1816: Five Boers for the Slachter’s Nek Rebellion

“All those who know anything of the history of South Africa,” writes Ian Colvin, “have heard of Slachter’s Nek. (English Wikipedia entry | the more detailed Afrikaans)

“The very name has something of evil omen about it, and it is the gallows-tree on which the ravens of discord have sat and croaked ever since the five rebels were hanged in the memorable year of Waterloo.”

You’ve got to admit that a place like “Slachter’s Nek” (or Slagtersnek) definitely ought to be associated with a hanging. Luckily for this site, it is.

Though subsequently a grievance for the Dutch-descended Boers — a monument was erected in the hanged men’s honor on the centennial of their execution — this particular evil omen barely even registered when it came to British colonial disturbances.

A farmer, one Frederik Bezuidenhout, started the trouble by defying an order to appear in court for his maltreatment of a native; the Brits hunted him to a cave and killed him in a shootout.

This led to a very slightly wider spasm of resistance which one could very generously account “Quixotic”: a few dozen other Afrikaner farmers bent on driving out the “tyrants”, most of whom wisely threw in the towel when the tyrants’ military showed the colors. (With the literal boots-on-the-ground support of the colony’s preponderance of Dutch burghers.)

Thirty-nine stood trial, with a half-dozen death sentences meted out. In defiance of a widespread expectation of clemency, only one was spared.

Four of the five hanging ropes broke. Still no reprieve: fresh nooses were procured.