Camissa Embrace Ch: 3





A note on the 15 Ethnic Cleansing Wars:

The first ten of these wars (1652 – 1879) essentially were land grabs, expropriation of water and blatant theft of livestock from the Khoena (or Khoi) people. In the last third of these ten wars the attention was largely focused on the extermination through genocide of the Cape San (/Xam). The modus operandi of this aggression was the granting of grazing rights to settler Trekboers in land occupied by indigenes; the seizure of land through gradual settler creep; conflict arising out of the former; the use of mobile militia and arms to defend the grazer-settler; resistance by the Indigenes and outbreaks of intense hostilities constituting war. The conquest would then be sealed by the VOC recording the seized land and turning these into Loan Farms (Leningplaats) whereby the settler-farmer paid a monthly fee to the VOC plus an annual tax at one tenth of annual earnings from produce and livestock sales. In the wake of each war a pacification process including de-tribalisation of Indigenes would take place.

Ultimately these wars progressively established first the Cape District frontier, then the Stellenbosch frontier, followed by the Swellendan and Graaff Reinet frontiers, and this is how the Cape Colony was formed. Expropriation of Indigene land and destruction of their independent sustainable livelihoods was violently done without compensation and most times after destructive warfare those removed from their land, who survived, were presented with no option but to sign peace treaties.

The tenth war of 1779 – 1789 dovetailed with the first of five of the 9 wars against the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape. The first five of the Eastern Cape are aggregated with the ten wars because those five wars involved a condeferation of Khoi and Gqunukhwebe, a mixed Khoi-Xhosa people of the Zuurveld and frontier area. The last of the Khoi fighters allied with the mixed Xhosa-Khoi leading general Makhana of the Xhosa forces and after the fifth war both the Xhosa and leading resistance figures led by Makhana and by David Stuurman and Makhana’s brother-in-law were incarcerated on Robben Island. The Xhosa wars continued for another 50 years up to the declaration of the new border of the Cape Colony after 1879, but I end the 176 years of war in 1828 when Ordinance 50 was passed to repeal the Hottentot Codes of 1809, turning the Khoi into detribalised pacified proletaria labour in the Cape. By 1841 the progression of these ordinances resulted in the Masters and Servants laws.

A note on the definition of Ethnic Cleansing:

The simplest definition of Ethnic Cleansing is the deliberate and systematic removal of a racial, political, or cultural group from a specific geographical area[207]. The Final Report of the Commission of Experts established pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 defined ethnic cleansing as “a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas”[208]. Ethnic cleansing in the broad sense is the forcible deportation of a population and this is defined as a crime against humanity under the statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC)[209]. Ethnic Cleansing can simply be defined as ‘the forcible removal of an ethnically defined population from a given territory’ and as ‘occupying the central part of a continuum between genocide on one end and nonviolent pressured ethnic emigration on the other end’.[210]

A note on the definition of Genocide:    

The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (article 2) defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to  destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious  group … “, including:  Killing members of the group;  Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Perhaps better and more succinctly, Adhikari[211] provides this definition –“Genocide is the intentional physical destruction of a social group in its entirety, or the intentional annihilation of such a significant part of the group that it is no longer able to reproduce itself biologically or culturally, nor sustain an independent economic existence.”

A note on Ethnocide:

Ethnocide describes the destructive consequences to peoples that follow from their removal from their traditional lands and territories, in violation of their human integrity and their human rights. The Oxford dictionary provides the simplest definition as –the deliberate and systematic destruction of the culture of an ethnic group”. Jaulin[212]says that “rather than being defined by the means it is the ends that define ethnocide. Accordingly, the ethnocide would be the systematic destruction of the thought and the way of life of people different from those who carry out this enterprise of destruction. Whereas the genocide assassinates the people in their body, the ethnocide kills them in their spirit.” Sometimes the term ‘cultural ethnocide’ is used.

A note on the legal and economic instruments used alongside the ethnic clearing wars for land expropriation from Africans:

I would like to recommend that the reader also reads an excellent paper by Alan Dye[213] that looks at the legal and economic instruments used alongside the wars of dispossession of the land; “From land grants to loan farms; Property rights and the extent of settlement in Dutch South Africa 1652 – 1750 “

This is particularly important when one looks at the issue of “INTENT” and who all were the beneficiaries of land theft, and the wars that enabled dispossession.

It looks at the four tier instruments of land possession – 1) the early land grant system; 2) the grazing rights licencing system; 3) the ‘first possession’ system catering for Trekboers and encouraging expropriation; 4) the ‘leningplaats’ system (loan farm system). These were the economic tools that ran alongside aggression, war and genocide and the process of dispossession of the land.

The emergent conflict that started with the undermining of Autshumao’s trading settlement at the Camissa River in Table Bay in 1652 (see chapter 2) and that continued in 1658 with what is noted as the first Dutch-Khoena war of 1658 -1660 and what happened to the Goringhaicona, Goringhaiqua and the Gorachouqua by 1679 as a result, was just the curtain-raiser to 176 years of warfare that wiped out the │Xam (or Cape San), severely damaged the Khoena and totally disrupted their social cohesion and organisation.

It is this prolonged push against the Indigenes and their resistance to this aggression that is fundamental to understanding what became of the Khoena (or Khoi) people, their social formations, leadership structures, language, culture, their land, rich livestock and all that made up their society. The story of the Khoena is a story of cultural ethnocide. In other words, whereas a much reduced yet numerically large Khoena population was scattered but survived, their ethnic coherence was destroyed and they became largely de-tribalised, and later even de-Africanised.

Our history books are silent about how the original Cape Colony in today’s Cape Town City Bowl area grew into a territory that stretched to the Kai !Gariep River in the northwest and to the Keiskamma River in the northeast after 176 years. It is generally not known that a series of ethnic clearing wars resulted in the de-tribalisation of Cape Indigenes and turned them into pacified proletarian labourers regardless of the valiant resistance inch by inch as first the Boers and then the British took over their land.

What is also glaringly absent is the story of the complete decimation of the │Xam (or Cape San) people through deliberate acts of genocide. The scale of warfare and resistance was larger and longer than any dispossession conflict by the Europeans against the African population anywhere else in Southern Africa, possibly even in Africa. The Xhosa and Zulu wars were of shorter duration and without such great devastation as those the Khoena, and the │Xam in particular, experienced. The general script of South African history is highly skewed in this regard and descendants are now in a bizarre manner called a “non-African” minority.

As much as the story of a port which was founded by Indigenes long before the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck is a vital piece of our missing history, and the story of the many and diverse ‘migrants of colour’ to the Cape is another important piece of our missing history, so too is the story of over 176 years of warfare as a result of colonial incursion and the resistance to dispossession.

One of the things that reinforced a skewed history of anti-colonial resistance is that the conflict in the Eastern Cape has drowned out everything else in the history books. What Nigel Penn[214] calls the ‘Forgotten Frontier of the Northwestern Cape’ and how it evolved and extended up to the Kai !Gariep River is totally muted. One of the reasons for this is probably the complexity of this drawn out struggle. Regardless of many excellent academic resources on this story, there is no school level history providing an easy to understand story of how the Cape was made into an expansive colony, in the same manner that the nine wars in the Eastern Cape have been made available in curricula. How the Western Cape was prized from the Indigene population is a glaring gap created by collaboration between the academic mainstream and colonial and Apartheid ideological influences, which manipulated history. It suggests that it is because this story is such a horrific part of the foundations of white South Africa that they felt it better to expunge it from memory.

This chapter largely draws on existing works to break down snatches of history and fashion them into a brief linear account, which otherwise would require a huge amount of reading. This is essentially a teaching aid and readers are encouraged to consult the more in-depth works. What this chapter seeks to do is to project a  breakdown of wars of conquest and resistance that led to the creation of the Cape Colony, similar to the one available for the nine Eastern Cape wars, in as simple a format as possible. What this chapter also does is to show how the first five wars in the nine Eastern Cape wars overlap with and are in fact also the last five wars of the Western Cape indigenes’ struggles. This chapter is also framed as an educational aid, to complement four others in this book. It also compliments some other educational aids from a heritage activist perspective, to challenge the skewed historical approach taken by institutions of memory and in universities and schools. It is part of a much broader effort to challenge colonial narrative domination in national heritage discourse.

This chapter takes the form of a brief but comprehensive chronology, which fills in the missing years and events. It purposely does not delve into fine detail but those interested in the detail should follow up in reading the literature listed in the citations. What I have attempted to do here is to follow a similar format to the manner in which the nine frontier wars are dealt with in teaching history. Indeed two sets of wars dovetail in the last five of the earlier southwestern Cape and central Cape wars and the first five of the Eastern Cape wars. It is an argument that the progression of wars was artificially separated simply for a denial narrative.

1652 – 1658  The beginning of the oppression culture of ‘Forced Removals’

During this time Jan van Riebeeck undercut and undermined the Camissa proto-port settlement of Autshumao. The independent entrepreneur’s operation was destroyed as though it never previously existed. Along with the rendering of the Indigene-run Camissa operation redundant, the operations of independent indigene livestock farmers on the Cape Peninsula such as Aikinsoa were also displaced.

Van Riebeeck came up with one scheme after another to forcibly remove the Khoena (or Khoi) of the Peninsula. Elphick[215] relying on correspondence between Jan van Riebeeck and the VOC shows how Van Riebeeck first presented a plan to the VOC to seize all the Peninsula Khoena, take their cattle, sling them in chains and put them to work in chain-gangs dedicated to catching seals and digging for silver. It was rejected by the VOC. Then he floated the idea of establishing a large concentration camp in Hout Bay guarded by a series of redoubts (forts), where the indigenes would be forced to breed cattle for the VOC. When this was rejected by the company as being too expensive he backed, though be it reluctantly, a hair-brained scheme of van Goens. Van Goens proposed digging a canal between False Bay and Table Bay, thereby creating a sort of defensible island and forcibly expelling all of the Peninsula Khoena to the other side. He also put through a request to the VOC to deport the Khoena as slaves to the East[216]. Finally, van Riebeeck built a series of redoubts (fortifications) and an almond hedge as a frontier barrier. Forced removals became his major preoccupation and this led to the first war against the Khoena, who did everything they could to disrupt the colonial settlement once they realised that the Dutch were digging in permanently and stealing their land. For Jan van Riebeeck to be so preoccupied with expulsion and defence indicates that the Indigenes fiercely resisted a permanent presence of the Dutch and the loss of their lucrative trade with passing ships.

Van Riebeeck is often presented as a benevolent VOC official, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Effectively he was the founding father of three and a half centuries of forced removals. In plain language the establishment of a colony was a deliberate European policy of expropriation of African land and farming livestock without compensation. Despite evidence to the contrary, the mythology of Khoena indigenes not being enslaved also remains a popular myth. Having introduced slavery at the Cape, within 120 years of the first pacification of Cape Khoena introduced by Van Riebeeck, a localised form of slavery dressed up as apprenticeships, together with restrictions on freedom of movement using pass laws, had forced the Khoena to live lives of enslavement on farms too. On the frontier most especially Khoena became slaves as they were treated in the same manner as imported slaves.

To be able to understand the ethnic clearing wars one needs to get a good idea of how the four districts were created by the VOC and how their boundaries were established, because for instance Stellenbosch then was not the Stellenbosch we know today. One also needs to know the locations of the indigenous peoples of those districts, and these locations may not correspond to the rough map presented by Elphick that is in popular use. Here below are the four districts in a map drawn after the establishment of the last District of Graaff Reinet. Each of these districts came into being after the conquest of Indigenes within those territories and, in the case of the last district, while the conflicts were proceeding. The map[217] below shows the four Cape Colony districts in 1795.


The indigenes of the Cape District were the Goringhaiqua, the Gorachouqua, the Camissa traders also called Goringhaicona and a number of independent Khoena (or Khoi) farmers. On the north-western outskirts there were also the larger and wealthy in livestock, Griguriqua and Cochouqua peoples, and smaller clans thereof such as the Ubiqua of Tulbagh area. Dominating the southern part of the Stellenbosch District and the entire border region of the Cape District the Cochouqua also later featured as did the Goringhaiqua and Gorachouqua. Later, even some of the Chainoqua were lured into this area by the Dutch. On the western seaboard were the Griguriqua and Namaqua.

The Griguriqua were mostly herders subordinate to and part of the Namaqua. On both sides of the ‘Hottentots’ Holland mountains, hugging the south-eastern border of the Stellenbosch District, were the Chainouqua. In the central and north eastern borderline of the Stellenbosch District in the Karoo were the │Xam Sonqua clan which interfaced with the Khoena Ubiqua clan of the Cochouqua, both of whom had adopted some of the Griguriqua herding ways alongside their hunter-gatherer way of life. Then the Swellendam District was formed with the Chainouqua and offshoot clans in the south and along the borderline of the Stellenbosch District. The Hessequa, Attaqua, Houteniqua and Gouriqua were in the central region of the Swellendam District from the Breede River to the Gamtoos. The northern reaches of the Swellendam District through to the Great Fish River which was part of the Graaff Reinet District was home to the Gamtoos, a few Damasqua who had drifted down from the large concentration of Damasqua in the Northern Cape (Riemvasmaak), Gonaqua and Hoengeyqua.  The Inqua were in the region of Aberdeen in the 1715 when fully incorporated into the Xhosa.

Elphick’s map[218] which is often used to locate Khoena tribes and clans is an approximation in broad brush strokes as acknowledged by the author. It should not be rigidly used as some tend to do for purposes of claims and identification. By the 1740s that entire positioning of peoples had dramatically changed for a variety of reasons. By the year 1715, the Inqua had ceased to be an independent entity. Pieres[219] tells us that their three clans were incorporated into the Xhosa and became part of the House of Phalo. In fact eleven of the Khoena tribes and clans in the Eastern Cape and were part of the founding of the Xhosa Kingdom. In the south down to the Gamtoos the Gonaqua, Gamtoos, Damasqua and Hoengeyqua all went into alliances with the mixed Xhosa-Khoena confederacy of the Gqunukhwebe by the time of the last Khoena wars and start of the first Xhosa wars. The Gqunukhwebe and Gonaqua and the other tribes were more or less one entity of Xhosa with Khoena characteristics. Today it is mainly the Xhosa who are descendants.

Then from the territory where the borders of three districts meet and including both sides of the Graaff Reinet borders and the Swarteberg, Nieuwveld, Sneeuberg and Stormberg mountains, including the surrounding rivers was allXamka  territory  of the Cape San people, the /Xam, where the heaviest fighting and casualties occurred and where the biggest genocide campaigns took place. If one does not understand this colonial carve up of territory and the location of peoples one will get lost in the detail and arrive at the wrong conclusions. One will see in the progression of Cape Colony Census from 1865 -1904 exactly where the surviving Khoena were residing once the greater Cape Colony was established. Many go horribly wrong and jump to the wrong conclusions when using the very rough sketch produced in Richard Elphick’s[220] work. Many of the identified entities had already ceased to exist as separate formations within 60 years of a colonial presence because of the slaughter and pacification process. The wars outlined here will give a better idea as to what actually happened and which group was in any particular area.


