
father's officially abolished royal title in 1913 was controversial, but ulti­
mately he was widely accepted by both traditionalist and modern Zulu people.
What Solomon failed to achieve, although he came very close at times, was to
get the Union Government to formally recognise him as King of the Zulu. This
was his life's ambition which also encompassed a deep desire to heal rifts
within Zulu society and to 'bind the nation'.
Cope sympathetically brings the sadly flawed character of Solomon to life,
but this is much more than a biography, it is a rigorous examination of the
social, political and economic history of a period of great divisions in Natal
and Zulu society. Cope's narrative moves smoothly between tracing Solo­
mon's personal, matrimonial and political actions, and exploring the broader
social and economic context in which his life was set. He paints a fascinating
portrait of a South Africa where Africans suffered considerable repression and

Book Reviews and Notices 129

social dislocation, but not yet the great humiliations of apartheid. The Zulu had
been drawn into the broader industrial society as migrant workers and in the
rural areas they had lost much of their land to white agriculture, so their social
structures and traditions were under great strain. 'The 'reign' of Solomon
spanned a time of rising trade union activity, with the foundation of the
Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (lCU), and of black middle-class
political activity. Solomon became involved with both trade union and
middle-class movements, to the alarm of the white authorities and the Natal
Solomon was dependent on the Union Government and yet the more he
furthered its interests, the more he alienated himself from sections of his
followers. Cope provides an intriguing early example of this. During the First
World War, Louis Botha was desperate for labour to support the Union's war
effort in Europe. Africans were recruited from all over the Union to serve,
unarmed, behind the front lines. The Government thawed towards Solomon as
the Chief Native Commissioner realised that here was a figure with the prestige
to bring in thousands of Zulu recruits. Solomon was allowed considerable
freedom in undertaking political and traditionally kingly activities, but he
failed to increase recruitment. The loss of the troopship Mendi with hundreds
of African lives was too well known.
Also intriguing were Solomon's dealings with British royalty. In 1925,
Edward, the Prince of Wales, visited South Africa and Solomon, with tacit
official approval, led the Zulu nation to the great indaba at Eshowe and held
important private interviews with the prince. Afterwards there were persistent
rumours that the prince had ratified his position as king. The officials of the
Native Affairs Department, many of them Natalians schooled in the Shepstone
tradition, were generally hostile to Zulu royal claims and all Solomon's
endeavours were thwarted. Thus when the Governor-General of the Union, the
Earl of Athlone, arrived in Eshowe five years later, Solomon was in a truculent
mood and disrupted the prodeedings at the indaba. Solomon was also very
drunk and the solemnity of the meeting between the representative of the
British Crown and the Zulu 'king' and people degenerated into a confrontation
with farcical overtones.
One of the crucial events of Solomon's reign was the founding of the first
Inkatha Zulu cultural movement in 1924. The name was taken from the 'sacred
coil of the Zulu nation' which the British had destroyed during the Anglo-Zulu
War. Inkatha's purpose, as symbolised by the original coil, was 'to bind the
nation'. It was essentially an initiative undertaken by educated middle-class
kholwa leaders and chiefs close to the Zulu royal family. The movement was a
reaction to the stresses resulting from land loss and urbanisation. Inkatha was
an ideal vehicle for Solomon and it became very influential, although it was not
well administered. It collapsed shortly after Solomon's death, its last action
having been the campaign to erect the Shaka memorial in Stanger. This project,
and Inkatha itself, became enmeshed in corruption and financial mismanage­
ment which reflected on Solomon and which discredited the cause of
Solomon died in his early forties after a tragic decline in political authority,
mental stability and after suffering from alcohol-related illnesses. The legacy
of Zulu kingship lived on, although there is now an even greater need to 'bind
the nation' in the broader context.
[Edited version of a review first published in the Natal Witness.]
130 Book Reviews and Notices


London, Greenhill Books, 1993, 167 pp. illus. maps, £19,95.

The defence of Rorke' s Drift on 22-23 January 1879 has long established itself
as one of the best-known actions of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Popular
perceptions of the gallant stand by an outnumbered British garrison against
overwhelming Zulu odds have been kept alive by numerous dramatic retellings
and by evergreen films like Zulu. Tourists still flock to the scene of the battle,
where they are now better served than ever before by the Natal Museum
Services's excellent displays and exhibits. Archaeologists assiduously probe
the site, and historians continue to debate and re-interpret the event. Among
the latter, few are better known than Ian Knight. He has written extensively on
the Anglo-Zulu War, and has regularly been reviewed in Natalia. Two of his
latest books, Brave Men's Blood (1990) and Zulu (1992) have been highly
Zulu, which was concerned primarily with the battle of Isandlwana, also
contained a sizable section on Rorke' s Drift. This was really inevitable, since
the action at Rorke's Drift was in effect a continuation of Isandlwana and the
fighting down the Fugitives' Trail. The opportuneness could be questioned,
therefore, of Knight's bringing out a similar book so close on the heels of Zulu.
For in Nothing Remains but to Fight, he has had of necessity to cover much of
the same ground, sketching the background to the war, and following events
from Isandlwana over Fugitives' Drift to the isolated garrison at Rorke's
Yet it must be accepted that, if Knight's latest book is to stand on its own,
the background has to be painted in, for all that it might be over-familiar to
many readers. In any case, Knight has tailored the introduction to fit the theme.
Besides covering the advent of the war and the opening stages of the campaign,
he also describes the region itself, its white settlers and traders, and the nature
of the Zulu kingdom. Moreover, it is clear that Knight's comprehensive
treatment of the battle itself is now the best available. He marshals the latest
archaeological findings and scholarly interpretations, welds them to the vivid
contemporary accounts which he quotes to great effect, and imparts immediacy
to the whole through his own observations, which are based on his personal
familiarity with the site, terrain and climate. And in a welcome departure from
previous popular accounts of the battle, he rescues the Zulu from the
anonymity to which they are habitually consigned, and in his thorough
treatment of their strategy and tactics puts them on an equal footing with the
Certain additional features increase the value of this book. Knight closely
describes the participants, both white and Zulu, and fleshes them out as
individuals. In the process, he provides much unfamiliar information. Not the
least fascinating part of the book is the chapter entitled 'Awards and Sequals'
[sic]. In it, he not only tells the subseqeuent story of Rorke's Drift up to the
present, but follows the careers of both defenders and attackers, many of them
sad anti-climaxes. And in a most valuable discussion he shows how conflicting
popular perceptions of the battle have been in a process of continuous
development, whether one considers accounts in the press and journals,
personal reminiscences (both British and Zulu), paintings or films.
The illustrations undoubtedly add to the significance of this book. On the
Book Reviews and Notices 131

