James Stuart.

A history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation online

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Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 18 of 52)
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of the mountain from a height of over 1,200 feet.

D. P. Huntei
Ketite's Drift

BAMBATA (oii the right)
with Attendant.


One of Dinuzulu's Attendants.


Chief; age 96 years.



The position at Nkandhla, between the 9th and the
16th, developed, from the Government's point of view, with
extraordinary rapidity. Owing to its great importance
and complexity, it will be well to consider it somewhat

The Commissioner arrived at Empandhleni from Usutu
at mid-day on the 9th, finding about thirty Z.M.R. and
fifty-four Krantzkop Reserves already there. The same
morning, rehable information came in from Sigananda
that Bambata was in the Mome gorge. There was then
no particular reason for supposing Sigananda was in
collusion with Bambata. The Commissioner accordingly
directed the former to try and induce Bambata to come
out of the forests and then to effect his capture ; faiUng
that, to attempt to starve him. At the time, there was a
general impression that when Bambata saw himself being
surrounded, he would fly to other parts. The various
Chiefs of Nkandhla district were, therefore, informed they
would be held responsible should he escape through any
of their wards. Under these circumstances, Mr. Saunders
did not think it advisable for more Mihtia to be sent to
Empandhleni. Having heard that Mansel was coming via
Middle Drift, he advised that the force should remain in
the neighbourhood of that drift in case Bambata should
attempt escaping that way. It, moreover, appeared to
him necessary for the Reserves and Z.M.R. to remain
at the magistracy, as it was just possible Bambata might
make a dash at that post, if undefended, to obtain arms
and food. The strength of the Z.M.R. rose to 105 by the
arrival, on the same day, of the headquarters squadron
from Eshowe.

At mid-day on the 10th, reports as to Bambata's
whereabouts were contradictory. Mr. Saunders was then
not at all satisfied with Sigananda's behaviour, feeling
that Bambata could by then have been captured had the
tribe acted in a bona-fide manner. He had strong sus-
picions the Chief and the tribe were playing a double

On the Krantzkop Reserves leaving the same morning,


the Commissioner recommended that the poHce at Middle
Drift should move to Empandhleni as soon as possible.

Later reports on the 10th went to show that Sigananda
and his people were professing to do their best to capture
the rebel ringleader, but the Commissioner considered a
day or two necessary to prove whether the people were
really in earnest. By this time, all the other tribes in
the district were under arms and watching their respective
wards as directed.

The same evening Leuchars, having decided to abandon
operations at Mpanza, suggested to the Commandant the
mobilization of another force for the purpose of following
Bambata. On being consulted, the Commissioner ex-
pressed the view, on the 11th, that " nothing can be gained
at present by bringing a large white force here," nor would
mounted men or artillery be " of much use," owing to the
nature of the country. " With the Z.M.R. and Police
Force in the district, 1 do not think further white troops
are required at the present time." In consequence of this
advice, Leuchars was instructed by the Commandant to
remain in Greytown until the operations, then being carried
on by him in the thorns in the neighbourhood of Mpanza,
had been completed, after which he was to demobilize,
viz. on the 13th or 14th.

On the afternoon of the 12th, the Commissioner reported
that the forest was being driven by Sigananda' s people. He
was of the opinion that, although a strong force might be
necessary, the sending thereof should be resorted to only
after diplomatic measures had failed. It was on this day
that Mansel and his men arrived at Empandhleni.

On the 15th, Mr. Saunders pointed out that, unless
Sigananda accounted satisfactorily for Bambata and his
followers by the following night, there would be no doubt
that the tribe was in collusion with Bambata, and that it
would be necessary to take strong measures forthwith to
punish it. He agreed with Manse] and Vanderplank that,
if operations were to be conducted against Bambata, a
very much larger force than the one already there would
be required. He added that he was in constant touch with


Dinuzulu and had no reason for suspecting that Chief's
loyalty, or that he was assisting or encouraging Bambata.