Nommoa’s Peninsula War was the  period of Nommoa’s (Doman) campaign to reclaim Camissa and the broader ║Hui !Gaeb (Peninsula), involving a fightback when the Cape Peninsula had by stealth been appropriated by the Dutch from the Peninsula Khoena (Goringhaiqua, Gorachouqua and the Camissa people- (also known as the Goringhaicona) who fought a war of resistance to the Dutch occupation.[221] As a result the Goringhaicona/Camissa traders were totally destroyed; their leader only surviving because he was incarcerated at the time that van Riebeeck put a bounty on the heads of the resisting Camissa traders. They were felled in a surprise night time attack by bounty hunters near Fish Hoek.

The catalyst for the war was the granting of farms to free-burghers by Jan van Riebeeck, along the Liesbeeck grazing lands of the Khoena people, without any negotiations or permission from the Indigenes. It was pure land theft by the Dutch in the same way as happened when the Dutch built the Fort de Goede Hoop on top of the Camissa settlement of the Indigenes. The war broke out after a number of conflicts between Indigenes and the Dutch farmers where the Dutch were curtailing freedom of movement and grazing of Indigene livestock.

Nommoa’s war could be seen as having ended in a stalemate and even possibly a victory of sorts for the Khoena as there was no decisive initial win for the Dutch. But the war had worn down each side and the Dutch realised that to take decisive control required that they need to import horses so that the mobility of cavalry could give them an advantage A sober look at the facts show that while the war was not won by the Dutch, the peace certainly was won by them through incremental dispossession tactics.

Jan van Riebeeck[222]  in his journal states very clearly that the Khoi while in peace discussions protested that “the Dutch claim that the land of Table Bay and the Peninsula was not big enough for both the Dutch and the Indigenes; but who should in justice give way, the rightful owner or the foreign intruder?” Van Riebeeck’s response was to tell them “your land has fallen to us in a defensive war, won by the sword, as it were, and we intended to keep it.”

This was acknowledgment of a claim by right of conquest. As such the Dutch dictated the terms of the ‘peace’ and imposed curtailment of movement along designated paths of passage onto the land now claimed They later dictated where the Indigenes could reside first in the Hout and Bergh valleys and then further away, once they had brought in horses for mobile policing of their rules.

Jan van Riebeeck had simply told the Indigenes that the land on the Peninsula was now no longer theirs and expelled the Khoena (Goringhaiqua and Gorachouqua) from the area of the Peninsula right through to the ‘Hottentots’ Holland Mountains and behind the Tygerberg.

The Dutch said that the Peninsula was the Dutch’s Holland and the mountains far away was the ‘Hottentots Holland’ and this bears testament to the theft of African land as the mountains remain so named to this day. The garrison at the Fort and an almond hedge defensive frontier line with watchtowers then protected the colonists including those burghers given grants of land. This approach of seizing land, expelling Indigenes and setting in place a cordon frontier would set the edges for clearing independent indigenes and their livestock farming economy from the face of the Cape.

Historians Schoemann[223] and Elphick[224] note that having imposed their take-over of the Peninsula by conquest, the Dutch needed more than this imposition on the Indigenes to legally keep their European rivals at bay. So they drafted up treaties in language suitable for their territorial claims to other European powers, fearing that tensions in Europe could result in others claiming the Cape. These so-called ‘treaties’ of convenience were concluded with personalities with no real authority to sign such a giving away, post conquest, of the territory of the expanse of the Cape District.

Schoemann[225]  shows that the first treaty was signed by Osingkhimma supposedly as ‘Hereditary Overlord’ of all Cape people. Osingkhimma had no such authority. The second signatory was an underage ‘Chief’ D’hau guided and co-signed by his guardian Dackkgy (Kuiper). Schoemann further tells us that these treaties effectively were a transfer of the entire southwestern Cape to the Dutch. It was clearly a sleight of hand move. Schoemann[226] puts it very well in saying what these Indigenes received was “trivial recompense, although they had no right or authority to do so and probably did not even understand the nature and implications of the transaction.” In modern times it would simply be called fraud. This trickery was concluded in 1672 after the fact of the earlier state ‘seizure by conquest’ and just a year before the second Khoi-Dutch war. Elphick[227]  notes that the records show that between the three signatories they got tobacco, beads, brandy and bread to the value of 115 Guilders; whereas the ‘treaties falsely claimed payment of 10 000 Guilders.


The War on Oedesoa and Gonnema was a protracted war in comparison to the first war, with many episodes, some of which continued beyond 1677 as mopping up aggression by the Dutch in the 1690s. This was primarily a war of aggression by the Dutch and defence by the Khoena; primarily the Cochouqua.

It started with a ruthless systematic crushing of the Cochoqua and seizure of thousands of head of livestock. The Dutch were helped by Khoi allies who had grievances with Gonnema. This war in itself showed up the farce of the so-called treaties of the previous year with unrepresentative minor leadership characters of small groups of displaced Peninsula Indigenes. The war was initiated by the Dutch who had normalised attacking and thieving livestock of the Cochouqua using terror tactics. The initial responses to the attacks were to retreat rather than engage and then the Dutch would simply steal the cattle and consolidate their presence by land-grabs and control of water resources.

During Oedasoa and Gonnema’s War their aims were self-protection with some efforts to counter consolidation of the Cape District. Oedesoa had during van Riebeeck’s time already moved some of his numerically large forces and resources from the West Coast hinterland closer in a de facto penning in of the Dutch settlement at the Peninsula. Annually they would move closer and then retreat as was the custom for grazing. But the Dutch wanted to expand and needed more land.

Through a system of giving settlers grazing rights, as each year went by the settlers and the Indigene clashes grew more frequent. The Dutch through a combination of newly introduced cavalry, which meant mobile firepower, and ‘divide and conquer’ tactics, kept forcing the Khoena to retreat, both on the northwest direction and in the northeast direction. On the northeast side the Dutch opened up direct trade contact with other groups beyond the Peninsula – namely the Chainouqua and Hessequa in the territories beyond Worcester right through to the Zuurveld territory of the Gonaqua and Gqunukwebe. On the northwestern side they were clearly interested in getting their hands on the huge herds of cattle and sheep of the Cochouqua.

They also sought to trade with the Namaqua unhindered. In the future two new Dutch Districts would emerge in the newly opened territory to the east and west, and was named as Swellendam and Graaff Reinet.  Here Stellenbosch should not be confused with the town of Stellenbosch today as it stretched from today’s town of Stellenbosch to Saldanha Bay.

Ultimately by 1679 the Dutch fully controlled the area from the Cape Peninsula to the Hottentots Holland Mountains and to beyond Saldanha Bay. They rendered the indigenes without land, cattle or tribal infrastructure, thereby forcing them to become either refugees fleeing north-west or pacified farm labourers.  These pacified Khoena (or Khoi) were also made to join VOC militia supporting the Cape garrison of European soldiers.

The war had worn down the Cochoqua, splintered them and driven them far into inhospitable terrain and stripped them of much of their cattle. Their other now pacified Indigene foes had also allied with the Dutch against them. Schoemann[228] notes that the war ended with in peace talks initiated by the Cochouqua through senior members of the families of Oedesoa and Gonnema – namely Nenge, Harru and Nuguma, who concluded agreements with the Dutch and their allies. The war robbed the Cochouqua of 1765 head of cattle and almost 5000 sheep leaving them with less than half this number in their own herds and them having to pay the company tribute in the form of 30 cattle per year. The power of the Cochouqua was broken and land again fell to the Dutch by conquest. The Cape District was expanded and secured by the Dutch and the Stellenbosch District was opened and began to expand too.

Gonnema died in 1685 and Oedasoa in 1689, and the Cochoqua were dispersed. The Colony had thus spread to Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Paarl, Franschhoek, Tygerberg and Wagenmakersvallei (Wellington) with a straight line running across from the Hex River Mountains to the West Coast. The VOC had thus created the new district of Stellenbosch, hugely different from the Stellenbosch we know today.

In all of this time from the days of the war until 1692, the VOC was assisted by the collaboration of a minor Khoena chief by the name of Dhora. By the time he attempted to rebel, he had no friends left and the Dutch the Dutch simply seized his livestock. The divide and rule tactic was used successfully time after time. The Gorachouqua and the Goringhaiqua ceased to exist, except for those who fled to join resisters beyond the two Dutch Districts, many making their way to the Nama and Kai !Gariep communities.


The Ubiqua/Sonqua War arose through the conflict between trek-boers exercising their VOC issued grazing rights or just grazing their cattle and sheep on territory occupied by /Xam hunters and hunter-herders of the Sonqua and Ubiqua. This conflict also began to encroach on the Xhosa-Khoi peoples to the north-East.

By this time, post 1690, the Inqua or Humcumqua, the only Khoena kingdom based far away, in the triangle of Aberdeen, Richmond and Cradock, had ceased to exist as an independent entity. Peires[229] shows us how the Inqua under (King) Khoebaha Hinsati were made up of three clans – the Sukwini, Gqwashu and the Nkarwane clans. Hinsati voluntarily got himself involved in Xhosa affairs by throwing his forces together with King Gwali’s of the Xhosa in a confederal alliance. Then when Mdange and Phalo dethroned Gwali and Hinsati rebelled, his Inqua allies also faced defeat. Phalo was the new Khoebaha or King of the Xhosa and he incorporated the clans of the Inqua into his people.  The name Inqua was discarded and they never featured as a distinct entity in direct conflict with the Dutch. Through this move the Xhosa, about a week’s journey to the coast had extended their reach into the Karoo by 1700.

The Chainoqua and Hessequa, also far away in the area beyond Worcester to the Zuurveld, were beginning to be encroached upon by the Dutch. This war[230] in furthest western and central reaches of the then sprawling Stellenbosch district was a different kind of fight to the previous wars. It saw some refugee Gunjemans (Cochuqua), Guriqua, and Namaqua getting involved but was largely led by the nearby San, who had combined hunting with being client herders of the Namaqua, and who had drifted nearer to the Peninsula from │Xam -ka (Bushmanland) in opposition to European encroachment which saw the consolidation of the Dutch Cape District and new Stellenbosch District which extended from far up the west coast and threateningly inland where the larger numbers of │Xam people lived. The main fighters in this war were known as Ubiqua and Sonqua and they, together with the rebel Khoena refugees from the VOC controlled areas, engaged in a war to counter consolidation of Dutch control in the Cape District and the new Stellenbosch District.


They also countered the expansion of the Cape Colony boundary to the ‘Land van Waveren, Piketberg and through to the Berg River mouth on the West Coast and into the San territory of the Skurweberge and Kouebokkeveld Mountains.


The Ubiqua and the Sonqua was an interface people between Khoena pastoralists and San hunter-gathers but were predominantly the latter. This was a war over habitat, land, livestock and water, and battles saw losses of large herds of livestock as well as lives on both sides.

In 1705 and 1708 peace190 was negotiated largely with the cattle-keeping Khoena elements in the conflict, rather than with the San (│Xam or Sonqua/Ubiqua). The Dutch then established recognised ‘Captains’ among the defeated Khoena (or Khoi) and gave them “staffs of office”, gifts and stipends.

Grazing permits and loan-farms were granted to Trekboers, further encouraging colonisation and conflict. What initially was gradual and casual settler expansion was sanctioned by the VOC as formal expansion through the legal instrument of the Loan Farm System, which enriched the VOC. It is this loan-farm system that provides the legal ammunition to hold both the Dutch and British governments, and the successor companies to the VOC, accountable for the ethnocide and genocide that occurred in the Cape, if any class-action is ever embarked upon.


The great smallpox epidemic[231] occurred in 1713 and its coming was devastating after the huge impact of colonisation, three wars, much  fragmented conflict in the process of forced removals, as well as the decimation of an agricultural livestock economy and the break-up of social organisation.

Thousands died in the epidemic which would later recur on a few occasions in the 18th century[232].   In April 1713  a Danish Ship which had suffered a smallpox outbreak at sea entered Table Bay and gave contaminated clothes to slave women to wash at the washing place which was part of the Camissa water-system and one of the services offered by  the town.

Smallpox first spread to the Slave Lodge, then to all in Table Bay and the Peninsula and then beyond into the greater Cape District and the Stellenbosch District. It reached beyond the Drakenstein and Waveren, and beyond the Berg River to affect even the Namaqua. The meshing of the epidemic with the ethnic cleansing of the Cape and Stellenbosch Districts and the pacification of the small numbers of remaining Khoena is noted here because its impact falls into the same levels of the attrition of war.

However it is important here to note that many historians over-emphasise the impact of the epidemics and wrongly identify smallpox as the main factor in the demise of the Khoena. This is one of those colonial myths that still continue to be spread by those teaching history in schools and universities. Numerous academics have disproved this myth, and this chapter shows how there were 12 more wars right through to the second decade of the 19th century before the final defeat of the Khoena, who at that time were still far from being destroyed.


The Namaqua and Ubiqua War of the Stellenbosch frontier[233] of frontier contestation aimed at halting the expansion of the Frontier and at destabilising the frontier colonial community.  This war saw a qualitative change from warfare primarily conducted by VOC forces sent from the Fort de Goede Hoop, to a situation where war was now primarily being conducted by bands of Trek-Boer farmers in the settled areas together with pacified Khoena, against free Khoena and San. But soon the VOC militia were forced to join in the defence of the settler farmer militias. The new Stellenbosch District frontier war now the frontline and extended over a huge area.


This period thus also saw the militarisation of the frontier with the establishing of a series of VOC military posts established along the border. In a way it was a repetition of van Riebeeck’s old almond hedge frontier at Cape of Good Hope. Distance from Table Bay became a prohibitive issue for warfare supply lines and support. This scenario presented the Indigenes with the kind of guerrilla  warfare or war of the flea,  and it was largely and fairly successfully being waged by the Khoena herders and hunter-herder │Xamgroups known as Ubiqua, who had begun to also herd livestock. This saw the centrality of the issues of the erosion of water access, as well as land and livestock rights. After many raids and battles and counter raids and battles, in March 1716, peace was agreed and again “staffs of office” were given to approved Captains by the VOC. Again, the Khoena element agreed to peace under coercion and were drawn into pacification processes while the Ubiqua and │Xam avoided treaties. The treaties under coercion were not worth the paper they were written on. The Khoena were always given Hobson’s choice.


Namaqua-Gonaqua Livestock War on Two Fronts saw the Namaqua[234] and Gonaqua[235] guerrilla warfare for livestock defence occurred from 1716 to 1719.There was a combination of bad weather conditions and livestock sickness that resulted in both meat and grain shortages and settlers were under severe pressure. The result was that the Europeans again coveted the livestock of the Khoena beyond the North western and the Eastern frontiers.

These wars resulted in large scale cattle raiding against the Namaqua in the west and the Gonaqua in the east and then counter attacks of resistance. In the case of the Gonaqua it resulted in their suffering massacres and the complete seizure of the tribe’s livestock herds at the hands of the Jacob van Heijden barter gang, who were nothing but thieves and murderers contracted by the VOC. The impact of these attacks resulted in the Gonaqua drawing closer to the Xhosa.

From  as early as 1702 murderous gangs of self-styled settler militia run by cattle barons like Henning Huising, backed by his friend Adam Tas and a small elite antagonistic to the van der Stels, rode out to strip the Chainouqua, Hessequa, Attaqua, Goriqu and Gonaqua of their cattle, and leave death and carnage in their path.