strength of Knight's earlier publications, one had expected the illustrations to

be comprehensive, and indeed they are. But here he has gone beyond what is
merely necessary. His assiduous picture-research has unearthed many unfami­
liar images, and numbers of the protagonists spring into unexpected life as
their faces are at last revealed. His use of contemporary maps and diagrams is
effective, while present-day photographs of the site, archaeological digs and
artefacts all aid our imaginative grasp of the battle and those people, places and
things connected with it. Appendices, bibliography and index round off a very
satisfactory production. It will not be easily superseded and, in its comprehen­
siveness and balance, decidedly outclasses its most recent competitor, James
Bancroft, The Terrib1e Night at Rorke's Dr(ft (1991).



London, Greenhill Books and Pennsylvania, Stackpole Books, 1994. 256 pp.,

illus., maps and plans, hardcover. SA price not yet available.

Ian Knight is perhaps the best-known popular current writer on the Anglo-Zulu
War and probably the most prolific. In this study of the unglamorous siege of
Colonel Pearson's column in Eshowe he is joined in authorship by Ian Castle, a
fellow student of the conflict of 1879 and a specialist in uniforms and weaponry.
Both are request visitors to the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal and their work
brings together complementary views and intimate knowledge of the terrain and
of the sources, both in the United Kingdom and in South Africa.
Fearful hard times is primarily a narrative account of the events surrounding
the siege of Pearson's column in Eshowe during the Anglo-Zulu War and the
attempts of Lord Chelmsford to relieve the force. On the day of Isandlwana
Pears on gained a victory over a Zulu ibutho at the Nyezane River, but was then
pinned down without support in the KwaMondi mission station for seventy-two
days as a result of the collapse of Chelmsford's central column. Castle and
Knight give a fairly detailed background to Pearson's campaign and provide
much new information on the events in and around Eshowe during the siege and
during the advance of the relief column in April 1879. The authors state in their
introduction that the Eshowe campaign is one of the lesser-known aspects of the
Anglo-Zulu War and they have set out to remedy this deficiency. They make
liberal use of unpublished diaries and reminiscences of British participants, but
do not neglect the Zulu side of the story, despite the relative lack of information
on the strategy adopted by King Cetshwayo and his generals around Eshowe.
The authors also venture beyond the narrative to offer some context on the
rigid class divisions within British society and its influence on codes of conduct
within the army. The aristocratic Dawnay brothers, one a regular officer, the
other merely a 'gentleman adventurer', secure plum appointments with Chelms­
ford's troops because of their social connections. Lt. Davison, who died of
disease during the siege, is extensively cited and one of the grimmest aspects of
the siege is revealed in his diary, namely the frequent courts martial and
floggings of the troops by Pearson. The writers tend to allow incidents such as
these to speak for themselves, but they do point out how the merry hunting­
sportll1g attitude of the British troops at the outset of the campaign changed
132 Book Reviews and Notices

under the impact of the heavy casualties at Isandlwana. No longer were the
Zulu wounded so chivalrously regarded; they were hunted down or left to die
by the vengeful and nervous imperial and colonial troops and their African
Castle and Knight have uncovered and presented a wealth of new or
little-known information on this campaign, which, despite being a 'sideshow'
nevertheless exerted a major strategic influence on the conduct of both sides
during the two-and-half month siege. The book is well illustrated with unusual
photographs and the enthusiast interested in campaign details can follow the
course of events on lan Castle's carefully drawn maps. Unfortunately, the lurid
dust cover suggests that the book is a modern version of a 'Boy's Own'
imperialist adventure story rather than the more serious and reflective work
that it truly is.


Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1994, xvi + 316 pp. illus. maps,
tables. R52,95.

During the last few decades there has been a considerable amount of research
done on the prehistory and colonial past of the Natal and Zululand region. This
research is reflected in the number of journal articles and monographs that
have appeared, making the region prior to the twentieth century one of the
better known in southern Africa. Few monographs, however, have appeared on
its history in the twentieth century, while those which have been published
have tended to be political rather than historical studies, with the emphasis in
recent years being on the violence racking the region. While there have been
journal articles on aspects of twentieth century Natal's social and economic
history, this remains virtually a virgin field as far as monographs are
concerned. Receded tides ofempire, therefore, goes some way towards filling a
significiant gap.
Although not officially part of a series, Receded tides can be seen as a
second volume to the important collection of essays on social and economic
history in colonial Natal edited by Guest and Sellers in 1985, Enterprise and
exploitation in a Victorian colony: aspects of the economic and social history
of colonial Natal. Like its predecessor, this volume does not attempt to offer a
complete overview of the social and economic history of the region in its
chosen period - at this stage this would be impossible because of the gaps in
current research. It offers instead a series of essays, each one giving an analysis
of a specific theme and written by a scholar or scholars currently researching
the particular topic. Inevitably this means that the editors had to rely on
contributions which highlight only those aspects of the region's history that
have been researched. Because of this, the reader is left with only a partial
knowledge of developments, while important regions within Natal and Zulu­
land are ignored. As far as the latter aspect is concerned, the only regions
covered specifically in the volume are northern Natal, the sugarbelt and
KwaZulu; and these are examined only in relation to certain periods.
Although each chapter is an essay in itself and is meant to stand on its own.
Book Reviews and Notices 133

