oa Historia - Die regstelsel en die Republiek van Natalia, 1838-1845
|Article Title||Die regstelsel en die Republiek van Natalia, 1838-1845|
|© Publisher:||Historical Association of South Africa (HASA)|
|Affiliations||1 Durban Teachers' Training College|
|Publication Date||Nov 1989|
|Pages||32 - 48|
|Keyword(s)||History, Legal systems, Republic of Natalia and Voortrekkers|
The legal system in the Republic of Natalia, 1838-1845. According to Professor D. Pont law is as old as mankind itself. As soon as people are united, no matter how small the community might be, certain regulations are laid down which order people's behaviour towards one another. This statement applies to a certain extent to the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony and eventually settled in Natal. When the Potgieter trek and Maritz trek united at Thaba Nchu in December 1836, one of the first things they did was not only to elect a government, but also to make provision for a legal system. This was further extended in April 183 7 when the Retief trek arrived at Thaba Nchu. In doing so, they relied on the legal systems which were known to them since the days of the Dutch East India Company (1652-1795), of the Batavian Republic period (1803-1806) and the British legal systems of 1827 and 1834. When the Trekkers arrived in Natal, in spite of hardships brought about by the massacre of Retief and his men on 6 February 1838 at Mgungundlovo and the great massacre during the night of 16-17 February 1838 at the Blaauwkrantz and Boesmans rivers, the Voortrekkers continued not only to improve their government, but also their legal system. After victory was assured over Dingane and the Voortrekkers had settled in Natal, the legal system was improved further in spite of the fact that the Republic of Natalia existed only for a few years. Besides the Volksraad, which was not only a legislative body but also the supreme court of appeal, the legal system included the College of Landdrost and Heemraden as courts of justice, and a jury. Provision was also made for the institution of messengers of the court, an interpreter, a translator, clerks, fieldcornets, wardens, police, and jailers.
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