The Eastern push opened up two new Districts – those of Swellendam and Graaff Reinet. It was here that the most numerous concentrations of Indigenes lived with very large herds of cattle and sheep. One step at a time under the thin guise of bartering and trading, largescale theft, plunder and murder took place on a scale that even embarrassed the Governor and VOC. Inthe earliers years the Governor had issued orders that forbade the settlers to go out and directly barter for indigenes livestock and to desist from thieving from the Indigenes. These cattlemen defied these instructions and they did as they pleased.

On the Western Frontier the Griguriqua, the inland Namaqua  with the now tiny remnants of surviving Cochoqua, Goringhaiqua and Gorachouqua refugees among them, came under the same assault as those on the Eastern frontier. Between East and West the │Xam (Cape San) were still a formidable fighting force that held their positions. Until 1726 the pattern of conquest and pacification continued and the VOC Chamber of 17 were informed that for 250 kilometres in all directions from Table Bay there were no free Khoena or settlements except for a hut or two here and there.

Expansion increased after the war to include the entire length of the Olifants River by the mid-1730s. Between 1716 and 1730 the Sandveld, which had a history of at least 500 years of habitat and tense co-existence between Cape Khoena pastoralists and client Cape San hunter-herders, experienced rapid incursion by European raiders and settlers and bitter fighting ensued in a scenario of severe drought and hardship. The defence of waterholes and raids onwaterholes were a major part of the conflict. Both the │Xam  and Cape Khoena resisted European incursion inch by inch.


The War of Three-Frontiers was one of forced removals, pacification and stabilisation of the long three new frontiers from east to west. This was a paradigm-shift war that changed the nature of conflict between colonists and indigenes. It marked the first steps towards the consolidation of the emergent family of colonial districts of the Cape Colony – the original Cape District and three new frontier districts: Stellenbosch, Swellendam and Graaff Reinet District.

These at this stage still constituted three distinct frontiers – the western (Cape District and Stellenbosch), eastern (Graaff Reinet) and central (Swellendam). Only by the last decade of the 18th century would the VOC authorities manage to tenuously turn the different frontiers into one defendable frontier.   However, this first step was a most important turning point in the development of a viable European colony in Africa. Ultimately it was only under the British and requiring thousands of soldiers that the enlarged colony’s frontier could be more feasibly managed, but even then resisters fiercely resisted colonisation.

The huge distance between the frontier and the colonial authority in Cape Town weakened the power of the Dutch VOC and strengthened self-rule among colonists. Farmers were much more of a law unto themselves in these remote areas, which led to many atrocities. The Commandos were now made up partially of pacified Khoena conscripts to complement settlers and it had become the ‘new normal’ to commit atrocities.

This was the war during which the Commando system was developed and the control of advances and defence shifted away from the Table Bay-based VOC, to local District Government (under Landrosts) and commando leaders and indeed to regional collectives of frontier farmers. The role-players in conflict and war expanded to include new rebel groups that emerged from pacified Khoena. The big role-players in this context were the ‘Oorlam Afikaners’ and ‘Bergenaar Baster’ groups as well as escaped slave formations. The progenitor of the Oorlam Afrikaners was Oude Ram Afrikaner and his two sons Afrikaner Afrikaner and Klaas Afrikaners are examples of the early pacified Khoena who had some slave heritage too and revolted against mistreatment on white farmers. Afrikaner Afrikaner and Klaas Afrikaner served prison sentences on Robben Island. The death of his brother on Robben Island had hardened Klaas who together with his son Jager moved north westeterley with a following after they rebelled against a notorious farmer Pienaar after discovering that the farmer was molesting their women while they were working away from the farm. They thus became outlaws and as adept horsemen and shottists they soon developed a fiersome reputation. Under what had been an almost constant life of war and under Jager Afrikaner and his brother Jonker Afrikaner, the Oorlam Afrikaner clan became the raiders of the Gariep frontier striking fear into the hearts of colonists and Khoi droster (maroon) groups of refugees forming new communities around the Kai Gariep. (Orange River)

The war had reached the Great Namaqua and its impact began to be felt as far away as the broader Kai !Gariep region. All along the border there were acts of resistance and unrest and destabilisation of settlements and farms. Resistance popped up everywhere, led by the Khoena and the │Xam, and in the midst of all of this, class warfare broke out between big moneyed land and livestock barons on the one hand and rebel settlers led in rebellion by a man named Estienne Barbier against the VOC establishment. Barbier was eventually captured and publicly crucified in Cape Town. It was a period of bitter fighting, which had now opened against the │Xam as well as the Khoena.

The Bokkeveld, Pieketberg, Sandveld, Olifants River and de Doorns River territories were effectively conquered by the Europeans, thus pushing back the frontier in favour of further European settlement and providing stability for settlers. The way also opened up for new settlement in the Bokkeveld, Hantam and Roggeveld. The Khoena in all of these areas were put to flight or forced to become labourers on white-owned loan farms, under terrible conditions alongside the slaves. Again after coerced peace treaties, leaders sanctioned by the Commandos, District Government and rubberstamped by the VOC, were issued with the title “Kaptein” and given a “Staff of Office” as a symbol of colonially approved authority. The Commando and Landrost system effectively became the new colonial authority.

Without understanding this systematic formula for dispossession of land, livestock and sustainable livlihoods along with destruction of community culture and social cohension, one cannot understand de-Africanisation and de-tribalisaton and the crushing of resistance that was the cornerstone of achieving the European Cape colony.


Many incidents continued to occur but by and large the period of outright war seemed to have concluded and the border territories went quiet, to a degree. But in fact during this period, settlement and expansion actually increased dramatically. The trajectory of colonisation for the rest of South Africa was set during this period.

THE TRAJECTORY UP TO THIS POINT. Pioneering grazing excursion had been followed using grazing licences granted by the VOC. These grazing licenced trek-farmers, who were ever new  European migrants,who simply seized land from Indigenes and in impoverishing them, then took them on as labourers and staked a farm which had to be registered with the VOC as a ‘Leningplaats’ (Loan Farm). They had to pay a mothly fee for the Loan Farm plus each year they would have to pay a tax of one tenth of their annual income from the farm. Out on the frontier these farmers did as they pleased to Indigenes and this generally started off by expropriation of the indigenes livestock. When Indigenes retaliated or settled previous scores conflict would begin and as a result militarisation and war ensued, followed by a forced treaty and then quickly followed by the mass settlement of new immigrants.  The vicious cycle starting with new grazing licences would then start again. Water was also always in short supply. The natural precolonial habit or tradition of Africans was to set up home around waterholes and rivers and thus the Europeans first focus for removing Indigenes was to seize the water supply. This was the same pattern that Jan van Riebeeck had followed in seizing the Camissa River from Autshumao at Table Bay.

On the Western frontier the settlement of migrants was not easily implemented, because of the harsh terrain and indigene resistance, but on the Eastern Frontier it became the mainstay of the conquest of that part of South Africa.

By 1770 expansion to the north via the West Coast or the Central Cape was a very unattractive option. The lack of water and the hostile environment and fiercely independent resisting indigenes put a block on European advancement.

So the focus for expansion was the │Xam (Cape San) territories of Bushmanland (│Xam-ka) and the Eastern Cape territories. The largest concentrations of free Khoena were to be found in the Graaff Reinet District and the Zuurveld.  These areas were also where the strongest social cohesion among indigenes with strong tribal formations existed.  This included the Hessequa and the Gonaqua who together with the Gamtoos, Guriqua, and Hoengeyqua were in a confederal relationship with the mixed Xhosa-Gonaqua formation known as the Gqunukhwebe. There were excellent relations between them and they were numerically large and wealthy in cattle and crops.  In time the Khoena groups in the confederation would completely move into one formation under the Gqunukhwebe (which has the same meaning as Gonaqua).

By 1770 the Settlers had however subdued the Chainouqua in addition to the Peninsula tribes and the Cochoqua and by now also a large part of the Hessequa.  The Chainouqua rebels, many of whom were traditionally married into the Xhosa, fled to join up with the Xhosa instead of becoming pacified. Through ruthless ethnocide these tribal formations were decimated and those who did not flee northwards or eastwards were apprenticed to farms or conscripted into the commandos.

The central regions of the western Cape through to the Gariep was thirst-land territory where water was as precious as gold or diamonds and in the path of the settlers were the fiercely resistant  │Xam  ( or Cape San) who were highly adaptable to the inhospitable territory. The sources of water on the periphery, however, were highly treasured by the │Xam and the Khoena and greatly coveted by the settler farmers.  It was inevitable that with the insatiable hunger for more and more land, water and livestock by the ever increasing settlers the time of peace would soon end.

In 1770 the Cape Colony population had reached 7,736 Europeans  and locally born settlers and 8,220 slaves (plus approximately 500 VOC company slaves) and 352 Free Blacks.[236]

 (7) SEVENTH DUTCH-INDIGENE WAR OF RESISTANCE & CONQUEST  (1770 – 1772)                            

The War of  Rebellions of the Roggeveld and Hantam broke out in 1770  in areas wherethere was a significant Khoena population (Griguriqua) that had maintained their freedom and they lived in relatively peaceful coexistence with the │Xam (or San) because both were subsistence hunters and herders as client herders for the Nama. The main numbers of the │Xam were across the Sak River. The small groups of Griguriqua were a southernmost set of client clans subordinate to the Nama and were wandering keepers of herds of sheep.

With the Seventh Dutch-Indigene War the fragile peace that had lasted for almost thirty years was shattered, with the fight increasingly  involving warfare between the Commandos and the │Xam .[237]

The Trekboer incursions into the environmentally difficult territory of the Griguriqua pastoralists, which could not sustain new people, and into the │Xam territory which had thus far resisted a Colonial presence for over a century, caused great upheaval and destruction. The rebellions were intense conflicts and up-scaled the nature of the warfare even though this was pretty much focussed in the Roggeveld and Hantam.

Retribution from settlers and their early laissez-faire commandos was swift and brutal, with public crucifixions and displays of dismembered bodies left in the sun to rot as deterrents. Many indigenes were also sent as prisoners to Robben Island. The rebellions heralded a new period of military crisis for the Dutch.

This conflict followed much the same pattern as the one between Native Americans and the migrant settlers who poured into the so-called Wild West.


The First Commando War against the │Xam Over the next 25 years the nature of warfare was different to that of the earlier years in that during the 15-year period 1774 – 1789 the focus of the conflict was the Dutch mission to destroy and cleanse Bushmanland and the mountainous territory through to the Eastern Cape of│Xam people whom they regarded as non-human vermin that had to be exterminated.

The │Xam had shown that they had no interest in accommodating neither the Europeans nor their farming way of life and the would fight to the death rather than be forced into worthless peace treaties.This in part happened through direct intervention by government orders and also through a culture that sprang up under the new general commando system and among the settlers. Culpability for the genocide must however be squarely placed on the shoulders of the Dutch VOC government, which directly benefitted from the rent andtax paid by every settler famer in the approved loan farm scheme. Hundreds of “loan-farms” were approved in territories before, during and after wars of conquest.[238]

The VOC also effectively incentivised the seizure of land through issuing grazing licences for the land of Indigenes without agreement or compensation for the Indigenes. The pattern was long established that a grazing licence ultimately translated into a loan farm and ejection of the Indigene original occupants. In plain language the Europeans were land and livestock thieves and mass murderers. This is what truly was the foundation of white South Africa. Europeans had a crass attitude and behaviour of entitlement and simply stole wahat they wanted, when they wanted and if needs be killed any opponent in their way. That is the horrible truth. Nothing illustrates this as clearly as the massacres of the │Xam people.

Faced with environmentally inhospitable land beyond the northern frontier of the Central Cape, the Trekboers were enchanted by the lush grass of the Camdeboo district where it also seemed that there were no Khoena nor Xhosa resisters to oppose their occupation. They got a rude awakening when they came up against the fiercest resistance that colonists had ever experienced in their over one-century occupation of the Cape because this was the heartland of the Cape San or│Xam.

Archaeologists[239] show us that the original habitat and hunting grounds of the│Xam ‘First People’ were the coastal regions of the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. The ‘First People’ │Xam were squeezed out of their traditional lands to the central Cape between 650 AD and 1100 AD, by the Khoena herders and early migrations of ║Kosa agro-pastoralists. The Khoena had migrated from the northern Botswana and southern Zimbabwe arena, all over South Africa and through to the Cape. They were of mixed Tshua (San), East African herder lineage of Nilotic origins, and they had some sub-Saharan African admixture too. The early ║Kosa of 650 CE (later known as the Xhosa after the Nguni migratory drift joined them from the 14th century) were farmers and metalworkers who had entered the Eastern Cape arena alongside the Khoena. The │Xam thus moved from the coastal areas further inland to drier mountainous central Cape. By the time of the incursions of the European farmers the │Xam had no other options but to fight.

Thus the bloodiest war ever to be fought on South African territory between indigenes and Europeans took place.[240] The Europeans, to counter the fierce resistance, turned to genocide and scorched-earth policies and practices. The objective was to exterminate the │Xam or Cape San people. Around 30 000 Cape San were reduced to around 1000 over a 25-year period.

The General Commando system[241] under a military supremo known as a Veld Kommandant, the first of whom was Rudolf Opperman, established a formal militia system and conscripted pacified Khoena en masse into the Commandos alongside white soldiers. Veld Kommandant Van der Walt and Veld Kommandant Van Jaarsveld were the other leading role-players.

The modus operandi for the genocide practiced had two legs:- (a) all adult San had to be killed, male and female, in combat or not; and (b) teenaged girls could be seized by Khoena commandos to be concubines or brides, and children could be captured to be made farm apprentices and integrated into the slave and ‘Baster-Hottentot’ labour force.

But the numbers of captives were minimal, with children also being slaughtered. To gain a more accurate perspective, which shows that part (a) was the dominant approach, one should note that only 258 child captives were formally registered over the first seven years of the ensuing wars, during the most intense massacres.   This meant that even the children were mostly slaughtered.

Typical raids during this ‘Curtain Raiser’ of the genocide campaigns resulted in reported figures of 122 killed, 61 killed, 111 killed, 265 killed, 500 killed, and so on in systematic massacres. The wounded were routinely shot in coup de grace style – men, women and children.[242] There are records of conversations where Europeans boasted of their kill rates – one noting that he had personally killed 300 Cape San. One favoured activity was to cut off the older women’s breasts and to cure the skins to make tobacco pouches. It was a barbaric militia.[243]

The Curtain Raiser War was just the beginning, and quickly the Dutch realised that this conflict with the │Xam or Cape San was not going to be a push-over. Settlers started becoming refugees and the Commandos were just not coping. The previous approach of forcing treaties on indigenes was a non-starter.

Frenchman Louis de Grandpré[244] visited the Cape in the later period between 1786 and 1787 and described the genocide of the /Xam or Cape San people:

“… they have hunted the Boschis as one would hunt hares; their dogs have been trained for it. Hunting packs of dogs, horses, slaves, children, women, men; all are put to this dreadful purpose … “


The Second Genocide Offensive (Seekoei Massacre and Koerikei’s Triump) was a continuation of Veld-Kommandant Opperman’s offensive but it was also one war where the │Xam or Cape San were the victors and put the settlers and Commandos on the retreat.

Penn[245] shows how it started in August 1775 when Adriaan van Jaarsveld’s Commando set up a sting operation. They killed a Hippo and left it on the Seekoei River bank so that they would lure the Cape San to come and feast and then they feigned a retreat. When over 150 /Xam had gathered for a feast that night, the Commandos attacked and massacred them in what became known as the Seekoei Massacre.[246]  This outrage spurred the /Xam on to launch their own offensive, moving in on farms, raiding large numbers of livestock and killing anybody who got in their way.