there is an interrelationship between a number of themes. This is evident in

those chapters on railways (by Heine Heydenrych and Paula du Plooy), the
harbour (by Anthony Lumby and Ian McLean), coal (by Bill Guest) and
manufacturing (by Mark Addleson) and is particularly striking in the two
complementary chapters on the sugar industry by Paul Dickinson and David
A major problem with the volume is the serious imbalance between 'society'
and 'economy' within some of the chapters. It is a pity that in commissioning
the essays the editors were not more rigorous in setting out their requirements.
Some of the chapters, particularly those by Guest and Lincoln, and those by
Verne Harris on changing forms of agricultural labour on white-owned farms
in northern Natal, 1910-1936, and by Joy Brain on the Iridian community in
Natal, offer a more historical approach, concentrating on both economic and
social aspects within the relevant theme and clearly drawing the links between
the two. By contrast, those by Lumby and Mc Lean on Durban harbour,
Cornelis de Jong on whaling and Giuseppe Lenta on agriculture in KwaZulu
are more strictly economic studies. This contrast is apparent even in the two
concluding chapters which focus specifically on segregation. Paul Maylam
offers a nuanced account of segregation in Durban and its effects on Africans
in that city while Trevor Wills concentrates more on the enforcing of
segregation in Pietermaritzburg. The overall impression of the book, unlike the
earlier volume, is that it focuses far more on the economy of the region than on
A theme which runs through the book is the growing interrelationship and
interdependence of Natal and its sister provinces in the years since 1910. The
chapters show how Natal through most of the period benefited economically
from Union and the role of the region in the development of the province
comes through clearly. This complements the work done on the attitude of
white Natalians to the Union which Paul Thompson published in Natalians
first and elaborates on the reasons why they were not prepared to break their
ties with the rest of the country, despite political antipathy. Yet it also becomes
clear how the wider South African connection, and particularl} the policy of
apartheid, has been detrimental to the region since the early 1980s, especially
the excessive growth in government spending which has drained the region's
A disappointing aspect of the book is the scarcity of references to the
experience of Africans, and particularly workers, from its pages. While they
appear particularly in the chapters by Guest, Lincoln and Maylam, the only real
attempt to come to grips with their experience comes in Verne Harris's account
of agricultural labourers on white-owned farms in northern Natal. His essay
raises questions on the role of farm (rather than plantation) labour throughout
the province and during the latter part of the century. Surely it is time that this
cruical aspect of Natal's history receives more attention than it has done?
An important purpose of any book of essays such as Receded tides ofempire
is that it will stimulate further research. One hopes that what has appeared here
will encourage other scholars to examine the neglected areas.
134 Book Reviews and Notices


Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press and Oxford/Providence, Berg
Publishers Limited, 1993, 186 pp. illus., paperback, R44,95.

A first impression could be that this topic hardly deserves a full-blown book.
Are single women important as a category, and were there enough of them to
make a difference and warrant serious study? Closer reading reveals a
carefully-researched, multi-faceted work which belongs most comfortably to
women's history, but is at the same time British colonial history and Southern
African history. For readers of Natalia the work is another reminder of how
firmly Natal featured in the general spread of British civilisation in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The author explores in depth why single women left hearth and home,
braved a hazardous sea voyage, and ventured into distant, often inhospitable
territory. She explodes the myth popularised by W.R. Greg in 1862 that there
were 1 248 000 'redundant' unmarried women in Britain, the remedy for
which was to ' .... restore by an emigration of women that natural percentage
between the sexes in the old country and in the new ones, which was disturbed
by the emigration of men.' (p. 5) She looks rather to employment opportunities
in the colonies and the appeal of evangelism and imperialism. There seem to
have been four periods in this respect: 1820-60 when unskilled domestic
lahour was needed; 1860-85 when middle-class women sought opportunities;
1885 -1900 when skilled and professional women went to specific positions,
and 1900-1939 which was a period of consolidation of professionals. Supply
and demand in marriage did play a part, usually on an individual basis. In
Natal, for example, Joseph Churchill and Hugh Gillespie, who came with the
B yrne Settlers, arranged for thei r respective sisters to join them and then
became brothers-in-law. The most well-known organised scheme, when Sir
George Grey recruited some 100 Irish women as prospective wives for the
German legionaries on the Cape Eastern Frontier, proved less than successful
and was not repeated. However, 'loyal wives' were again encouraged follow­
ing the Anglo-Boer War. Conversely, to counteract the temptation of women
recruited for missionary work to marry instead, several Anglican bishops
estahlished sisterhoods. For instance, Bishop Colenso established the Sisters of
Mercy in Natal, which did not outlast the Colenso ecclesiastical controversy.
Bishop Webb established the Community of St Michael and All Angels in
Bloemfontein and later the Community of the Resurrection in Grahamstown.
Through each of these, respectively, Sister Henrietta Stockdale launched
nursing training in Kimberley, and Mother Cecile teacher training in Grahams­
town. Whatever the reason for leaving Britain, whether escape from personal
trauma or a search for the sun, the position of governess was the great standby
of single women throughout the period.
It is in the individual case studies that the real interest of this book lies.
Dr Jane Waterston, apparently the only woman doctor in South Africa in the
nineteenth century, became a legend in Cape Town, as did Lilian Rose for her
work in concentration camp schools during the Second Anglo-Boer War. The
founding principals of leading girls' schools - both private and govern­
ment ­
were invariably single British immigrant women. In Natal, names such as Miss
Book Reviews and Notices 135