The Commissioner reported on the 16th that he had
had no message from Sigananda for some days. The
messengers he had sent on the preceding day had returned
to say the Chief had nothing to report. It was at this
moment Mr. Saunders arrived at the conviction that
Sigananda was acting in concert with Bambata, and had
been deliberately harbouring him all along. He, there-
upon, dropped all further communication with the Chief,
and recommended strong measures being taken as soon as
possible to severely punish him and his tribe. This, how-
ever, it was added, could only be done by considerably
strengthening the European force and obtaining the
assistance of loyal Natives. He reiterated his belief that
Dinuzulu was not implicated in any way. At 6.15 p.m.,
information came in from different sources that Bambata,
with the assistance of Sigananda, intended to attack the
magistracy the same night. Sigananda had, by then, been
joined by portions of Ndube's, Mpumela's and Gayede's
tribes, the last-named a Natal Chief. At 7.30 p.m. the
situation was reported as still more serious, especially as
members of different tribes, including that of Siteku
(Dinuzulu's uncle) had joined Sigananda. It was felt a
large force should be sent up as speedily as possible to
reinforce the loyal levies and restore public confidence.
The rebel force estimated then to be at Nkandhla was 500
to 1,000.

As the supphes at Empandhleni appeared to be running
short,^ arrangements were promptly made by the Com-
mandant for the dispatch of a convoy of forty waggons
of provisions from Dundee, accompanied by an escort of
400 Natal Carbineers,^ and one section B Battery, Natal

iBesides 182 N.P., 92 Z.N.P., 106 Z.M.R. and 20 civilians, there were
30 women and children at Empandhleni.

2 This regiment got orders to mobilize on the 17th April. The orders
appHed to the Left Wing and 150 men of the headquarters squadrons
(Right Wing). The latter section (under Captain E. W. Barter), joined the
Left Wing at Dundee, the whole force being taken command of by Lt.-Col.
D. W. Mackay. The remainder of the Right Wing, with the exception
of D squadron, mobilized on the 1st May and proceeded to Helpmakaar


Field Artillery (Lieut. F. H. Acutt), under Lieut. -Col.
D. W. Mackay. Such force could not, however, leave
before the 20th.

The policy of calhng on Sigananda, unaided by European
troops, to arrest a well-armed body of desperadoes, ^ who
had succeeded in taking possession of the great local
stronghold, is not an easy one to defend, especially when
it is borne in mind that Natives in all parts of Natal and
Zululand had, for three or four months past, loudly com-
plained of the poll tax, many in Zululand having still to
pay. Only a fraction of what was due by Sigananda's
people had been collected. It was known the majority
considered it a tax that could not be borne in addition to
other obhgations. Moreover, the news of the Byrnetown
outbreak in February ; of the hostile demonstrations at
such places as Mapumulo, Umzinto, Mid-Illovo, Durban,
Pietermaritzburg, and at their own magistracy ; of
the movements of the Militia in the western and eastern
portions of Natal ; as well as of the successful assaults on
the Magistrate's party on the 3rd, and on the large body
of Pohce on the 4th, was all calculated to greatly unsettle
the Native mind.

It was well known that, according to Zulu law, anyone
harbouring a criminal was hable to the severest punish-
ment, especially if the offender were a rebel. The prin-
ciple of communal responsibiHty was appHed, as a matter
of course, by which the arrival of a stranger, reputed to
be a criminal, had to be reported to the next senior officer.
In this case, Bambata had gone, not to live at any par-
ticular kraal, but taken possession of the stronghold
universally acknowledged to be that of Sigananda and his
ancestors, and which fell well within the district assigned

under Lt.-Col. J. Weighton, who then took command of the regiment.
D squadron was mobilized in June, and, as will be seen later, accom-
panied B.M.R. first to Dimdee, then to Mapiunulo where, until the arrival
of Mackay's column early in July, they formed part of that of Leuchars.
The total strength of the regiment was 918 (all ranks), including special
service men, i.e. the largest volunteer corps Natal had ever placed in
the field,

^ Well armed, especially from Sigananda's point of view.


by Government for the occupation of that tribe. It,
therefore, devolved on that Chief to inform his Magistrate.
How he did this has already been seen. The attitude
assumed by the Magistrate, and soon affirmed and adopted
by the Commissioner, was that, as Bambata had taken
refuge in the forests, Sigananda himself became personally
responsible for his apprehension, notwithstanding that
the outlaw had arrived with about 150 men, who, on the
whole, were probably better armed, and known from
the outset to be better armed, than any local levies could
have been.