The nature of the war changed dramatically and casualties mounted. Opperman was out-matched, short on munitions and short on manpower, and the rear forces of the settlers and VOC were slow in response. By the time that there was a response, Van Jaarsveld’s Commando had abandoned the fight and retreated. The Sneeuberg and Camdeboo settler communities were left exposed, but a new defence team was cobbled together using different tactics and the war was lulled to a stalemate by 1777. Effectively it was a victory for the Cape San.  

 1781 KHOENA CONSCRIPTION: The idea of a regiment of pacified Khoena first arose during the early days of the commandos but the first such regiment of 400 pacified Khoena was formed in 1781 and known as the Corps Bastaard Hottentoten. It was based in Cape Town to be used at the behest of the VOC authorities.[247]

After the 1790s missionary stations, particularly that of the Moravians, played a major role in the pacification of the so-called ‘Bastard-Hottentots’. An example is the one established at Genadendal, which actively facilitated the recruitment of Khoena soldiers who were used to carry out genocide attacks on the San, and later in the wars against the Xhosa. The roots of the collaborator tradition that divided opinion among those who would later be classified as ‘Coloured’ were firmly established at this time and carried on right through to Apartheid. There were other rebel missions who preached a liberation gospel and sheltered slaves and conscript-dodgers, but these were very few.

The Corps Bastaard Hottentoten was disbanded a year later. By 1793 it was again established, this time known as the Corps van Pandoeren, with 200 men including some freed slaves. Once again it was disbanded and then reformed in 1796 with 300 men. These were then incorporated into the Cape Regiment formed by the British in 1801.

When the Batavian government took over from the British for a few brief years the Khoena regiment again went through a change and was called the Corps Vrye Hottentoten in 1803. Later its name changed again to the Hottentot Light Infantry. Once the British returned to take over the Cape permanently they formed the Cape Regiment, which included a cavalry element, in 1806.[248]

By 1817 there were two Khoena units – the Cape Cavalry and the Cape Light Infantry. In 1820 these were merged named the Cape Corps battalion of mounted infantry. After rebel Khoena soldiers participated in the Kat Rebellion in the early 1850s the battalion became a mixed white and ‘Baster’ Corps and by 1870 it was decided to exclude ‘Baster-Hottentots’ from military service.

In 1878 the all-white Cape Mounted Rifles was established. Only in 1915 during the First World War were those now called ‘Coloured’ once more recruited into a reconstituted Cape Corps.The Cape Corps was disbanded, but resuscitated again in 1940 and disbanded in 1945. [249]

The ‘Coloured’ Service Corps started up in 1947 and was closed down in 1950. In 1963 in an attempt to drive a wedge between those the National Party called Bantu and those now classified ‘Coloured’, the Cape Corps became a full part of the SADF. Ten years later it was renamed the South African Cape Corps Service Battalion, and then again renamed the South African Cape Corps Battalion.

Over the years, other than in the World Wars, these military units played a divisive political role in the community labelled ‘Coloured’ and became a vehicle for Apartheid anti-black propaganda, which was spread within communities classified as ‘Coloured’.To assert and deepen control they were used actively in the SADF wars and terror campaigns across Southern Africa. It is a shameful part of history that must be faced honestly.

In the early 1820s opposition to conscription became a grievance among the rebel Khoena on the eastern frontier. In this period too these military units were used to effect great devastation by the colonial authorities against the Khoena-San alliance and against the Khoena-Xhosa resistance Confederacy.[250]


The Ten Year │Xam War for Survival  started in theyear 1778  was the year that the VOC Governor at the Cape realised that two centres of power had resulted from these long drawn out frontier wars. The Table Bay based official government was the dog being wagged by the tail.

The ‘tail’ comprised the frontiersmen and commandos that had developed their own way of doing things, despite the VOC at Table Bay.

So Van Plettenberg embarked on a personal tour of the frontier and for the first time the frontier was mapped, formalised in terms of itsborders, and  committed to paper. A consolidated Cape Colony was established with four formal districts that were to be defended by a formal military system answerable to the Governor of the Cape – Van Plettenberg.

The single frontier was finally to be established and it marked  the beginning of the eastern pushback of Africans  that would culminate in the Keiskamma becoming the 1847 border of the Cape Colony and the Kai !Gariep (orange) River being part of the same border in the North and West.

Van Plettenberg’s decreeing of a border of a European colony meant nothing to each of the indigene formations where land violation was taking place – the Namaqua, the │Xam, the Gonaqua and the Xhosa Gqunukhewbe.

The troublesome and uncontrolled Northern and Eastern frontiers remained in crisis after Van Plettenberg’s visit and demarcation exercise confirmed the conquest of the indigene peoples. Over the next ten years, encouraged by Van Plettenberg and his promise to flood the frontier districts with new migrant settlers, land grabs, theft of livestock and plunder were conducted with a new vigour by the colonists. The Cape San or │Xam met the onslaught with vigour and determination even though the official death count for San was over 500 for 1778. The north eastern mountains would continue to be a bloodbath for ten years and genocidal attacks took place on a grand scale.

From 1785 and over the next decade Commandos again and again launched campaigns. Conservatively researcher Leftwich[251] puts the San war dead at 2500 San killed and 669 (children/young women) taken prisoner to become farm labourers during this decade. The figure may well have been more like 14 000 given the frequency and extent of the killing sprees. The conflict playing out with the San was occurring at the same time that colonial forces were fighting the second war against Xhosa resistance in the Zuurveld.

At the time of Van Riebeeck the suggested figure for the Cape San across all areas was 15000 – 30 000.[252] My estimate is that at the time of the advent of the 1770s genocide around 10 000 – 12 000 were located in the mountainous regions and in Bushmanland (│Xam-ka). Figures, including anectdotal accounts, from the onset of the genocide practice in both war and peace times up until the late 1790s, suggest it is likely that this figure of San was reduced to under 1000 and by the mid-19th century. The  fate of the │Xam was sealed as new genocidal sprees ensued, involving not just the British and the Boers, but also the Nama, Korana, Griqua, Oorlam Afrikaners and other Cape Khoena as the aggressors against the │Xam.

The Aborigine Protection Society report[253] to the British Parliament records testimony such as this:

“I have heard one man, who is represented as an estimable character in other respects, declare, that within a period of six years, parties under his orders had either killed or taken 3,200 of these unfortunate creatures ; another has stated to me, that the actions in which he had been engaged had caused the destruction of 2,700. They had acted thus in compliance with the instructions of a government which not only violated all the principles of Justice and humanity by this indiscriminate massacre, but even acted in direct opposition to the plainest rules of policy and of common sense, by depriving the colony of the benefit which might have been derived from so useful a people.” 

Other records with specific figures and anecdotal accounts of 2500 here and 500 there and 3000 on another occasion all suggest very high figures for those killed and large figures for child captives spirited away.

Mohamed Adhikari critiques Szalay’s low, contradictory  figures for San massacred and estimates in his book on the genocide against the Cape San or │Xam that  those killed during the General Commando alone is probably 8 000 to 10 000.[254] It is more plausible that the upper end of his estimate is more like the real figure. The fact is that after the year 1800 there were not 15 000 – 30 000 Cape San in the Colony anymore, nor the approximately 10 000 – 12 000 thought to be in the North eastern mountain strongholds. After the genocidal drive of the last two decades of the 18th century in Bushmanland (│Xam-ka) there could not have been more than a thousand, if even that, and later by the end of the 1800s there were just a few hundred. A century later, there were literally no │Xam (Cape San) left. That is what a fundamental interpretation of genocide is! It is the extermination of a people!

Today the figure for San in South Africa is given by Adhikari as about 7 500 who identify as San and he says that of these around 6 000 are recent immigrant San from Namibia and Southern Angola, made refugees by association with the SADF during the occupation of those countries. Of this segment 1 000 are ǂKhomani San.[255]

Pressure also mounted on this area as the large populations of Khoena from the Breede River right through to the Fish River started to flee northwards to find refuge after European Settlers ravished their livestock, appropriated their land, and forced them into conscription and farm labour alongside slaves where they meted out great cruelty. This was monitored by Dr Johannes van der Kemp, the radical missionary and passionate abolitionist, who succeeded in getting the Circuit Court to travel to farms to hear the testimony of complainants.[256]

The Chainouqua had been decimated in the same manner as the Khoena on the Peninsula, as had the Hessequa. The Inqua had broken up long prior to the European incursions largely due to their siding with the loser in a fratricidal leadership conflict among the Xhosa House of Phalo.[257] The Attaqua had also been put to flight and the Gamtoos, Guriqua, the Hoengeyqua and the Gonaqua were also massacred and moved into union with the Xhosa resisters, organised as a confederation.

Many of the Khoena were thus put to flight and large waves of European settlers moved into their habitat, supported by Boer militia and later masses of British troops. The majority of the Khoena  remained behind the colonial frontiers. They became pacified and were integrated with slaves on farms. Others became conscripts in the Boer Commandos and then a regiment within the British armed forces. The most diehard of the rebel Khoena joined forces with the Xhosa and the mixed Xhosa-Gonaqua known as the Gqunukhwebe in the Zuurveld, which became the new holding-ground and battleground.

Those Khoena and Oorlams that passed through Cape San territory often antagonised, preyed upon and attacked the │Xam (or Cape San) as much as the Europeans did. Very few joined in brief episodes of common cause with the │Xam in their fight against the Colonists but most trekked on to regroup and integrate into the Kai !Gariep communities.

There the various Khoena-rooted peoples in revived Khoena formations viciously attacked the various Kai !Gariep Eis or San tribes, as well as hunting them down as though they were wildlife. Adhikari notes the intensity and brutality of these attacks and implicates the free Griqua, so-called ‘Basters’ or Oorlam, Korana, Namaqua and other pastoralist Khoena in such genocidal attacks[258]. In my opinion it is this legacy that makes it unfortunate and a continued act of genocide for descendants of the various Khoena groups to misappropriate the term San or │Xam.

By 1787 pass laws and controls had been introduced to control all Khoena still in the Cape Colony and taxation was applied to all categorised as ‘Bastard-Hottentots’ namely Khoena who were the offspring of Slaves, Free Blacks and Khoena. This went hand in glove with a missionary presence of campaign proportions from around 1792.

Only three decades earlier there had been huge official hostility by the Cape authorities to any missionary effort towards the indigenes. Suddenly conversion to Christianity was seen as a first and most important step in the pacification process. Only here and there the odd missionary retained an independent stance and demonstrated true sympathetic solidarity with indigenes against colonial manipulation. Most missionaries aligned their gospel with European political and economic goals branded as the civilising mission.[259]2

Penn[260] gives us the background to the new control system that was established and called the ‘ingeboekte stelsel’ and that controlled the process of assimilation of Khoena and captured San into the pacified indigene population. Because Khoena women were falling pregnant by slave men and then effectively the children of those slaves were born free, the colonist farmers wanted a guarantee of a 25-year apprenticeship of these children in return for board and lodging on the farm, and strict monitoring, including registration for military service. ‘So-called ‘BasterHottentots’ were also compelled to do military service in the Commandos and they participated in some of the worst of the genocide crimes against the│Xam or Cape San.  The farmers were also complaining of slaves and Khoena covering for each other and of slaves passing themselves off as Khoena. The system was then also linked to a pass law system for Khoena in 1787. All African war-captives were also subjected to the new apprenticeship system. Those of the so-called ‘Bastard Hottentots’ not in service had to be placed on the opgaaf rollen and had to pay an annual tax. Refusal to do military service would result in arrest, being taken to Stellenbosch and subjected to forced service.

Much indoctrination went along with the coercion, increasingly with the assistance of missionaries. Soon the pacified Khoena developed the same racist and antagonistic attitudes and practices towards the │Xam (or Cape San) and towards the Xhosa and rebel Khoena as were found in European society. These are the collaborationist roots of some of those who for their own convenience identify themselves as revivalists today but who mouth racist antagonism towards those they call ‘Blacks’.  Neither do they recognise that both Khoena and San lineages exist in all South Africa’s tribal formations today, arguing that only ‘Coloured’ people are the true Khoena and San.

Thus two traditions began within the society that later became labelled ‘Coloured’ – a racist tradition antagonistic towards people regarded as ‘Black’ and ‘Bushie’, and on the other side a ‘liberationist’ tradition which saw cooperation between Khoena, │Xam and Xhosa as natural and necessary, because they were engaged together as a family of people of colour in a common anti-colonial cause bonded by blood ties and ancestral ties and the experience of common resistance. It was these ten years that would cast the die for intergroup relations and politics for the next two centuries.

The tenth war saw the remnants of the Khoena in the Cape Colony and their social formations and tribes totally dismantled, thereby completing the ethnocide and ethnic clearing of the original Cape Khoena tribes. As a result of what happened starting in 1787, by the third decade of the 19th century no Khoena tribes existed as formations in the Cape Colony anymore. This ethnocide was a clear-cut crime against humanity.

Culture, dress, language, habitat, leadership structures, the independent practice of indigenous faith, an independent economy and sustainability were all decimated. Remnant Khoena were all that was left and they were forced to mix and be acculturated with slaves and other migrants of colour, who in turn were forced to be culturally assimilated in the European overlay of the masters. Effectively the Khoena were enslaved. In the 1790s when missionaries appeared on the scene to acculturate pacified Khoena, the new dominant European Christian overlay hammered out the Indigene traditions and only a faint element remained alive for a short term.

During this ten-year period of war the bulk of the combat was between the San and the Europeans, with some sporadic resistance breaking out among the Khoena, such as the Riviersonderend millenarian movement of Jan Parel[261] (Onze Liewe Heer) which inspired revolt over a very wide area and even spread as far as the Roggeveld. There were also mini revolts involving cooperation between slaves and Khoena. On the Western frontier and up to the Kai !Gariep the state of rebelliousness passed from the Khoena to the revivalist and droster groups – the various  Oorlam groups such as the Afrikaners, the Basters, the Springboks, the Witboois and the still emergent Griquas. Retreating Khoena and mixed Khoena groups were excellent horsemen and marksmen, hence the term Oorlam.[262] The term Oorlam refers to those who were wisened to the ways of the colonists and outdid them in horsemenship and shooting.During this ten-year war even the │Xam had acquired guns and were often better at using guns than many of their opponents. But by 1790 the │Xam resistance had been overcome and to a large extent the genocidal onslaught had decimated the resistance. They were reduced in number to probably less than 1000 and pushed to the more arid regions of the area mapped as Bushmanland.


The 1st Zuurveld Conflict was the beginning of nine wars that started in 1779 and lasted for 100 years until 1879 are known variously as the Xhosa Resistance Wars or the Eastern Cape Frontier Wars. This inaccurately includes at least the first five of these Wars, which were as much part of the Khoena Resistance as the Xhosa Resistance. It is also important to note this because of the historical mischief of dividing the Xhosa from their place in Khoena and San history using a crude division into Bantu/Nguni vs Khoena and San.  By this time the Gqunukhweb Xhosa were in fact majority made up of former Khoena (or Khoi) people such as the Gonaqua, Hoengeyqua, Gamtoos and Damasqua.