Mary Campbell, Miss Eliza Jane Usherwood, Miss Martha Cheetham, and
Miss Norma Burns come to mind. Far beyond the period studied here, private
schools were still recruiting teachers from overseas. The contribution of these
individuals was very considerable.
Statistical evidence was not easy to come by, but that given from the Annual
Reports of the British Women's Emigration Association suggests that between
1895 and 1912, 4 821 single women came to Southern Africa, as compared
with 5 506 to Canada, 841 to Australia, 477 to New Zealand and 200 to the
USA. These figures in themselves seem to justify the research.
This is a Eurocentric study and makes no attempt to see the issue through
African eyes, other than to assess the effects of black domestic labour on that
of whites and their attitudes. By her own admission, the author excludes
Roman Catholic activity. These limitations aside, the work goes some way
towards according dignity to a neglected 'species' and topic, and, for this, as
well as for a fascinating and informative read, Cecillie Swaisland must be
This book is well produced by the University of Natal Press and has a useful
bibliography and index.


Leeds, Peepal Tree Press, 1992, 148pp., R44,00.

Rajend Mesthrie's long-awaited Lexicon of South African Indian English

(SAlE) is a delight and will assuredly give great pleasure to South Africans in
many walks of life. Not least of these is curiously enough the housewife to
whom, through the press and fairly regular features in women's magazines,
Indian terms particularly those related to Indian cookery and spices, have been
becoming more familiar in recent years. The mysteries of tandoori, roti and
naan have been expounded, and she buys samoosas, !nasala, achar, pappa­
dums, chilliebite mix and dhaniya at the supermarket without batting an eyelid.
I must admit, though, to have been slightly taken aback in my 'local' in
Constantia to see the last of these offered as 'danja' - perilously like
gan/a - which appears elsewhere in this invaluable book. Though taking the
form of a lexicon, it contains detailed description and explanation of how and
where SAlE developed. The linguist will give due attention to the excellently
presented and reasoned introductory material, as well as to the chapters on
slang, grammatical differences, characteristic peculiarities in pronunciation;
and to the very fascinating list of 'overlap' between SAlE and general SAE
which follows the lexicon. There is also a superb table of idioms, of which
more later. Apart from the ordinary reader, the student or reader who ha~
dipped - or delved - into the work of SAfE writers, and who wants to know
more, will find this a veritable mine of information. Indeed, for the reader who
has discovered how much there is both to ponder and enjoy in the wry humour
and often profound social commentary of such writers as Achmat Dangor,
Ahmed Essop, Essop Patel, Ronnie Govender and Shabbir Banoobhai, this is a
Dr Mesthrie throws open for our pleasure and further understanding a
treasurer trove; from the rituals of the god stand, puja goods, porridge prayers
136 Book Reviews and Notices

or goat prayers and marriage ceremonies, to the games of thanni and carom
and their lingo, to the street language of the rougher element whose argot has
much in common with that of any South African breker of whatever group.
Apart from an impressive list of the vocabulary , he reveals some of the
philosophy - humorous or prosaic - of everyday life: 'to have a headache in
one's toes' (to malinger); 'to have a double engine' (girl friend or mistress as
well as a wife); 'to want biryani every day' (to have unrealistic expectations);
'to run on Indian time', 'to use Fs and Bs' 'to use languages' - the meanings
of these will be obvious - ; 'to get dholl curry and rice every day' (to live a
humdrum life) and perhaps best of all 'to jump like a cut fowl' (to be
obstreperous but ineffectual).
Besides giving these enthralling glimpses of what often seem to the outsider
an essentially private Hindu culture - my own experience having been of
staying in Muslim homes and gossiping in Muslim kitchens, and consequently
being aware of some small omissions in this field of the vocabulary - Dr
Mesthrie does not neglect the historical aspects of what one may call Indian
South Africa. His inclusion of the names Truro and Belvedere often encoun­
tered in Indian contexts, is of particular interest. They were two of the ships in
which Indians came to South Africa.
He also treats many of the languages from which SAlE has borrowed,
including Afrikaans, from which some of the adoptives do not line up with
their original meanings. For example, brom (complain, grumble) is to 'brag,
exaggerate, tell tales', mal (mad, crazy) is, as in American English 'angry,
cross, upset', and draad (thread) means, quite inexplicably, 'grace, style,
elegance, "know-how"'. There is also a section on reduplication, very
common in SAlE, but apparently not related to that which so strongly
characterises Afrikaans. Examples are: 'We waited-waited but they didn't
come', 'Talking-talking we forgot about the time'.
In the section on grammatical differences Mesthrie illustrates some lively
uses of phrasal verbs: 'He by-hearted the work' (learned it off by heart); 'She
look-afters the baby'. These are predictably marked as basilectal forms and are
not to be confused with educated usage, such as the Sanskritic dvandva forms
like butter-bread or masala-chicken.
It is certainly a comprehensive work, wider in scope than might be expected
of a 'lexicon'. It is a textbook for the professional linguist as well as a source of
pleasure and information to the general user, perhaps particularly, but by no
means exclusively, in Natal.
For me personally the classification of the vocabulary for the purpose of
illustrating the type or spectrum of usage, tends to be a stumbling block
- despite the excellent alphabetised index complete with page numbers at the
back. When reading la several words I expected to find were missing, but
further on in I b. These included aradh, bhai, chevda (available now in packets
in cafes) kalya - a common dish, - rotla, taj, thambi, uplang, zakaat, and
particularly bibi, a name or title in frequent use. This I found confusing and
would for myself prefer a single alphabetised series with the classifications
marked for each entry. This would mean that the reader only partially familiar
with the vocabulary would not be limited as one is at present by choices which
the classification system imposes, and which may run counter to one's own
experience. Treatment in a single series would increase its value lexicogra­
phically, whereas to someone with a different slant on inter-cultural studies it
would possibly not, so this is perhaps a purely subjective viewpoint.
One minor point: there are two possible Sintu language etymologies which
Book Reviews and Notices 137

