oa Historia - Die koegasmoorde van 1878 en die implikasies daarvan vir die Kaapkolonie

Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The Koegas atrocities of 1878 and its implications for the Cape Colony. During the Second Northern Frontier War (1878-1879) burghers who were called up in service of the Colonial government shot and killed prisoners of war in cold blood on two occasions. Naturally these events caused a sensation and dismayed public as well as official circles. The Cape government therefore ordered an immediate investigation. After a long delay sufficient evidence was collected and the accused were brought to trial in the Circuit Court at Victoria West during September 1879. As public feelings in this area were strongly in favour of the accused, the responsible officials requested that the trial be moved to Cape Town. Attorney-General Thomas Upington refused, however, and as was expected all the accused, with the exception of the single Coloured, were found not guilty by the jury. This verdict had numerous repercussions. Newspapers such as The Cape Argus fiercely attacked the government and especially the Attorney-General, whereupon Upington sued the owner and editor of that newspaper for libel. Although the so-called Great Libel Case was found in favour of the complainant, the verdict was a moral victory for the accused and a defeat for Upington and the government. This court case in turn had several repercussions, while the situation as a whole badly damaged the image of the Cape Colony.

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