Historically the Xhosa are a mixed ancestry people who developed in the Eastern Cape during the period from 650 CE, long prior to the slow migratory drift of southern Africans with ancient roots among sub-Sahran Africans (interchangeably referred to asBantu orNguni by some). The Xhosa are a mix of Khoena and ║Kosa early migrants who arrived in the Eastern Cape around 650 CE (see Chapter 1). They were later more heavily influenced by the Nguni migrational drift into the region in around 1300 – 1400 CE. The language and culture of the earlymigrants of sub-Saharan ancestry, and the name that they were given by the Khoena and San, XHOSA, is clearly a sign of the strong early influence of the Khoena and San on the sub-Saharan descendant farmers. The later movement into their territory of the Mpondo, Mpondomise, Bhaca, Hlubi, Bomvana from the north of the Kei and of the Thembu from the Western Kalanga impacted on their earlier identity which then took on new Nguni features. The Xhosa are in fact a confederation of many locally developed tributaries and not an invader alien people as often suggested by those intent on pushing the notion of an empty land invaded by northern aliens in an invasion from the Great Lakes district.

At the time of the first attempts to colonise territory jointly occupied by Khoena and southern Xhosa groups, who were integrated through intermarriage and clan ties, the resistance was jointly handled by Khoena and Xhosa forces. In the first five wars of the Eastern Cape the Khoena played a valiant role alongside Xhosa warriors. Leaders such as Makhana were in fact born of Xhosa fathers and Khoena mothers and, in his case, he was married to Khoena leader Hans Trompetter’s sister.[263]The course of this war[264] was set when the Dutch-Boer commando under van Jaarsveld, moving on from their defeat by the │Xam in the Sneeuberg, Swarteberg and Nieuweveld, moved into the territory occupied by very mixed Khoena and Xhosa communities in the Zuurveld district. It was was occupied by the Gonaqua, Gqunukhwebe, Ntinde, Gwali, Dinge and the Mbala, and by the Rharabe Xhosa, which by this time was the dominant grouping. Later the son of Rharabe, Ndlambe, would become regent to the young Ngqika, who later rebelled against him and collaborated with the British Colonial authorities in return for having his position bolstered.

Trek-boer farmers had moved into the area and van Jaarsveld’s commando attempted to assist them to establish hegemony by expelling all traditional African communities from the area and appropriating their cattle.

In 1779 the Trekboers were fleeing the area along the Bushman’s River as the Xhosa and Khoena took action to halt their forward movement, settlement and cattle theft. This resulted in the first armed clashes between Trekboers and indigenes.

Adriaan van Jaarsveld and his commando arrived in October 1780 and from this point the low-level war became intense. By July 1781 van Jaarsveld claimed to be victorious and said that all indigene African forces had been driven out of the Zuurveld territory. The war in reality ended with a stalemate situation. As history has shown, the Zuurveld was only cleared by the British under Graham using scorched earth and genocide tactics in 1811. Actually van Jaarsveld’s exaggerated claims were an attempt to save face after his earlier defeat by the San. The proof of the pudding was in the eating, in that it would take a few more wars over three decades before Van Jaarsveld’s fanciful claims were realised.


The 2nd Zuurveld Conflict saw continuous raids took place on the herds of Xhosa and Khoena by the Trekboers and on the Trekboers by the Xhosa and Khoena. The Zuurveld was contested terrain where those that had been temporarily expelled quickly returned to challenge the European farmers. What ensued was a scenario of some Trekboers making alliances with the dominant Indigene group against other groups who were also making their way back home after the last war.

Barend Lindeque, a Trekboer, and rebel frontier settler Coenraad de Buys (who had a Khoena wife) joined Ndlambe, the regent of the dominant Rharabe Xhosa, established within the Zuurveld, who incorporated the Gqunukhwebe which was a confederation of Xhosa, Gonaqua and other Khoena who had relocated back into the Zuurveld after having been expelled by Van Jaarsveld’s commandos.

The Trekboer frontier farmers who had returned to the Zuurveld in the face of the Indigenes returning once again fled. Thus once again two government commandos from Graaff Reinet and Swellendam  tried to clear the Zuurveld of Xhosa and Khoena African communities.[265] The attacks of these Dutch forces penetrated as far as the Buffalo River causing havoc in Xhosa and Khoena communities and stealing their cattle.

This continued until 1793 when a peace treaty was signed, with the Dutch forces conceding that the Xhosa could not be forced out of the Zuurveld. As a result, settlers began revolting against VOC officialdom in 1795. Parallel to these events a civil war broke out within the Xhosa between Ndlambe the regent and his nephew Ngqaika.

1795 POPULATION STATISTICS: By 1795 the total Khoena population in the entire mapped and boundary thatdefined the Cape Colony  was  estimated at 15 000.These Khoena who were fairly integrated with slaves were now known as ‘Baster-Hottentots’ with the vast majority in the Swellendam / Graaff Reinet / Zuurveld arena. Giliomee and Mbenga put the total European population at 20 000; Burghers’ slaves at 25 754, and Free Blacks at 1 700.[266]They further mention 1000 war captives in Swellendam.

However, there was probably also an equal number of Khoena who were located outside of the Cape Colony in Namaqualand and the Kai !Gariep district and in the shared territory of Xhosa and Khoena just outside of the Zuurveld and beyond. A better idea of the numbers of surviving Khoena within the entire Cape Colony would only be obtained in 1865 when a proper scientific census was done, just before the term ‘Coloured’ began to be used. In 1836, according to the Aborigine Protection Society in London[267], the figure for Cape Khoena  was 33 000 and included the Kai !Gariep River territories, but more than half of these people were of mixed slave and Khoena ancestry.

From the 1770s the slaves being imported were less and less often from India and Southeast Asia, and mostly from East Africa. Masbieker slaves coming from the slaver station in Mozambique came from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar and as far as Congo. These slaves had assimilated with pacified Khoena over a wide area to such a degree that Khoena and apprenticed San could no longer be seen as being very different from slaves. The colonists called them ‘Baster-Hottentots’ or just ‘Basters’.

1798 – 1799 THE NAMAQUALAND REBELLIONS: These rebellions were more like eruptions of conflict involving at times fights between three or four adversary groups at a time. Then a coalition of Namaqua, Oorlams and others against the Boers developed as the influences of the eastern frontier resulted in indigene refugees trickling into the western region. [268]Tensions had been building up in Namaqualand as a result of the crossing of paths between various groups, each  intending to improve their fortunes one way or another. Much of this intention was carried out at the expense of the Namaqua.

The Namaqua and remnant │Xam and Kai !Gariep  San frequently clashed and so did Boer adventurers and fortune hunters like Adrian van Zyl and his sons, Jan Wiese, Petrus Pienaar and others, resulting in clashes and serious loss of life. New Boer farmers were taking control of water supplies and denying Namaqua access to them. Oorlam groups like that of Jager Afrikaner, Witbooi, the Koks and the Barends also played a role. All the tension arose from plundering livestock and assaulting communities in the process. This tension was stirred into eruption when commando leaders started keeping a record of Namaqua names in a register of the population, and the Namaqua believed that this was the first step toward enslavement.

The word went out that “they would defend themselves to the last or take flight rather than become slaves.” While these rebellions seemed to be  the ebb and flow of flare-ups between different groups encroaching on each other, it was all driven by colonial expansion involving the pushing of various peoples toward the Kai !Gariep River. When the tensions dissipated the conflict  manifested as attacks and counter-attacks of different Oorlam and ‘Baster’ groups on each other. And when those dissipated, the aggression turned on the various old Khoena and San communities on either side of the Kai !Gariep and in turn onto the Tswana and Sotho speaking groups northwards. The Kai !Gariep had now emerged as the potential border of the Cape Colony.

1800 THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD OF UPHEAVAL: The first two decades of the 19th century in the Cape Colony were a revolutionary period among indigenes and slaves. They saw the emergence of great leaders, revolutionary movements and revolts of various types. Men like Klaas Stuurman and David Stuurman, Louis van Mauritius, Makhana Nxele, Jager Afrikaner, Cornelius Kok, Barend Barends and Andries Waterboer emerged, as well as non-conformist Europeans like Dr Johannes van der Kemp, who agitated against slavery and the mistreatment of pacified Khoena on farms.

The terrain and style of the struggle had changed in remarkable ways. Some of these leaders also left us recorded narratives or gave a voice to their struggle, as had not done as clearly before this time. This voice showed a wrestling with ideas and an understanding of the world beyond the Cape Colony and of the influence of the struggles of oppressed peoples beyond our shores.

The period also showed that indigenous communities were not locked in time into the Van Riebeeck era, or times before that, or into antiquity. (It is unfortunate that some revivalist groups in the 21st century stereotype Khoena history and lock culture into colonialist ”noble primitive” terms in pre-colonial times or into Van Riebeeck’s time whereas like any other people in the world they too embraced advanced modes and progressed and their cultures progressed continuously in time).

Like all communities globally, the Khoena and │Xam were subject to the winds of change and adapted as people and adapted their cultures to suit modern times. Certainly they too utilised modern weapons and tools of struggle. In some respects if we look at the Griqua Revivalist Khoena political model, it was at one stage the most modern development compared to both the white and black opponents of British colonial rule.

ADAM KOK AND THE GRIQUA: Adam Kok I, was a manumitted Slave who had a farm called Stinkfontein, north of Piketberg from 1771, where he amassed a following of his wife’s people, the Griguriqua, and refugee so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’. [269]A decade later he and his community were pushed off their farm by Boers and they moved north to settle at Kamiesberg in Namaqualand. By this time Adam Kok[270] was a substantial leader of a large community of followers who were known as Bergenaar Basters who had very strong feelings about their independence. As the community grew, its original base which was Cape Khoena, Free Blacks, deserter slaves and descendants of relationships between all of these, grew further to include a few refugee San, Sotho, Nama, Tswana, Xhosa, Korana and non-conformist Europeans.

There are many myths which erroneously claim that missions provided sanctuary for the Khoena and played a progressive part in Khoena resistance. This is simply not true. Except for one early aborted missionary endeavour, the missionaries only arrived on the scene in the 1790s, four decades before the end of the 176 years of warfare on the Khoena and San. Their role was to mop up, pacify and assimilate the Khoena and surviving │Xam together with free slaves and other migrants of colour into colonial society as ‘coloureds’. They also specifically targeted the rebellious Oorlam and Bergenaar Baster groups of Khoena revivalist refugees from the Cape colonial wars. At this time Dr Johannes van der Kemp proved to be one of the exceptions to the norm and played a valuable role during the time of the Stuurmans and Makhana.

In 1801 London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries William Anderson and Cornelius Kramer engaged the Bergenaar Basters of Cornelius Kok 1, who succeeded Adam Kok, and his ally Barend Barends, who had married into the Kok family. By 1804 the combined followers of Kok and Barends moved to Klaarwater where the LMS set up a mission. On visiting the mission, the Rev John Campbell[271] a missionary who was as wed to his alcohol as to his faith, prevailed upon the community to drop the term ‘Basters’ as it was self-denigrating as well as allowing the Europeans to undermine them. It is thus that the name Griqua was adopted, as it went back to the time of the Griguriqua into which Adam Kok 1 had married by wedding a chief’s daughter.

Robert Ross[272] provides a comprehensive account of the Griqua odyssey, which is very complex. In my opinion it is most useful for modern day revivalists to study so as to see what could have been avoided. History has a tendency to repeat itself more in the negative sense than in the positive. Klaarwater was later renamed Griquatown after the Bergenaar Basters took on the new name  as described above, and this revived that element of their roots that linked to the Indigene Khoena – GRIQUA. The independent minded Griqua however continuously clashed with the missionaries because the missionaries were intent on serving the political cause of pacification on behalf of the colonial government. This ultimately led to a split between East and West Griqualanders with Andries Waterboer and his dynasty emerging as leaders of the West Griqualand people. Waterboer was of San lineage and was a teacher and mission agent. He was perceived as being more collaborationist.

Between 1801 and 1828 and beyond, the story of the Griqua[273] and the two Griqualands, their struggles, alignments and betrayals was a major part of the history of the Camissa Embrace which followed every new frontier, including the frontier in the minds of the oppressed. This was a deep part of the resistance story of people of colour. The Griqua story is most fascinating and there are numerous writers who have tackled their story, but perhaps the best and easiest read of these is Robert Ross.

Griqualand was the first manifestation of an independent modern proto-nation territory/state in Southern Africa of people of colour, and indeed of all people. The Boer Republics had not yet emerged at this time. It was the first emergence of a broad Khoena Revivalist movement and because it lasted more than two centuries it is the   most coherent and enduring manifestation of Cape Khoena revivalism ever. Although having spawned two streams and many divisions along the way it also remains one of the most united of Khoena revivalist traditions. While the Griqua umbrella was broad and accommodating and drew strongly on its partly indigenous roots, the Griquas were harsh towards every other community around them – to the │Xam and Kai !Garieb Eis (San) communities  in particular, but also towards the Nama, the Korana, the Sotho, the Tswana and the Xhosa.

The Korana were by this time no longer a majority of original !Gora people but were, like the Griqua, dominated by Khoena refugees from the colonial forces down south, even as far as the Cape Peninsula. They too were accommodating of an array of Drosters (the term for those fleeing the Cape Colony, who eventually caught up with them). The Korana, although prey to Griqua raids, also raided and persecuted others. The Kai !Gariep communities had radically changed by 1800 CE from a thousand and three hundred  years earlier when distinct San communities were joined by Khoena from the north. Neither the San communities nor the early Khoena communities were the same anymore. They were dominated by factions of refugees, Oorlam and Drosters who came from the Cape Colony and who had picked up some really bad behaviours from the Europeans like bullying, raiding livestock and attacking and killing Sa, Sotho and Tswana in their paths.

Increasingly from the last decade of the18th century, slaves too began to revolt in common cause with the Khoena, both on the eastern frontier and on the northern frontier. In the Roggeveld and in the Swellendam and Graaff Reinet districts in 1801 a combined force of Khoena and Slaves rose up against colonial farmers.[274] On the eastern frontier they were joined by Gqunukhwebe Xhosa.

The majority of the slaves in the Cape were now Africans from other territories across the continent but including slaves from the northern areas of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, who had been captured and sold through Mozambique.  In the Cape they would have been included among those known as Masbiekers. The differences between slaves and those known as ‘Hottentot-Basters’, and the differences between their working and living conditions were now negligible. It should also be noted that the importation of slaves had greatly increased once the British arrived and continued to increase until 1807.

The slavery and Khoena interface gradually merged over the next 50 years. After the proclamation of Ordinance 50 giving Khoena freedom of movement and land tenure and after the emancipation of slaves from slavery, the survivors together formed new communities of pacified proletarian labour alongside every white town. Along the routes of war and flight from the Colony, those of mixed Khoena-Slave heritage survived on farms and in small towns. Surviving resister communities regrouped ultimately far northwest and northeast within either older communities like the Namaqua and the Gora, from which all Cape Khoena originally stem, or within new revivalist communities like the Korana and Griqua.

1804 THE STUURMAN GONAQUA SETTLEMENT: Governor Francis Dundas of the Batavian Commonwealth granted land to Klaas Stuurman and his Gonaqua-Gamtoos followers to establish a permanent settlement, in an attempt to buy them off. He also offered the Khoena better protected conditions of service on farms.[275] The Stuurmans and their communities however were not “yes-men” easily bought nor were they a push-over when it came to a fight.