have been overlooked. One is boula, a brazier, I think wrongly linked to

Fanagalo from English boiler, which seems more likely to have come from the
Zulu from -mbawu/o firepot or brazier. The other is lahnee probably related to
-lani, white person. (Anthony Sampson Drum, 1956, 'I heard a murmur,
"Laanis", the ts(,tsi word for a white man' and M. J. K. Mfusi Soweto Zulu
Slang, thesis 1990, ilani. alllO/olli, Class 5 noun, whi'te person.)
The only real lack is that there are too few of the quotations which illustrate
the words and expressions in contexts, usually with so much humour. It does
not detract, however, from the overall pleasure this lively and erudite work
provides. It is a welcome contribution to our knowledge about the English of
our country, culturally and scholastically.



Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press, 1993, 120 pp. illus. R24,95.

The Press and authors should take a bow! This book is real value for money.
Co-authored books are difficult to pull off, and this one does not entirely
succeed. There is some disjointedness of style and of content as we move from
descriptions of Hindu religion, to descriptions of temple architecture to records
of field expeditions. Sometimes technical Hindu terms are introduced which
are not explained (such as the god's vehicle). There is a technical quibble about
the printing; no doubt for reasons of economy the margins, especially at the
binding edge, are too small for comfortable reading.
But the advantage is a book of almost pocket size which is remarkably
inexpensive and which could serve as a field guide on the expeditions that
readers will certainly be inspired to make. Also, despite its price it contains
some attractive photographs to expand the text.
The book comes at a very good time. Starting to build a nation out of our
divided communities we urgently need to understand one another's deep
beliefs. Hinduism is relatively small in South Africa as a whole, but much
more dominant in Natal. Natalians who work alongside Hindus daily need to
know about what they believe. Christians and Muslims who are scornful of
people whom they regard as idol-worshippers need to know how crudely
mistaken their views are. Hinduism is not an easy religion for non-Hindus to
understand. The art, the stories, the pluralism, the ways of worship, are exotic
and unfamiliar. Christianity is diverse enough, Hinduism far more so, being
really a federation of religions united under a cultural Indian umbrella. Better
than in any other book I know, Diesel and Maxwell guide us through the
different traditions in South African Hinduism, being careful at the same time
to warn us that the distinctions and divisions can be oversimplified.
The book includes a short guide to the architectural and iconographic
features of some of the more important temples in Natal, which could help
visitors make sense of what they see. However, to be really successful in this
regard the book would have had to give very much more detail with more
illustrations, even if just black and white sketches. Even with the guide in
hand, visitors are unl ikely without further assistance to be certain what they are
looking at or of its significance. Since there is rarely anyone at the temples to
give informed instruction to visitors, a really detailed guide would be
138 Book Reviews and Notices

Readers of the book will certainly, on completion, have a reasonably clear if

elementary idea of what the various strands within Hinduism believe, They
will know something of how they worship, though more could profitably have
been said about home worship, about ceremonies at rites of passage (since
Hindu weddings are often the one kind of worship that non-Hindus are likely to
see), about arthi and other ritual customs. They will know the names of the
main scriptures and festivals. They will have a grasp of what ceremonies like
firewalking mean to the participants. This is an impressive achievement in a
small book, and a testimony to Diesel and Maxwell's scholarship - since only
one who really understands well can provide a simple summary. I suspect that
even with the book's help the significance of Hindu temple art and iconogra­
phy will still elude the seeker. Perhaps, with the Press's indulgence, another
book may be expected?



Pietermaritzburg, Hadeda Books (an imprint of the University of Natal Press),

1993, 204 pp. illus. R48,99.

If one likes meeting interesting people, then picking up an autogiography

brings pleasurable anticipation, and Pauline Podbrey's book certainly does not
disappoint. Some of the interesting times she has lived in were spent in South
Africa. Her story will have special appeal to anyone with a feeling for the
social and political history of Europe and South Africa in the twentieth
century. The title seems consciously to echo George Bernard Shaw (The
Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God), and in fact GBS himself
makes a brief appearance in the book, when he attends a communist meeting in
Durhan during his visit to South Africa in the 1930s.
The nine-year-old Pauline, together with her mother and younger brother,
arrived in Durban in 1933 to join her father, Berl Podbrey, who had come to
South Africa four years previously to escape the unemployment, oppression
and persecution which were becoming the lot of many Jews in Lithuania.
PauJine remarks, 'Subsequent events in eastern Europe proved that this was the
wisest decision he ever made.'
The family's adjustment to a new life in a new country and Pauline's
schooling at Berea Road Junior School and Durban Girls' High, are the
background to the personal development of a sensitive and intelligent child,
whose parents, though Jewish, were not religious. PauJine tried to bring her
own beliefs to a traditional religious focus, but this did not last. But there was a
strong desire for a philosophical home. Her father was left-wing in politics,
and from an early age Pauline seems to have been consciously searching for a
cause, a movement, a party, which reflected that political position. She soon
recognised the injustice inherent in South African society, and did not
rationalise or banish such thoughts, as most of her Natal-born school friends
did. Her first nine years of life in Lithuania, her own temperament, her family's
experiences and its climate of ideas, combined to make indifference im­
possible. An example from her family's history: as a girl in 1918 Pauline's
mother had witnessed the senseless murder of her parents as they sat at the
Pesach meal ~ .. the sort of horrific incident South Africans have recently seen
139 Book Reviews and Notices