The order issued to Ndube, Mpumela and other Chiefs to
" assist " in arresting the ringleader would also appear to
have been wrong in principle, in the absence of arrange-
ments for a European officer or force to be present to take
charge of and support the levies. ^ After all, Bambata had
struck his blow, not at the black man, but at the white. It
was, therefore, the duty of the white man to at least assist
the levies, and especially Sigananda.

There was, indeed, no evidence of previous collusion
between Bambata and Sigananda. "At that time," wrote
the Commissioner, " there was no ground for suspecting
that Sigananda and his people would not loyally co-operate
in effecting Bambata's capture." ^ Later on, allegations
were made of Sigananda being in league with Dinuzulu,
and of Bambata having been directed by Dinuzulu to
start the RebelHon, but it must be remembered no one

^ The position, at the time, seems to have been this : As soon as
Bambata, fleeing from Mpanza, was known to have entered Zuhiland,
the local authorities applied the principle of communal responsibility,
under which every Chief and his adherents became bound to co-operate
with Government officials (if any) and one another in apprehending the
fugitive. No Government officials being available on the spot at the
outset, Chiefs were expected to assist one another. WHien, however,
instead of running from district to district, Bambata made for the
Nkandhla forests and there concealed and established himself, it de-
volved, imder Native law, on Sigananda to make the arrest if he could.
Mr. Saunders regarded this Chief as able to at least drive the rebels out
of the forests by a process of starvation. Hence, qualification of the
first order, by Chiefs in general being no longer reqmred to assist
Sigananda, but being held responsible merely for arresting Bambata
should he escape to or through their respective wards.

2 Commissioner for Native Affairs to Prime Minister, 28th April, 1906.
Cd. 3027, p. 32.



believed more implicitly in, and more staunchly and con-
sistently defended, Dinuzulu's loyalty than did Mr.
Saunders. When, on the 6th April, at Usutu kraal, he
informed Dinuzulu and his indunas of the attack on the
Police in Mpanza valley, he says " their frank demeanour
left no doubt in my mind that these expressions were
perfectly genuine, and that Dinuzulu and his people were
not in any way associated with Bambata and his doings." ^
Even under these circumstances, assuming Dinuzulu to
have been loyal, it is somewhat surprising to those who
know anything of Native character and the facts, to find
Sigananda and other Chiefs repeatedly pressed between
the 9th and 16th to arrest a man who, from a purely Native
point of view, had done no more than offer a vigorous
protest to paying a tax which every Native, throughout
the length and breadth of the country, also strongly

By 6.45 p.m. on the 9th, practically the whole of the
Zululand Mounted Rifles (105) had arrived at Empandhleni
— mobilized under the authority given by law in such
emergencies. This force was, on the 12th, increased to
about 350 by the arrival of the Natal Pohce and Nongqai
under Mansel.^ The latter assumed command on arrival,
and decided to remain in lager. All these men had assem-
bled for a purpose. What was that purpose if not to arrest
Bambata ? If Mansel's object was to ' contain ' the
enemy, can it be said that there was any ' containing '
between the 12th and 28th April (the day he moved to Fort
YoUand) with the enemy comfortably ensconced in a
forest and the Police as comfortably behind entangle-
ments eleven miles off at Empandhleni ?

Had Mansel, Vanderplank and van Rooyen been made
to converge simultaneously on Cetshwayo's grave from
Middle Drift, Fort Yolland and Empandhleni respectively,
which could have been effected before mid-day on the

1 Commissioner for Native Affairs to Prime ISIinister, 28tli April, 1906.
Col. 3027, p. 31.

2 Had van Rooyen's Reserves been retained, the aggregate would
have been over 400.


10th/ supplies being at the same time pushed forward from
Eshowe, and Sigananda's men ordered to assemble smartly
at the same spot, together with those of adjoining Chiefs —
McKenzie acted on these lines in Mveli's ward — or had
aggressive action been taken in some other form, as
advised at the time by van Rooyen, control would have
been taken of the situation ah initio, instead of, by merely
marking time, practically encouraged members of sur-
rounding tribes to rebel for fear of losing their stock through
not conforming to Dinuzulu's alleged plan. Had a force
established itself then at the grave, Bambata's men would
have had no chance against it in the open country of that
part. It was, subsequently, at the grave that a not much
larger body than the one referred to for over a month
defied a force at least three or four times its own strength,
and concluded by, almost single-handed, entrapping and
crushing it. Precautions could, at the same time, have
been taken to prevent Bambata gaining any small advan-
tage, which, exaggerated by the rebels, would have added
considerably to his prestige.