The voice of Klaas Stuurman,[276] who rallied to arms hundreds of Khoena reduced to labourers on settler farms, in articulating the grievances of the Khoena is one of the most important voices in the history of the Khoena-European conflict.  He delivered a long address to Dundas and Barrow. Barrow relates it as follows.

“One of the Hottentots called Klaas Stuurman, whom they had selected for their Chief, stepped forward, and, after humbly entreating us to hear him out, without interruption, began a long oration, which contained a history of their calamities and suffering under the yoke of the Boers; their injustice, in first depriving them of their country, and then forcing their offspring into a state of slavery, their cruel treatment on every slight occasion, which it became impossible for them to bear any longer, and the resolution they had therefore taken to apply for redress before the English troops should leave the country (the district). That their employers suspecting their intention, had endeavoured to prevent such an application by confining some to the house, threatening to shoot others if they attempted to escape, or to punish their wives and children in their absence.”

After showing the General a young Khoena boy who was wounded by the Boers, Klaas in his own words said:

“This act among many others equally cruel, resolved us at once to collect a sufficient force to deprive the Boers of their arms, in which we have succeeded at every house which had fallen in our way. We have taken their superfluous clothing in lieu of wages due for our services, but we have stripped none, nor injured the persons of any, though we have yet a great deal of our blood to avenge.”

“Restore the country of which our fathers were despoiled by the Dutch and we have nothing more to ask. We have lived very contentedly before these Dutch plunderers molested us, and why should we not do so again if left to ourselves? Has not the Groot Baas (God) given plenty of grass roots, and berries and grasshoppers for our use; and, till the Dutch destroyed them, an abundance of wild animals to hunt? And will they not return and multiply when these destroyers are gone?”

Klaas was effectively making the point that the Khoena would not be able to gain any advantage from controlling a country without having any property or the means to gain subsistence from it.

Newton-King and VC Malherbe[277] give us an excellent account of the Khoena period of uprising under the Stuurmans.

When it came to the occupation of the land offered by the Governor, however, Klaas died before taking occupancy. David Stuurman immediately took charge and was recognised by the authorities represented by Captain Alberti as having a right to the location granted to his brother Klaas. The death of Klaas occurred during a buffalo hunting expedition.

The land given to the Stuurmans was situated on the Klein River, east of the Gamtoos into which it flows. David’s people moved to the land in 1804. They were a group consisting of ten men and 32 women and children but were soon joined by many others – Khoena seeking refuge and slave deserters. The Stuurman community were settled and lawfully entitled to own their land for the first time in decades. There were six other Kapteins who were awaiting similar settlement. A brief truce thus followed during which the Khoena resisters even returned some of the cattle taken in war.

The period of truce did not hold for long. Only one other Kaptein received land.

The frontier Trekboers began making allegations against the Stuurmans from 1805 and these continued over the next few years. The land was referred to as a Gona kraal or Chief David Stuurman’s kraal and became a refuge for runaway Khoena farmworkers, slaves and conscripts into the militia. David Stuurman became a magnet for attracting displaced Gonaqua and at the same time developed close relations with Chief Chungwa of the Gqunukhwebe.

The increasing recruitment of young Khoi men into military service was having a negative impact on Khoena communities and was purposefully pitting the Khoena against their amaXhosa allies and other Khoena and the │Xam. The conscription issue was highly emotive issue, which David used for mobilising youth into the rebel fold. Chief David Stuurman’s small kraal broke every rule in the book and was a stumbling block for both the narrow interests of the Boer frontiersmen and for the new British authorities in the Cape. David Stuurman’s vigorous anti-conscription efforts amongst the Khoena attacked the heart of a key strategy of the British who hoped to use the Khoena as a buffer against the amaXhosa.

1806 BRITISH RULE: The Cape had ceased to be a Dutch VOC territory when a series of events occurred in the Netherlands which pulled the carpet of legality from under the feet of the VOC operating under the auspices of the United Provinces.  Everything changed once the Cape fell under the Batavian Commonwealth, as had all areas making up the Dutch company’s footprint from South Africa through to south Asia and southeast Asia.

The Batavian Republic had been established as a result of its attachment to France in 1798. The Cape of Good Hope under the rule of the VOC had been established under the patronage of the Dutch Republic known as the ‘States General’ (or United Provinces’) that existed from the creation of a confederacy in 1581 by seven Dutch provinces. It had lasted until the Batavian Revolution in 1795.

During the Anglo-French war in 1778 two conflicting groups emerged in the Netherlands – the pro-French Patriots and the pro-English Orangemen and this led to a series of republican revolutions through to 1787.  The English backed by the Prussians were victorious in that year and the republican revolutionaries fled to France, only to return again with the invading French armed forces. They replaced William the V, Prince of Orange, in 1795. The new Dutch order was called the Batavian Republic.

When William V asked the English to prevent France taking possession of the Dutch colonies, the English briefly occupied Cape Colony. However in terms of the Treaty of Amiens signed in 1802 between England and France, the English returned the Cape Colony to the Netherlands in 1803 under Governor Lieutenant-General J.W. Janssens. When the French Republic became the French Empire under Napoleon, the Batavian Republic was replaced by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Holland in 1806 and the British in an armed attack on the Cape of Good Hope again seized the Cape, this time permantly.

Steenkamp[278] provides a military historian’s perspective on the Battle of Blaauwberg. n 1806 the Batavian Commonwealth representative at the Cape was Lieutenant-General Jan Willem Jansens who had just over 2000 soldiers, including French marines, Germans and other Europeans. A major part of their forces were also people of colour – 600 Khoena troops in the Corps Vrye Hottentoten, 54 Free Black Javanese Mardijkers as vital artillery men with 16 field cannon and 100 slave auxiliaries to move the cannon over rough terrain. This dependency on people of colour for military defence was in spite of the fact that the European population was 25 000 strong.

In January the British arrived in Table Bay and proceeded to take the French aligned Cape of Good Hope by force. The battle of Blauuwberg ensued and Lt General Jan Willem Janssens, commander-in-chief of the military forces of the defence was forced to concede defeat to Lt General Sir David Baird, who had landed at Melkbosstrand.

The British invasion force who remained temporarily was just over 5000 soldiers strong, a substantial addition to the resident white population. For the first time the Cape colony, now cleansed of its indigene population, had a substantial colonising population, just exceeding that of the slaves.

By this time the Khoena culture and institutions of self-governance had been destroyed in the Cape Colony and over time traces of these were panel-beaten out of existence, with Khoena, freed slaves and Free Blacks being merged by the colonial authorities into one entity, which was labelled ‘Coloured’ by the time slavery was abolished in 1834.

1806  Patterson  provides a table showing the estimated population of the Cape Colony as being 26 768 Free Burghers; 1 200 Free Blacks; 29 861 slaves (80% living in the Cape Peninsula); and 20 426 Khoena. In addition there were of course the 5000 European soldiers temporarily resident at the Cape. A number took local wives but abandoned them later when posted to India and other occupied territories.

1807 – 1808 DAVID STUURMAN REJECTS THE ‘STAFF OF OFFICE’: The abolition of the transoceanic slave trade came into being when the British Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act on 25 March 1807. This news and the stories of the impact of the slave revolution in Haiti and elsewhere reached the shores of Cape Town and spread among slaves and Indigene resisters alike. Its impact was to be felt in Cape Town within 18 months. V C Malherbe[279] provides a comprehensive picture of David Stuurman. Mellet[280] also provides a biographical perspective for the National Monument’s Project honouring David Stuurman with a bronze statue of his likeness on the long road to freedom.

In 1808 at Captain David Stuurman’s village alongside Bethelsdorp he made a stand in refusing to accept the ‘Staff of Office’ from the local landdrost and spoke out about the press-ganging of Khoena youth into becoming military conscripts in the colonial forces and the continuing mistreatment of Khoena farm labourers. Stuurman’s village was being used as a centre where war refugees, militia deserters and conscription dodgers were gathering, to the consternation of the landdrost. Stuurman engaged in a face to face quarrel with a recruitment officer which antagonised the landdrost.

Bethelsdorp mission, started by Dr Johannes van der Kemp, differed from many other mission stations in that it attempted to blend with indigene culture and resisted the pressure asserted on it to facilitate military conscription and pacification. It was a small mission at that time that was fairly unsuccessful at attracting either Khoena or Xhosa, except those seeking refuge, largely because of the resistance dynamics of the time.

The refugees would then move on to David Stuurman’s protection. It is from this unusual mission that a mythology arose of missions being refuges for Khoena escaping colonial oppression.

While a few temporal elements of the Bethelsdorp phenomenon of ‘missions as places of refuge from the harsh authorities’ can be cited as being associated with a couple of other missions, the general trend was that the purpose of mission stations  was not to act as refuges. Missions were clearly part of a pacification and control drive involving collaboration between church and colonial authorities. Rebel priests such as van der Kemp were curtailed and harshly treated.

Dr van der Kemp was also an abolitionist of note who was hated by slave-owners and the authorities.


The War of the Klaas Stuurman & Chungwa’s Confederacy saw the new government of the First British Occupation at the Cape sending a contingent of British soldiers under Gen T P Vandeleur to crush a revolt by Boers in Graaff-Reinet in 1799.

General Vandeleur had met the Khoena on the road near Algoa Bay. Barrow describes when the Khoena were making their case to the British about their ill-treatment by the Boer frontiersmen. He says of Klaas Stuurman:

“One of the Hottentots called Klaas Stuurman, whom they had selected for their Chief, stepped forward, and, after humbly entreating us to hear him out, without interruption, began a long oration, which contained a history of their calamities and suffering under the yoke of the Boers; their injustice, in first depriving them of their country, and then forcing their offspring into a state of slavery, their cruel treatment on every slight occasion, which it became impossible for them to bear any longer, and the resolution they had therefore taken to apply for redress, before the English troops should leave the country (the district). That their employers suspecting their intention, had endeavoured to prevent such an application by confining some to the house, threatening to shoot others if they attempted to escape, or to punish their wives and children in their absence.” After showing the General a young Khoena boy who was wounded by the Boers, Klaas stated: “This act among many others equally cruel, resolved us at once to collect a sufficient force to deprive the Boers of their arms, in which we have succeeded at every house which had fallen in our way. We have taken their superfluous clothing in lieu of wages due for our services, but we have stripped none, nor injured the persons of any, though we have yet a great deal of our blood to avenge.”

In April 1799 a Khoena-Xhosa Confederacy had been established to resist the continued advance of Trekboers into Khoena and Xhosa territory and the raiding of cattle by these invaders. The Khoena were also incensed about the brutal behaviour on farms bordering their communities where Khoena had been pressed into labour alongside slaves. The united Khoena and amaXhosa forces swooped on farms throughout the Zuurveld down to Swellendam and right through to Oudtshoorn.

Commandos from Graaff-Reinet and Swellendam were then quickly mobilised to counter the attacks and the British and Boers were forced into an alliance of expediency.

The Khoena-Xhosa Confederacy was a nightmare for the colonists because they had done their best to inculcate to the Khoena that the Xhosa were not their people but part of a foreign invading force who meant them ill. Most Khoena in the region did not buy this false story because they knew that they were integrated with the Xhosa, had families with the Xhosa, had language ties to a degree, and had the common experience of loss of land and livestock. Their cultures, religion and folk-stories were the same in many respects too. (The false story is still spread by those who cling to the collaboration tradition today even though it’s now dressed in radical ethno-nationalist and anti-black racist rhetoric).

Many pacified Khoena, slaves and mixed Khoena-slave labourers and military conscripts were also deserting the colonists and joining in the resistance, while colonists were abandoning their farms in the face of widespread Khoena revolt.

In 1801 the rebel Khoena under Klaas Stuurman, Hans Trompetter and Boesak carried out widespread raids. In the face of these highly skilled Khoena rebel fighters the commandos made no headway, facing defeat wherever they tried to attack. Before the British government ceded the Cape Administration to the Batavian Republic in early 1803 a peace favourable to the Khoena was signed by Klaas Stuurman. Neither the Khoena nor the Xhosa could be made to leave the Zuurveld and there was an agreement that all Khoena would have written contracts and better working conditions.

The issues of this war became socio-political and economic as the Khoena were now not just fighting about land, livestock and resources. They also were making demands for an end to conscription of Khoena, for freedom of movement and for a halt to the violence and ill treatment of farmworker Khoena and slaves.

1808 THE GREAT SLAVE UPRISING AND THE  FIRST AND LARGEST TREASON TRIAL IN SA HISTORY saw the ‘Jij’ Rebellion of 25 October 1808 led by Louis van Mauritius as the largest slave uprising ever at the Cape  and both Khoena and slaves participated in it.

Mellet[281] relates the story and consults Theal,[282] Loos,[283] de Villiers[284], Harris[285] and Worden[286] in presenting a comprehensive picture of an uprising that culminates in the largest “treason trial” in South African history.

On 25 October 1808 a slave revolt took place at the Cape. It is remembered as the ‘Jij Rebellion’ (pronounced “jay”) led by the slaves Louis of Mauritius and Abraham van der Kaap and it took on the nature of a military style campaign, though it was short lived. The Haiti influence was clear. For two days over 326 slaves, many Masbiekers, a few indentured Khoena labourers and two Irish sailors participated in an organised rebellion plotted at a Camissa waterfront tavern and launched from the Swartland wheat-belt. The leader of this rebellion was a 30-year-old slave by the name of Louis van Mauritius, who had first arrived at Camissa in 1881 as a 3 year old child.

In 1791 a slave rebellion broke out in St Dominique in the Caribbean, which by its successful conclusion in 1804 had claimed over 300 000 lives on both sides. Led by Toussaint l`Overture against the French colonists, the revolution established the first black republic of rebel slaves, which they named the Republic of Haiti.

Three further events sent ripples throughout the slave-reliant colonial world, including the Cape. In 1794 the abolition of slavery was declared in France and in the same year the Maroon War in Jamaica was instigated by runaway slaves. This was followed by the Feron Slave Revolt of 1796 against the British in Grenada in the Caribbean.

Another conflict that had an impact on all British colonies was the United Irishmen`s Rebellion, which erupted against British Rule in Ireland. The first British governor at the Cape in 1806 had been in Ireland during this rebellion, in command of the Dragoons who later put down the revolt by Louis of Mauritius. These tales were related to Louis of Mauritius and Abraham van de Caab and set the scene for the Cape’s biggest slave revolt and subsequent ‘treason trial’ after it was crushed.

Those in revolt had in a short period and in a relatively well organised campaign, not without serious problems, taken over 40 farms and captured the farmers and their families. Using little violence, they covered the Malmesbury and Swartland areas, Blouberg and Tygervalley and managed to reach the outskirts of Cape. The treason trial recorded the finer details and labelled the revolt a ‘rebellion and evil deed’. A statement by Abraham van der Caab was raised in court to define the revolt –  “tomorrow when the bloody red flag of battle goes up and the fight for freedom is complete, you will be able to address your owners as Sij (she) or Jij (you).” Slave owners were entitled not to be addressed familiarly or equally as ‘you`. They were only to be addressed as ‘master` or ‘thou`. The central point in the trial illustrates clearly the motive for the rebellion – a fight for ‘equality` – symbolised by these expressions of familiarity. It is the simple usage of the words ‘she’ and ‘you’ that became the bearer of the standard in the fight for ‘equality and freedom`.