in KwaZulu-Natal and on the East Rand. The following extended extract

admirably captures Pauline's adolescent consciousness with its mixture of
certainty and self-doubt.
'In Durban, in 1935, I often envied my friends Helen, Jane or Melanie for
their carefree ability to enjoy life without the sack of guilt that I seemed to
trundle round with me everywhere. . I burned with indignation at stories of
cruelty or injustice, wishing I was there to stop it yet longing to direct my mind
to easier, pleasanter dreams. I saw myself rushing to save a child from abuse,
warding off a horde of whites burning down a homestead, confronting a mob of
would-be lynchers. My fantasies always began and ended with me leaping in to
save, protect, succour ... Of course it was silly, pointless, even arrogant, I
told myself, to concentrate on white-tipped waves and blue skies, on the smell
of grenadillas and the taste of paw-paws, on pretty clothes, parties, boys. I
didn't want to change places with my friends ... I was different, I had an aim
in life, I would be a revolutionary, a Communist. My friends were selfish,
superficial and lacking in compassion, I consoled myself. Yet these friends of
mine were not hard or insensitive. Helen cried when her cat was run over; Jane
turned green with nausea when she witnessed a man knocked down by a tram;
Melanie talked of becoming a nurse because she wanted to help people. So why
were they so blind to the life around them? How was it that race and colour
could distort their perceptions'?'
With these sensiti vities, her 'sack of guilt', and a desire to do somethi ng and
become involved, Pauline Podbrey was clearly destined for a life of political
activity. She sought out, found and joined the South African Communist Party,
and worked for it and the trades union movement during the late 1930s and
during the Second World War. Her intended marriage across the colour-bar to
H.A. Naidoo, a fellow-worker and leading figure in the Party, caused pain and
consternation even in her enlightened family. Not that her parents disapproved
of her fiance in any way - quite the reverse, in fact - but they were unable
to face the social consequences of such a marriage in Durban, at that time. The
Party's transfer of H. A. and Pauline to Cape Town, with its more relaxed
attitude towards race, enabled them to marry without causing problems for her
family. Her years in Cape Town were clearly a time of great happiness and
fulfilment for Pauline, who writes with great enthusiasm and affection for the
place itself and the many friends the young couple made there. As the
Nationalist government got into its stride after 1948, life became more and
more difficult for people on the political left, especially those whose very
domestic circumstances were anathema to the new rulers of South Africa. H. A.
was 'a person of Indian origin' resident in the Cape without the necessary
permit, and no prospect of obtaining one. He was thus virtually deported back
to Natal, but Pauline remained in Cape Town, because of her work and her
promise to her father not to live in Durban while married to an Indian. H. A.' s
few illegal visits to his wife and child in Cape Town were risky undercover
exercises, and it soon became clear that the couple would be wise to leave
South Africa.
Then followed the subterfuges and adventures of their separate voyages ­
without passports - to England in 1951, their linking up with the Party in
Britain, and their time in Hungary, working for the English Service of Radio
Budapest. They went to Hungary with enthusiasm, grasping the opportunity to
live and work in a communist state, but three and a half years later the
corruption and oppression they saw there had brought disillusionment. Their
outspokenness in questioning and criticising the system placed them in danger,
140 Book Reviews and Notices

even though they were British nationals, and in 1955 they decided to return to
Britain. Their colleagues were nonplussed, and tried to persuade them to stay.
'What if the British don't accept you?' Anna demanded, 'After all, they know
that you've served our government.' 'In that case,' H.A. told her, 'we'll return
to South Africa.' 'You mean,' Anna was incredulous, 'that you'd rather I ive in
racist South Africa than here')' 'Yes,' H. A. told her, 'at least there I have the
possibility of opposing the system, of forming genuine trade unions, of
resisting.' They kncw that returning to Britain would mean a struggle to find
jobs and a home. 'All the same, we deemed it preferable to the oppressive
dishonesty of our present surroundings.'
H. A.' s disillusionment was so complete that he absolutely refused to rejoin
the Party on their return to Britain, but Pauline did so, hoping that her
continued membership would give her opportunities to tell people what was
happening in Hungary. But British communists were no readier to hear her
criticisms than the comrades in Budapest had been. Pauline realised that they
would never be persuaded. 'They didn't want to know. They refused to know.'
Pauline and H. A. learnt to talk of other things when they were with their
communist friends, 'not always easy to political animals such as we ... ' Some
friends could not forgi ve what they regarded as their betrayal of the cause, and
friendships ended. '''Why, you've become a reactionary," Joe Slovo said to
me at a party in London, as if that epithet absolved him from any further
discussion. '
When in 1956 the Hungarian people rose against Soviet oppression, Pauline
and H. A. seriously considered returning to Budapest at the invitation of the
new workers' committee at the radio station. 'We were still debating the pros
and cons when the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest ... On 5 November we
listened on the radio to the last despairing words of Hungarian Premier Imre
Nagy appealing for help which he knew would not come. The words were
muffled, the raido crackled. And then it was cut off. I burst into tears.'
Pauline's youthful faith in God had not endured, and had been replaced by
faith in the Party. Now that had been stripped from her, leaving her feeling
'naked and bereft'. But in rebuilding a philosophical basis for her life, she
could be sure that she would resist injustice wherever she found it, fight racism
in all its forms, and uphold the principles of socialism and democracy. This
outline of her odyssey cannot do justice to the directness, honesty and modesty
with which Pauline Podbrey tells her story, nor to the wealth of interesting
detail it contains. She played a part in the unfolding of political events in this
century, and we can be grateful that she decided to publish her personal
account of it.


