Arts & Crafts
AN INCIDENT ON ABJATERSKOP DURING THE ANGLO-BOER WAR
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
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.
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.
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.)
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