Governor du Preez known as Lord Caledon sent out the Dragoon cavalry from the castle and they checked the advance of the two columns of slaves at Salt River, rounding them up, and putting others to flight. After all had been captured the biggest treason trial in South African history took place, involving 346 slave and Khoena rebels. The trial was broken into two, whereby most of the 346 were given a broad sentence for being rebellious and handed over to their owners for punishment or “correction” as Lord Caledon put it, as they saw fit. Then 62 of the slaves faced a set of serious charges in the main trial.

Sixteen of the rebels were condemned to death by the Court. The Governor, Lord Caledon, intervened to commute 11 of the death sentences.

Louis van Mauritius, Hooper – one of the Irishmen –  Abraham van der Kaap and Jephta of Batavia were sentenced to hang for their leadership of the act of rebellion. Cupido of Java who had committed the purely criminal act of rape was also sentenced to death.

Louis boldly managed to escape from prison after he had been condemned but he was apprehended and returned by a reward seeker. Louis’ wife Anna died during the trial after becoming ill with stress.

Another 46 slaves were given various heavy sentences including imprisonment on Robben Island. Many of these slaves were from Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the northern parts of South Africa – the Masbiekers, who were the most down-trodden of slaves at the time.

While the ‘Jij’ rebellion failed in its mission, it resulted in major changes at the Cape. Slaves began to stand up for themselves more and more. Slave owners were more aware that they could be challenged and that the slavery system had a limited shelf life. The authorities were forced to come up with systems to hear and deal with the complaints of slaves. More and more smaller challenges by slaves occurred and another revolt took place in 1825. An abolitionist movement even developed amongst the white settlers. History shows that Louis and the rebels made an indelible impact on slavery conditions at the Cape and hastened the demise of slavery there.

1809 INTRODUCTION OF THE ‘Hottentot Proclamation’ known as the Caledon Codes in this year the Caledon Code or more accurately the Hottentot Proclamation (sometimes called the Hottentot Code) was passed to control the free so-called “Hottentot” or “Hottentot-Baster” labour force on farms by taking away their freedom of movement. [287]

The code said that all “Hottentots” now had to have a fixed abode and required a ‘pass’ from the farmer controlling the fixed abode to move about freely. Effectively it formalised the earlier de facto extension of the pass regulations from slaves to Khoena. The code also made labour contracts compulsory and required that these be registered by the farmers. It furthermore set conditions under which an employer could withhold wages for goods supplied to “Hottentot” labour. eg: For payment in kind. The proclamation extended to all people regarded as “Coloured” and also extended taxation to them. These were the first steps of the Cape Colony embracing liberal capitalism as its economic modus. It would only be repealed and replaced by a new liberal capitalist ordinance in 1828.

Just as Khoena society, its culture and its means of struggle had changed dramatically since 1652 and before, so too had the methods of control and oppression changed.  In 1811 in an attempt to appease the growing protest and revolt among the Khoena about the cruelty and violence of farmers towards Khoena labour, the British announced a proclamation instituting ‘Circuit Courts’ to investigate and prosecute farmers engaging in violence and cruelty against the Khoena labourers on their farms.[288]

Then in 1812 the ‘Hottentot Proclamation’ was modified by the ‘Apprenticeship of Servants Act’ that allowed for the apprenticeship and employment without pay of free children if the child was an orphan, or destitute, or had grown up on a farm. This covered all children born of slave and Khoena relationships on farms and it also covered kidnapped San children after their parents were killed in genocide raids.

The children could be apprenticed until the age of 25. This was a codification of earlier apprenticeship controls introduced by the Dutch, going back to 1775. War was not the only means that was used to control Indigenes and often government moves and legislation were dressed up in a manner to project that they were in fact ‘PROTECTING’ Indigenes whereas the opposite was true. This practice has continued right up to the present day and there were always those among the indigenes who naively supported such moves.


The British Scorched Earth Campaign in the Zuurveld where the British government at the Cape sent Lt-Col Richard Collins in 1809 to tour the frontier areas and afterwards, based on his recommendations, a decision was taken to expel all Xhosa and Khoena from the Zuurveld. They resolved that the Zuurveld be densely settled by Europeans, while the area between the Fish and the Keiskamma Rivers should become an unpopulated strip of land with no occupants, whether settler or indigene.[289]

In 1811, Lt Colonel John Graham allied with Landrost Anders Stockenstroom of Graaff Reinet swooped on the Zuurveld with an army made up of British, Boers and pacified Khoena and drove every man, woman and child, numbering over 20 000 Gqnukhwebe, Ndlambe Xhosa and Rebel Khoena, across the Fish River. The army was supported by the local commandos of Swellendam, George and Uitenhage. Colonel Graham was recognised by the colonial authorities by having a new frontier town named after him – Grahamstown. Joining the 500 British troops were 700 pacified Khoena in the Cape Regiment, also under Col Graham’s command.

Governor Cradock instructed Lt Colonel John Graham to efficiently carry out a scorched earth approach so as to ensure

 the expediency of destroying the Kaffir kraals, laying waste their gardens and fields and in fact totally removing any object that could hold out to their chiefs an inducement to revisit the regained territory.

Lt Colonel John Graham in his own words to his father said

The only way of getting rid of them is by depriving them of the means of subsistence and continually harassing them, for which purpose the whole force is constantly employed in destroying the prodigious quantities of Indian corn and millet which they have planted…. Taking from them the few cattle which they conceal in the woods….and shooting every man who can be found… As to fighting, it is out of the question; we are forced to hunt them like wild beasts. 

At another time he told Governor Cradock that

the most effectual measure….would be to pursue parties of plundering Kaffirs to the kraal they belong to, and if possible, burn their huts and destroy every man Kaffir it contains. 

It is on record that the ageing Chief Chungwa of the mixed Xhosa-Khoena Gqunekhwebe was killed in his hut while asleep.

It is a shameful blot on Khoena history that the pacified Khoena forces were brutal participants in these massacres, just as they had been with the /Xam (the Cape San; the only ‘First People’ of the Cape). Much of the present hostility by some ‘Coloured’ people in modern times against black people is rooted in this collaboration of some Khoena at that time with colonialists against other Khoena, the San and their Xhosa allies.

The British, Boer and collaborator Khoena forces did not have it all their way. The Xhosa and rebel Khoena forces put up much resistance. In one of the battles Andries Stockenstrom was killed. Word went out that Chief David Stuurman was said to have been responsible for the Stockenstrom death and thus his profile as a formidable foe increased. In January 1812 Stuurman’s ally Chungwa was killed and Stuurman then allied with Ndlambe of the Rharabe amaXhosa and retreated across the Fish River.

John Campbell of the London Missionary Society who visited the Zuurveld in 1813 said:

 “Formerly it was strewn over with Kaffir villages, but now not a living soul is to be found. Universal stillness reigns

The prosperous settled southern Xhosa and Khoena and advanced Khoena farming communities were brutally destroyed to facilitate white settlement and left instead with a legacy of poverty in the Eastern Cape.

Again the colonialists were able to hold the ground gained in war through the collaboration of the Xhosa leader Ngqaika who signed a treaty with Lord Charles Somerset. This resulted in the antagonism of Ndlambe and further civil conflict between Ndlambe and Ngqaika supporters. Out of this cauldron arose a remarkable spiritual and military leader known as an Itola – Makhana, also called Nxele, the son of a Khoena mother, a diviner, and a Xhosa father.

The British massacred and pushed out of the Zuurveld its former 22 000 combined free Khoena and amaXhosa inhabitants. Although the fourth frontier war had concluded, David Stuurman and his men continued the war of the flea and he remained amongst the amaXhosa. Over the year’s snippets of information, such as an account by the missionary, Read, in 1816, continued to reach the authorities in the Colony which simply showed that Stuurman was still around, and a force to be reckoned with. He continued to receive escaped slaves and deserters from the pacified Khoena in the colony.


Makhana and David Stuurman’s War followed Ngqaika’s defeat by Ndlambe in 1818, when Nqgaika asked the colonial authorities for assistance in his efforts to gain ascendency in the civil conflict among the Xhosa. As a result in December 1818 the British colonial forces invaded the Xhosa territory that they had agreed to be Xhosa territory in the last treaty. The British showed that they were no different to the VOC before them in violating both the spirit and letter of treaties, proving that treaties were not worth the paper that they were written on. Treaties were just a holding exercise mechanism before the British would carry out the next violation. They defeated Ndlambe, but when the British departed, a united force of Xhosa, dismayed at Ngqaika’s collaboration with colonists against his own people, supported Ndlambe in defeating Nqgaika.[290]

Later in December 1818 Ngqaika and the British forces launched an attack on Ndlambe’s warriors to teach them a lesson. When they left, however, Ndlambe was again able to defeat Ngqaika, and then assembled a large army led by his now powerful and popular military adviser, Makhana, and took the war of resistance into the Colony. With up to 10 000 men he attacked Grahamstown in April 1819.[291]

Theattack was repulsed with the help of a pacified Khoena collaborator Jan Boezak and 180 of his men returning from a hunting expedition. At a low point for the British garrison, which ran out of ammunition, Boezak saved the day for the British at Grahamstown and allowed British reinforcements to defeat Ndlambe and push their control back as far as the Kei River.

Makhana, concerned about the Xhosa losses, surrendered and was imprisoned on a British ship and taken to Robben Island. Makhana is quoted as telling the British “People say that I occasioned this war. Let me see if giving myself up will restore the peace”. This was also the last of the great resistance war efforts of the Khoena, now reduced to guerrilla allies to the amaXhosa. David Stuurman had also made his last stand against the British during this 5th Xhosa War of Resistance in which the remnants of the old Klaas Stuurman Xhosa-Khoena Confederacy continued a Guerrilla War against the British. Indeed right through the Xhosa Wars of Resistance there would always remain a Khoena resistance element. This came dramatically to the fore during the Kat River Rebellion in 1853.

The 5th Xhosa-Khoena Resistance War was really the beginning of a different kind of resistance by the Khoena, The Khoena rebels, though certainly not with mass followings, would continue to play a heroic role in this different kind of resistance in the Eastern Cape. They would remain allied with the amaXhosa throughout, understanding the need for united African resistance and thus breaking ranks with those Khoena who succumbed to missionary indoctrination that they were superior to other Africans and were a brown race, set apart.

The Kat River Rebellion was an exception, as was the guerrilla warfare of Khoena Bergenaar commanders such as Uithaalder and Hans Branders, who kept large British forces pinned down for two years. The Kat River rebellion had effectively been a cruel trick played on Khoena and freed slaves, whereby they were given the impression that they were being given an opportunity to realise freedom, self-determination and awarded land tenure. The real story behind the granting of Kat River land to Indigene and slave descents was simply to create a protective buffer between European settlement and the Xhosa. When many of the Kat River residents realised that this was the intent, they rose up in rebellion, led by Herman Matroos, and sided with the Xhosa against the British. The Kat River rebellion demonstrated that though the Indigenes of the Cape had been crushed by a triumphant white Cape Colony, their spirit marched on.

Chief David Stuurman pioneered guerrilla warfare in this 5th war by bringing together the mixed band of Khoena, so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’ and escaped slaves. This would bring to an end the era of over seventeen decades of wars of resistance and after Stuurman’s banishment as a prisoner to Australia and the adoption by government of Ordinance 50 a  new era of struggle using different methods would ensue. Great acts of Khoena, Oorlams, Namaqua and Griqua resistance joined with revolts in communities in some mission stations would carry the resistance traditions forward in the 19th century, but war as defined as soldiers going head to head had come to an end for the Khoena and the San defending their own territory. The guerrilla actions that followed were by a people that no longer had a secure place to call their own, nor very well defined support communities.[292]

David Stuurman was taken to Cape Town along with Makhana and other amaXhosa prisoners of war on 22 December 1819 on board the ship Queen, and sent to Robben Island.

In October 1819 the Xhosa leaders were forced to recognise the puppet Ngqaika as the primary leader of the amaXhosa. Ngqaika and Lord Somerset then made a gentlemen’s agreement whereby the area between the Fish and the Keiskamma Rivers, with the exception of the Tyume Valley held by the Xhosa, would be a neutral zone free of both Xhosa and European settlers. Needless to say, the British would violate that treaty as well. No free Khoena or San land, communities or structures existed in the Cape Colony any longer. Cultural and economic ethnocide had taken its course.


In this watershed year the British landed 5000 British Settlers in the Eastern Cape to consolidate their hold over the resisting amaXhosa. These British Settlers expropriated the land forcibly taken from the Indigene population without any compensation and through large scale killings of Khoena and Xhosa in which sustainable livelihoods were destroyed and livestock stole. It was thievery at a grand scale. In the same year all of the resistance leaders – Khoena and Xhosa – were incarcerated on Robben Island.


 In August 1820 a convict at the Robben Island Prisoner of War compounds, Johan Smit, planned a dramatic escape with Khoena leader Hans Trompetter and others. They overpowered and disarmed a sentry and then freed a number of other prisoners who broke into the armoury and released and armed even more prisoners. Amongst these was Makhana, the great warrior prophet who had been captured in the fifth frontier war of resistance, and the Khoena leader, Chief David Stuurman.[293]

After a gunfight with the prison guards in which one was killed and others wounded, some 30 prisoners made their way to the whalers’ boat station. Here they split into three groups, each with an escape boat. The boat carrying Trompetter, Stuurman and Makhana overturned in the heavy surf at Bloubergstrand. Only four escapees survived, amongst them Trompetter and Stuurman. Trompetter’s sister was married to Makhana. The great resistance hero Makhana, the prophet warrior of Gonaqua and amaXhosa heritage, was drowned. He is reported to have clung to the capsized boat, shouting encouragement to the others before disappearing under water. The boat commanded by Johan Smit made it to shore with all its escapees, but the boat commanded by another prisoner, Holmes, also overturned and only three survived.

The escapees were hunted down. Of the 30 that escaped, fourteen had drowned, twelve were recaptured, two were killed and only two evaded capture. The main conspirators who had organised the break-out were hanged while others were flogged and branded and had their years of imprisonment extended. Chief David Stuurman was spared death because of an act of mercy shown toward a Mr Bryant during the escape in which Bryant’s life was spared. However he was sentenced to be transported for life to the penal settlement in New South Wales in Australia.[294]


Until the ship Brampton departed for Australia on 25 February 1823, Chief David Stuurman was sent back to Robben Island for the third time. Chief David Stuurman was the only person to have successfully escaped from Robben Island – and he did so on two occasions. David Stuurman and Jantjie Piet were the only two Khoena there at that time and they were both sent to Sydney on 22 April 1823.[296]

A number of people argued for Chief David Stuurman’s release and return to South Africa. Amongst them were the philanthropist Saxe Bannister and fellow-philanthropist and journalist Thomas Pringle, who wrote an article for the New Monthly Magazine in 1828. In it he recorded the long struggle of David Stuurman with the colonial authorities. In 1831 there was an order for the release of Chief David Stuurman, but it was too late. In 1830, a year after his prison conditions had been relaxed, the last of the great Khoena resistance leaders in the Eastern Cape died.

In this year Lord Governor Somerset issued a proclamation liberalising conditions of slavery so that slaves had the right to marry and be baptized as Christians. Working hours were regulated and slave children under ten years old could not be sold. The testimony of Christian slaves was now also accepted in a court of law. The issue of slave children not being sold made a mockery of the fact that the British Parliament had already abolished trading in slaves altogether some 18 years previously and illustrates that one should not accept legislation or records as an accurate reflection of reality when evaluating the past.