BAYNES, Joseph. Letters addressed to the Governor of Natal and Her

Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies regarding the absence of
consideration in our present form of government for our coloured people.
Introduced by John Lambert. Durban: Killie Campbell Africana Library,
and Pietermaritzburg; University of Natal Press, 1992.
First published in 1906, and written against the backdrop of the
Bhambatha Rebellion, Baynes highlights the lack of justice then apper­
taining in the Colony.
Book Reviews and Notices 141

DADOO, Y. M. Facts about the Ghetto Act.

NAICKER, G. M. A historical synopsis of the Indian question in South
Africa. Introduced by Barry Vv'hite. Durban: Killie Campbell Africana
Library, and Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1993.
Naicker's synopsis, compiled in 1945, comprises statistics about Indians
in South Africa and includes a list of the 66 laws and ordinances
discriminating against them. Written in the following year, Dadoo's
pamphlet deals with yet another such law, the 1946 Asiatic Land Tenure
and Indian Representation Act. The act was designed to confine Indians
and other Asiatics in segregated areas, while at the same time giving a
qualified franchise in Natal and the Transvaal.
FRITSCH, Gustav. A German traveller in Natal: three chapters from Drei
lahre in Sad Afrika. Translated by Gerlind Lyttle; introduced by Ian
Hilton. Durban: Killie CampbelI Africana Library, and Pietermaritzburg:
University of Natal Press, 1992.
Fritsch, a scientist, and photographer, visited Natal between September
and November 1864. His emphasis is on the flora and fauna, and on the
indigenous peoples.
HUMPHREYS, William Clayton. The journal of William Clayton
Humphreys. Introduced by Julie Pridmore. Durban: KiIlie CampbelI
Africana Library, and Pieternaritzburg: University of Natal Press,
A hitherto-unpublished journal of a trading and hunting expedition to the
Zulu country between July and October 1851.
LAMB, Ridgeway H. Hard times in Natal and the way out. Introduced by
John Lambert. Durban: KiIlie Campbell Africana Library, and Pieter­
maritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1992.
First published in 1908. Like Baynes' pamphlet above, Lamb's provides
comment on the situation in Natal shortly before Union. Lamb attributes
the 'undesirable condition' of the Colony's financial, political, commer­
cial and social affairs to the lack of justice.
MARWICK, 1. S. The natives in the larger towns: a lecture delivered in
Durban, August 1918. Introduced by Alex Mouton.
RICH, S. G. Notes on Natal. Reprinted from The International socialist
Review, 1917. Introduced by Chantelle Wyley. Durban: KilIie Campbell
Africana Library, and Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1993.
Marwick, a man with a long history of African administration, (in the
Transvaal mines he had earned the Zulu Name Muhle - a good or kind
person) was appointed in 1916 by the Durban Corporation a~ the first
manager of its Native Affairs Department. His lecture set out methods for
controlling and guiding the ever-increasing numbers of Africans moving
to the towns, and for preserving good relations between the races. In
contrast, Rich's pamphlet is 'perhaps the first published attempt at a
description of the Natal economy in terms of labout exploitation, and the
encroachment of the expanding Natal industrial and agricultural sectors
on African owned or occupied land', according to the introduction. A
teacher at the American Board of Commissioners' Adams College, Rich
appears to have been a prominent Durban member ot the International
Socialist League (South Africa) for the short tim~ he was in Natal.
Select List of Recent Natal


[This list includes publications omitted from Natalia 22. Other Natal publica­
tions are reviewed elsewhere in this journal]

ALEXANDER, David. Sani Pass: riding the dragon. Westville: David

Alexander, 1992.
ATKINS, Keletso E. 'The moon is dead') Give us our money: the cultural
origins of an African work ethnic, 1843-1900. Portsmouth (New Hamp­
shire) and London: Heinemann and James Currey, 1993.
ART, DESIGN, ARCHITECTURE (ADA) Magazine. Durban and surrounds.
Cape Town: ADA Magazine, 1994.
BAGW ANDEEN, Dowlat. A people on trial - for breaching racism: the
struggle for land and housing of the Indian people of Natal, 1940-1946.
Durban: Madi ba, 1991.
BEARSHA W, Tom. Directory of Natal Midlands rural development organisa­
tions. Pietermaritzburg: Centre for Adult Education, University of Natal,
BHANA, S. Essays on indentured Indians in Natal. Yorkshire: Peepal Tree
Press, 1991.
CAPTURING the event: conflict trends in the Natal region. 1986-1992.
Durban, Centre for Social and Development Studies, University of Natal,
C. G. SMITH SUGAR LIMITED. C. G. Smith Sugar: one hundred years;
researched by Alan Herbert, written by Phi lip Clarke. Durban: the
Company, 1992.
COWLEY, Ian. People of hope: the local church as agent of change. Guildford:
Highland Books, 1993.
CUBBIN, Tony. Empangeni, 1894-1994: a special centenary commemorative
issue. Empangeni: Zululand Historical Society, 1994.
proposed Tugela-Mhlatuze River government water scheme. WP E-94.
Pretoria: Government Printer, 1994.
DUFFIELD, Ernie. The history of the Rothmans July Handicap. Cape Town:
Struik, 1992.
ENVIRONMENTAL Impact Assessment: eastern shores of Lake St Lucia:
Kingsa/Tojan Lease Area. Pretoria: C.S.I.R. Environmental Services,


