Arts & Crafts

Johan Lemmer

Johan with one of his carvings at an art exhibition
Johan Lemmer carving a statue from wood
  • Sculpting
  • Painting
  • Writing



by Johan Lemmer

After the siege of Mafeking (Mafekeng) came to an end, the Marico commando, then still under the command of General Snyman, was sent to protect that portion of the Transvaal Republic bordering onto Botswana - an area stretching from Lobatsi in the South up to Derdepoort in the North.

The objective was to stop the British, then congregating in Gaborone, after having landed in Beira on their way from India. General Snyman established his headquarters on top of Abjaterskop, from where he could observe much of the territory under his command.

As is the practice in this kind of warfare, where the opposing parties are quite some distance from one another, both sides sent out patrols. These patrols were to scout the area under dispute to find out what the next move of the enemy might be. It so happened that one morning a young British soldier on such a patrol was captured and brought to the Boer headquarters for interrogation. As is the case with most of the Boers, General Snyman could not speak or understand English and he gave orders to his staff officer, Piet Roux, to interrogate the young man and report to him. The old general was a rather quick tempered and  impatient old gentleman and before the soldier could answer any of the questions put to him, General Snyman would interrupt with: “Piet, wat sê die Engelsman.” (“Piet, what is the Englishman saying?” and so it carried on without end or making any progress.

For this young British soldier, used to the strict military discipline of the British army, the continuous interruption of this old trekboer with his wild beard and untrimmed hair, must have appeared very strange and peculiar and so it happened that he asked Roux something.

Immediately the General reacted again: “Piet, wat sê die Engelsman?” Piet, who by this time, was somewhat fed up with the continuous interference, replied, “Hy vra of jy die antichris is.” (“He asks whether you are the antichrist.”)

For this staunch old trekboer, such a remark was regarded as a profanity which deserved no less a punishment than the death sentence and he pulled out his mauser revolver and aimed it at the young man. Piet quickly jumped forward and grabbed the revolver from the deeply insulted old man’s hand and tried to sooth him. The young tommie was released and told to get out of sight of the fuming old general.

An interesting aftermath of this happening, is that as late as 1934, Piet Roux received a letter from the England, wherein the writer claims to be the young soldier who was captured that day at Abjaterskop and again expressed his appreciation to Roux for having saved his life.

(See Piet Roux’s signature on the list of signatories at Melrose House,  where he signed as the member for the Marico district at the Vereeniging Peace Conference.)

A Row of pebbles

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A Row of pebbles

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