 In 1825 Galant, a young slave of 25, led a rebellion involving 12 slaves and ‘Khoena-Baster’ labourers, killing his master and two other Boers.

The Khoena in the Koue Bokkeveld had been defeated by the Trekboers and their commandos many decades earlier and much bitterness still remained as did the cruel behaviour of farmers first adopted on the massacre drives. Galant had regularly been beaten and locked up and had his property stolen by his master. Galant had reported this to the authorities repeatedly without redress. He could not take the abuse anymore and organised his fellow slaves and apprenticed Khoena labourers to revolt.

Galant and the others were captured after a fight in the mountains, put on trial, convicted and executed. The Galant uprising is simply an example of the waves of unrest that were occurring at this time.[297]


Ordinance 50 was the final death knell of the distinct Cape Khoena Identity. It was the first step toward the declaration of Khoena, freed-slaves and other non-Xhosa persons of colour in the Cape Colony to be ‘Coloured’ and to de-Africanise them. By 1836 the term ‘Coloured’ appeared in some official documents but was later dropped until entrenched in the 1911 census, using a very broad definition of the term. The term effectively was the last nail in the coffin of large scale Cape Khoena and │Xam resistance.[298] In 1904 it was the last time that the Colonial authorities listed as a distinct category some 86 000 Khoena (or Khoi) people then labelled “Hottentot” incorporating Nama, Damara, Korana, Griqua and other Cape ‘Hottentots’.

These were integrated with descendants of African and Asian Slaves, Indentured Labourers, other Migrants of colour and non-conformist Europeans who assimilated with these. Africans made up this vast majority of all of these with few able to say that they had no forebear who was part of their family trees. Those labelled ‘Coloured’ were effectively de-Africanised by the authorities. Later in 1950 this was entrenched by the Apartheid Regime’s Population Registration Act and Group Areas Act. In 1994 the ANC government effectively retained this Colonial and Apartheid categorisation by Apartheid, even although it repealed the laws underpinning the definition of “Coloured”. Regularly ANC leaders say that “Coloured” people are a non-African minority and use the phrase “black people in general and Africans in particular” where “Black people” means all persons of colour but “African” means exclusion of ‘Coloured’ and Asian, thus denying those labelled ‘Coloured’ their rightful African birth-right based on ancestry. It is one of the worst indignities of Apartheid and Colonialism, by another means.

Ordinance 50 repealed the Hottentot Proclamation of 1809, allowing ‘Hottentots’ and so-called ‘Hottentot-Basters’ and all free persons of colour, freedom from carrying passes or adherence to pass laws (still in practice for other Africans), granting their right to land ownership, freedom from compulsory conscription into military service, and freedom from being flogged for labour offences. It also stipulated limitations on labour contracts. It would remain in place until 1841 when it was superseded by the Masters and Servants Ordinance.[299]There was no restoration of land stolen by colonists, nor restoration  for  the livestock stolen nor any reparations given for 176 years of subjection to war and indignities – no restorative justice at all. Effectively it was now almost impossible to acquire land and certainly not the rich arable land and water resources once owned. Ordinance 50 was largely meaningless.

Both Ordinance 50 and the Masters and Servants Ordinance on the face of it spoke to supposed freedom from the past oppression of slavery and enserfment,  but it soon came to be understood that overlordship by masters would remain the order of the day and new innovations in exploitation would follow. The Europeans rationalised identities like pawns on a chessboard in a first step towards artificially creating a single identity called ‘coloured’ as separate from those they called ‘Kaffirs’, later to be changed to ‘Natives’. Both these legislative moves were the first steps in ‘race-based’ social engineering, the foundations of which were called Cape Liberalism.

The damage of 176 years of warfare and degradation had been done and a culture, language, land, livestock and resources had been lost forever. Nothing was returned. There was no restitution and there has been no restitution to date.

Legislated controls over the lives of people of colour were now commonplace and 1828 marked an end of one era and beginning of another, in which political struggle would come into the ascendency. Politics was war or resistance by other means.

The Census began to be changed from the separate categories of Hottentot-Baster, Slaves, Prize Slaves or ‘Liberated Africans’ and Free Blacks. By 1865 it had gradually moved to referring to just ‘Hottentots’ (incorporating Nama, Damara, Griqua, San and Cape Hottentots) and ‘Mixed/Other’ and then there was a period when the terminology used went backward and forward, until 1911, when the term ‘Coloured’ became entrenched. The Cape San (or │Xam or Bushmen) no longer featured as a recognised people in official records. We have only the Bleak records of the late 1800s as testament to the existence of the │Xam.


1828 represented an end to one form of oppression and the beginning of a new Form of oppression It also marked the end of wars of conquest faced by the Khoena and resistance combat as the main avenue of resistance. From this point rebellions and challenges such as those of the Kat River Rebellion, the East Griqualand insurrection and many others, or further support by Khoena in the Xhosa frontier wars of resistance, such as that of Hans Branders in Mqoma’s war, became new forms of resistance.

While these new forms of resistance arose, the deportation of David Stuurman and the death of Makhana brought to a close a long-protracted era of indigene resistance warfare within the Cape Colony by the Khoena and the │Xam. The San people’s extermination continued as they faced not just the colonists’ acts of genocide but also extermination by Nama, Griqua, Korana and various Khoena and Oorlam formations. The slender gene imprint that remained was as part of a range of South African tribes into which they were forced to assimilate. For anyone to lay claim to the San identity except for the few survivors, is to add insult to injury. San heritage and the various San formations’ names should stand alone and not be put together with Khoi as ‘Khoisan’ an appendage for political or economic gain. We need to show respect for a people who were harmed by all because they all participated in the extermination of the San.  The term Khoisan was a creation of a German zoologist turned anthropologist Leonard Schultze who during the genocide against the Nama and Herero’s in Namibia, did experiments on Nama in the concentration camps and of the dead that were massacred. There was never a Khoisan people and it is disrespectful to use the falsity presented to us by the Nazi intelligentsia of the early 20th century. In South Africa today there are around 1 500 San people of local lineages, besides the identities locked into those of others, and about 6000 San whom South Africa has rightly given refuge from Namibia and Angola, because of the SADF of Apartheid years abuse of these people for their war effort. The San and the Khoena are part of our Camissa Embrace.

The amaXhosa Wars (wars 6 to 9), the Zulu Wars and other resistance efforts continued the resistance war tradition first started by the Khoena and │Xam. Those first 176 years of resistance (1652 – 1828) were the longest, bloodiest and most resilient examples of all resistance to colonialism ever seen in southern African history, indeed anywhere in Africa.

It was accompanied by genocide at the hands of colonists never seen elsewhere in Africa to this degree except in German controlled West Africa and King Leopold of Belgium’s genocide in the Congo – yet this story was largely omitted from history books and continues to be omitted.

Nowhere in our national monuments or within our history is recognition given to this most important, longest and strongest resistance to colonialism. No other African people lost as much under colonialism and Apartheid that the Khoena, │Xam and the slaves yet in the new South Africa their descendants called “Coloured’ are insultingly also called a non-African minority. The leader of the political party COPE announced to the world that no land was ever stolen by white people from Africans. So bad has colonial and Apartheid denialism penetrated the minds of the oppressed that an African leader can become an apologist and denialist simply because of the desire to be accepted by those of European lineage in South Africa. Leaders in both the ANC and the EFF parties continue to refer to those Africans labelled “Coloured” as “Blacks in General” or “Black Consciousness Blacks” and when defining Africans explicitly imply that those Africans who do not have an affiliation to the Apartheid defined African groups are not real Africans. This is ethno-nationalist nonsense and deeply embedded Apartheid and colonialist mentalities and no less offensive than those who talk of “Alien Bantu invaders”. Until we shed this mentality we will remain unliberated regardless of how revolutionary or radical we label ourselves.

This chapter more than definitively illustrates the theft, murder and denigration of Africans by European colonists, and restorative justice still remains elusive. When it comes to slavery, when the slaves were finally effectively freed in 1838, the masters were paid compensation for losing their property, the slaves, and the slaves received no restorative justice.

This chapter sought to answer the question – “What happened to the San and the Khoena?”  It also sought to answer the question – “show us the land that was stolen and how it was taken”.

The professionally drafted census from 1865 onwards to 1911, even with their imperfections is our best measure for the numerical approach to what the numbers of Khoena may be today. It also shows us town for town exactly where around 96 000 lived. It also shows us that by 1911 a probable 20% were classified as Xhosa, Sotho or Tswana and the rest as ‘Coloured’. The following data chart provides the census progression towards the de-Africanisation of those classified ‘Coloured’ in 1911.




Those Khoena (or Khoi) who valued their freedom and culture and were dedicated to resistance totally embraced the Xhosa and the Xhosa embraced them. While many Khoena youth were press-ganged through conscription into the commandos and militia, this was not true for all; some served willingly and the roots of antagonism between those classified ‘Coloured’ and those ‘Black’ today emanate from that time. Those who were conscripted and did not want to be part of this oppressive system formed a chain of resistance as deserters and these were given refuge by the Namas in the west and the Xhosa and free Khoena in the east.  A division between resisters and collaborators has carried on throughout history. The collaborators were largely from the southwestern Cape and they committed atrocities as part of the genocide on the │Xam.

The collaborator tradition that started at the time of the general commando continued right up until apartheid, during which the same families who served faithfully for generations participated willingly in the SADF, the SAP and the Security Police. It is likely that those so racist and negative towards fellow Africans when standing under the banner of Khoi or Khoisan come from this shameful tradition. No true Khoena or Khoi person today who understands the 176 years of resistance wars and how their Khoena forebears stood united with their Gqunukhwebe and Xhosa cousins in combat would ever rubbish their African brothers and sisters or be abusive in the way we often hear and witness. That is the behaviour of fraudsters. We have to be honest about this history as there were collaborators among the Xhosa, and Zulu and Tswana and every other group of Africans. But each had valiant resisters who fight tirelessly against degradation and oppression aand the resister tradition rose above adversity and it defined and identity that rises way above race, tribe or ethnicity.

Another most important thing to learn from these 176 years of warfare is that no other people in South Africa fought in resistance so hard and over such a long time and indeed with such casualties and with genocide and ethnocide inflicted on them as did the Khoena and the │Xam. The loss of land, water, livestock, sustainable livelihoods and entrepreneurial business was also the worst experienced by any tribe or kingdom in South Africa. Their very identities, social cohesion, community infrastructure and culture were all obliterated in ethnocide against the Khoena and genocide against the San and Gqunukhwebe. The British and Dutch Governments ought to be petitioned for reparations as they were both perpetrators and primary beneficiaries of the ‘loan farm’ system.

The South African government should assist both the Khoena communities and the Camissa People to take up this matter and establish a national trust which has at its focus land restitution centred on our people who are living as backyard dwellers or in shantytowns or in sub-economic housing. The trust should also create better built environments for those in slums and   in rural districts it should be used to help people start restoring sustainable livelihoods. Government should stop its word games and dawdling while people remain homeless and helpless and for those who could farm, landless. The deep ignorance within government and in the post 1994 ANC of the history of those labelled “Coloured” is astounding and part of the problem that results in a lot of anger among the many former UDF and ANC cadres from these communities. It looks like the ANC government has actually adopted the same approach as the British administration in colonial times and the Apartheid approach to this artificial separation of  Khoi and Camissa (“Coloured”) from the rest of the African population.

Those forced removals carried on through the Apartheid Group Areas Act which compounded the older dispossession illustrated by these wars has also never been properly addressed for tenants who were forcibly removed, and indeed for tenants who have continued to be forcibly removed under the Democratic Alliance government in the Western Cape and their white business friends in the gentrification business, which has always been rooted in Apartheid practices. In the Western Cape we should have had a public tribunal to look at land dispossession and atrocities committed which are unique to this province in scale and character. More innovative means could be used to address the ghettoisation of our people and restorative justice cannot effectively happen unless those who benefitted – 8,7% of South Africa’s population is compelled by the state to return what their forebears took from the majority without compensation. The dramatic deeds of dispossession of the past need a dramatic and radical solution to be found in the present so that the over 91% of people of colour may stand a chance of building dignified lives.

Finally another name for ‘ethnocide’ is ‘cultural genocide’. It is a shame that the ANC government has not addressed our Camissa and Khoena (or Khoi) grievances about still using apartheid terminology and methods to de-Africanise our people. Unrecognised Africans are claiming our African birth-rights and cultural rights. It is an abomination that although our Parliament has repealed apartheid legislation, government still uses insulting apartheid categorisation and practices, which result in discrimination against Camissa and Khoena people as a “Coloured race classification”.  We are the only African community singled out for punitive measures regardless of the widespread collaboration by Bantustan leaders and apparatchiks during the apartheid era, and regardless of how many of our young people gave their lives in the struggle against the apartheid regime.

All research surveys show that the vast majority of people classified ‘Coloured’ by the ANC government live in the same awful conditions that the rest of the African population live under. The ANC government also insultingly calls Camissa and Khoena people a non-African minority and uses the most hated phrase among our people…… “Blacks in general; Africans in particular”, to the exclusion of Camissa and Khoena (or Khoi) as Africans. People never thought that the ANC would adopt apartheid tactics against our people in this manner.

The many aggrieved continue to call upon fellow African brothers and sisters in the ANC and all South Africans to really throw apartheid practices into the rubbish bin where they belong and to work together to restore African dignity. The courts in our country have ruled that this is wrong and unacceptable, but the ANC has insisted on carrying on these unfair and discriminatory practices which marginalise one section of our African population. No African can have dignity as long as some Africans denigrate other Africans by stripping them of their African birth-right.

An injury to one is an injury to all!  If Africans were more united instead of engaging in bizarre behaviours and adopting false histories, this is what we would focus on!

For those who want further proof of the methodology used to dispossess the Cape Indigenes of their land during the period of ethnic cleansing and land grabs by European settlers in the Cape Colony I would recommend reading this paper by an economist – historian who unpacks the various economic instruments employed by the VOC in terms of land/property acquisition which lay the foundations of legal instruments that control property today. – “From land grants to loan farms; Property rights and the extent of settlement in Dutch South Africa 1652 – 1750 “ by Alan Dye of Barnard College, Columbia University, Sumner La Croix, University of Hawaii-Manoa (2017). It looks at the four tier instruments of land possession – 1) the early land grant system; 2) the grazing rights licencing system; 3) the ‘first possession’ system catering for Trekboers and encouraging expropriation; 4) the ‘leningplaats’ system (loan farm system). These were the economic tools that ran alongside aggression, war and genocide and the process of dispossession of the land.

Although the paper is weak in showing the depth of the land dispossession and makes a number of incorrect evaluations in relation to the historical facts, it is very valuable in showing the economic instruments used for the VOC in particular and later as foundation for the British government to plunder African land and resources and effectively engage in a crime against humanity against Africans. From an economic perspective when one takes a graph developed with data showing the ‘Loan Farm’ distribution of the VOC, that data graph co-relates to the extension by wars of the colonial boundaries. This is proof enough that the land was stolen by the Europeans through conquest and that the farmers benefitted (and their descendants) and the VOC, Dutch Crown, Dutch state and the British government and Crown too.


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