GANDHI, Ela. Mohandas Gandhi: the South Africa years. Cape Town: Maskew
Miller Longman, 1994. (They fought for freedom series)
GIBSON, Perla Siedle. Lady in white: an autobiography; foreword and postscript
by her daughter Joy Liddiard. Compiled and edited by Sam Morley. Northaw
(Herts.): Aedificamus Press, 1991.
GODBOLD, Brian. Mountains, bullets and blessings: the autobiography of Brian
Godbold. Kloof: the Author, 1991.
GOONAM Dr. Coolie doctor: an autobiography of Dr Goonam. Durban: Madiba
Publications, 1991.
HENNING, e.G. The indentured Indians in Natal. New Delhi: Prornilla, 1993.
(Durban, Adams).
HILLIARD, O.M. Trees and Shrubs of the Natal Drakensberg. 2nd ed. rev.
Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1992.
HOEPFL, Jenny and Lake, e. & M. The story of Hilton Road village: The Authors,
IRRIGAnON in Natal. Pietermaritzburg: Department of Agricultural Devel­
opment, Natal Region, 1992.
IRWIN, Dave and Pat. A field guide to the Natal Drakensberg. 2nd ed. rev.
Grahamstown: Rhodes University, 1992.
JOHNSTON, Peter and NAIDOO, Hyacinthia. Durban's heritage explored ... on
walks and drives around the city; illustrated by John Churchill Simpson.
Durban: Adams, 1994.
JOHNSON, Sheryl. A sprig of heath: a family history [the McLean family].
Swartberg: the Author, 1991.
IONES, Huw M. A biographical register of Swaziland to 1902. Pietermaritzburg:
University of Natal Press, 1993.
MARKHAM, Alfred. Ladysrnith and Lydenburg: Anglo-Boer War letters of Alfred
Markham; ed. by Grant Christison. Pietermaritzburg: 1993.
MSHENGU, Thulani, NDLOVU, Jabu and FAIRBAIRN, Jean. Asinamali: the life
of Msizi Dube. Pietermaritzburg: Hadeda Books, 1992. (Natal worker history
series). Also available in Zulu.
MINNAAR, Anthony, ed. Patterns of violence: case studies of conflict in Natal.
Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council, 1992.
MINNAAR, A. de V. u-Shukela: a history of the growth and development ofthe
sugar industry in Zululand, 1905 to the present. Pretoria: Human Sciences
Research Council, 1992.
MOLL, Eugene. Trees of Natal. 2nd ed. rev. Cape Town: EcoLab Trust Fund,
University of Cape Town, 1992.
POSSELT, Wilhelm. Wilhelm Posselt: a pioneer missionary among the Xhosa and
Zulu and the first pastor of New Germany. His own reminiscences translated
and edited by S. Bourquin. Westville: Bergtheil Museum, 1994. (Review to
follow in Natalia 25)
READY, AYE READY: a history of Merchiston Preparatory School, 1892-1992.
Pietermaritzburg: the School, 1993.
RECORDS OF NATAL Yol.3 August Ul35-June 1838; ed. by B.J.T. Leverton.
Pretoria: Government Printer, 1990. (South African archival records:
Important Cape documents Vol. 6).
RECORDS OF NATAL Vol.4 July 1838-September 1839; ed. by B.J.T.
Leverton. Pretoria: Government Printer, 1992. (South African archival
records: Important Cape documents, Vol. 7).
STEELE, Nick. Poachers in the hills: Norman Deane's life in Hluhluwe Game
Reserve. Melmoth: the Author, 1992.

VAN BALDEREN, D. Historical flood documentation series, No.l. Natal and

Transkei, 1848-1969. Pretoria: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry,
1992 (Technical report TR 147).
YOUNG, John. They feII like stones: battles and casualties of the Zulu War, 1879.
London: Greenhill Books, 1991.

Notes on Contributors
BILL BAINBRIDGE is a former head of the Planning Section of the Natal
Parks Board.
BILL BIZLEY is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at the
University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg and a member of the Natalia editorial
MORA Y COMRIE is Senior Head of Department at the Natal College of
Education, Pietermaritzburg.
MICHAEL DAL Y is a lawyer and President of the Natal Society.
JOHN DEANE is a former Chief Director in the Natal Education Department
and acted as associate editor for the production of this issue of Natalia.
BEVERLEY ELLIS is an MA student at the University of Natal, Pietermaritz­
burg, and a teacher at Girls High School in the same city.
BILL GUEST is a Professor of History at the University of Natal and a member
of the Natalia editorial committee.
BRENDA GOURLEY is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of
SHEILA HENDERSON is doyenne of northern Natal historians and Chairman
of the Natal Provincial Museums Advisory Board.
TERRY KING is head of the Fine Arts Department of the University of Natal,
PA T MERRETT is a freelance researcher who co-edited the Killie Camp bell
Library reprint of Robert Briggs Struthers' Hunting 10urnaI1852-/856 in the
Zulu Kingdom and the Tsonga regions.
KHABA MKHIZE is a journalist, playwright and assistant editor of the Natal
IAN PLAYER is an internationally recognised conservationist and head of the
Wilderness Leadership School.
CARMEL RICKARD is a graduate of the universities of Natal and Rhodes and
a journalist with the Sunday Times.
SHELAGH SPENCER is editor of the multi-volume series A biographical
register of Natal Settlers to 1860.
JON WHITE is a Pietermaritzburg attorney and former journalist.