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ABSTRACTS & QUOTES

SCORCHED EARTH

Houses burned


Captain March-Phillips wrote in his book, With Rimington:
‘The worst moment is when you first come to the house. The people thought we had called for refreshments, and one of the women went to get milk. Then we had to tell them we had to burn the place down.

I simply didn’t know which way to look … I gave the inmates, three women and some children, ten minutes to clear their clothes and things out of the house and my men then fetched bundles of straw and proceeded to burn it down. The old grandmother was very angry … Most of them, however, were too miserable to curse.

The women cried and the children stood by holding on to them, staring with large frightened eyes at the burning house.’ He ends by saying:  'They won't forget that sight, I'll bet a sovereign, not even when they grow up. We rode away and left them, a forlorn group, standing among their househols goods - beds, furniture, and grimcracks strewn about the veldt; the crackling fire in their ears, and smoke and flames streaming overhead.'

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Lizzie van Zyl
Preface

Introduction

Humiliation

Transmission of Trauma

A British smear campaign
againts the Afrikaners...

Scorched Earth

On Forgiveness...

Moral Reasoning

Brief Biography of a 'quite
civilized Afrikaner'


 

 

 

 

 

An Australian Pastor, who was part of the Australian Bushmen-volunteers, wrote the following on 14th October 1900:
‘Then began the most diabolical work I have yet witnessed. Every house in the valley, probably 20 in all, was burned to the ground. Women and children stood in groups, the children rending the air with their cries. (…)  The women were admirable. Not a tear bedewed their eyes.’ He then relates a personal encounter which he had with one of the women: “Will you”, she said, “try to save my house from the fire?” “I shall do so at once”, I answered, and kept my promise, but my pleading was to no avail. The woman stood there in the veld, one child in her arms and three others hanging onto her skirts, while her home was falling into ruins and the flames rose forty feet high.’
He further relates how he spoke to the woman afterwards, telling her that he had tried in vain to save her house. After thanking him (shaking his hand) she called him to the side, showing him the relics of her new white apron, and saying: "it was from this I tore the bandages for one of your wounded men (Beaumont). I carried him in my arms from the field and bandaged his arm. He rested on my bed till the blankest were sodden with blood; "and this", she said, "is my reward?" (waving her hand towards the house in flames) - she said: "this is the work of Australians. They are not soldiers, they are house burners and looters." He continues, 'I begged to disagree from her, but her face was now livid, and her eyes blazing with rage.' "My boy," she said, placing her hand on his head, "is ten years old, but I trust I shall live to see him handle a rifle, and avenge this insult to his mother."

Raath, A.W.G., Die Boerevrou, 1899-1902, p.98

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Animals killed

As the women and children fled, they came upon the most awful sights - the killing fields the British had left behind. One fleeing group came upon an old Boer, Hans Koekemoer, a sheep farmer. One of the women told the following tale: ‘The Khakis gathered all the sheep in the thick grass, threw fuel over them and set them alight. Those which still lived were cut up while still alive, some with their stomachs cut open –they walked around with bodies cut open. The ewes had full udders [which meant they had suckling young]. She relates what a terrible sight it was, ewes walking and grazing with their intestines dragging behind them on the ground. She further relates how they then, out of mercy, took knives and helped the old man to cut the throats of these last struggling animals of his. It was too terrible she says. Out of a thousand sheep, the old man had only twenty left.

Marais, Pets, Die vrou in die Anglo-Boereoorlog 1899-1902, p.75

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A survivor recalls that he had to watch all his sheep being killed in one heap. How Remington’s troops, on the night of 1st July, killed his cattle. He says the night was too cruel for him to think about. He recounts how the troops came from the town Heilbron to burn his farm, all his food, his bedding and his clothes, and how they hacked off the ankle muscles of fifteen of his cattle, most of them oxen. There, wailing in pain, he says, lay his animals – while they hacked the big pigs’ backs in two, leaving the animals alive, kicking and howling. ‘Oh! That night, what a bitter night it was’, he says. He goes on to say that through the night they shot at his house, right through his dining room where a bullet struck his little daughter. She fell, but he says the bullet was maybe not made for her [she lived]. That night, he says, he saw that God can look after one [he and his family] better than any man or burgher. ‘He [God] can protect. Oh, the ‘thousands’ that were there that night … treated us so inhumanely. Set my house alight, but only after they locked … the housemaid’s two children in the house. The two coloured children screaming! Oh, the old maid and I begged them to please first get the two children out of the burning house.’ At last, he says, he could get the one brutal man to open the door, so they could drag out the little coloured girl and the boy, nearly dead from the smoke. “Oh…” he says, “all the crying and calling was heard by God and written up by Him.” 

 Buys, Magrietha, (5.3.1867-2.10.1920) South African Journal of Culture and Art History; Vol 1, No 1, March 1987


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