Assuming it to have been desirable for van Rooyen,
Vanderplank and Mansel to converge at the grave on the
10th or 11th, the order for such movement could not have
been issued by the Commandant without fuller informa-
tion than he then possessed, especially as the Commis-
sioner was of the view that no European troops other than
those already in Zululand were necessary at Nkandhla.

Had the troops converged as suggested, they might con-
ceivably have succeeded in suppressing the Rebellion and
saved the Colony over half a million of money, but to have
done this would have meant practically ignoring a spirit of
rebelliousness latent in many of the people, which might
only have broken out in some other form in the near future.

Among the rebels, the position developed as follows :
After Muntumuni had gone to report Bambata's arrival,

1 Van Rooyen and Vanderplank reached Empandhleni at 6 a.m. and
6.45 p.m. respectively on the 9th, whilst Mansel got to Middle Drift at
4.30 p.m. on the same day.


the latter, as has been stated, marched to the mouth of
Mome gorge and halted at the very kraal on and about
whose site, but two months later, he found his Thermo-
pylae. The force, having regaled itself, passed up the
gorge to the right side of the Mome stream near the water-
fall, where, entering a dense forest, it concealed itself and
proceeded to erect temporary shelters, known as ama-

It so happened that a European scout passed the same
day along the top of Nomangci and Dhlabe, with a view
to locating Bambata. He fell in with a resident Native,
who said that, when rounding up his stock in the vicinity
of the waterfall, he had come upon Bambata's party.
Later on, it became known that this man had communi-
cated information treated by Sigananda as secret ; ten
head of his cattle and one horse were thereupon seized by
the Chief. Two were slaughtered and the horse appro-
priated ; the rest of the stock was restored on his
joining the rebels. One of Sigananda' s own sons, too, who
had reported to the Commissioner Bambata's being in the
gorge, was fined and for some time detained as a

Sigananda, at this time, was still at Enhlweni kraal, not
a mile and a half from Bambata's camp. On the 9th,
fully aware that Bambata had taken refuge in the strong-
hold, he sent messengers to summon the more important
men of the tribe. About sixty assembled ; none of them
were armed. Sigananda called aside eight or nine of the
leading ones and informed them of Bambata's being in
the stronghold, adding that a messenger from Mangati
(present at time of spealdng), had reported that Mangati
had just been visited by Dinuzulu's messenger Cakijana,
who declared he had been directed to accompany Bambata
from Usutu and start a rebellion in Mpanza valley.
Cakijana had afterwards passed on to a neighbouring
Chief to try and persuade him to support Bambata.
Sigananda's sons asked what right anyone had to author-
ize an outlaw they had received no official communication
about to take refuge among them. They asked why, if


Dinuzulu had ordered Bambata to rebel, the latter did not
go to the man who had instigated him to do so. It
appeared to them, moreover, that secret messages had
passed between their father and Dinuzulu of which he had
advised no one, otherwise Bambata and party would not
have made direct for their district as they had done. One
of those present, however, observed, "Are you going to
take it on yourselves to refuse to have anything to do
with a ' girl ' who has come to engage herself to your
father ? " It soon became clear that Sigananda, notwith-
standing his report to the Magistrate, was siding with
Bambata, and was supported in that course by his con-
fidant and adviser Lunyana, the keeper of Cetshwayo's
grave. On someone declaring that the outlaw would bring
ruin upon their district, Sigananda observed, " Yes, then
some of you will have to die and leave your wives behind


No time was now lost by Sigananda in dispatching
messengers to all parts of his ward, calling on the people
to arm and bring their blankets with them. Notwith-
standing further remonstrance on the following day (10th),
Sigananda persisted in the course he had entered upon.
He reproached those of his tribe, who, in 1888, when called
on by the Government to attack Dinuzulu, had complied,
whilst the majority remained loyal to the Zulu House.

On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Bambata lay con-
cealed in the forest, but on Tuesday night, he emerged and
openly joined those of Sigananda's tribe who had armed
and assembled at Enhlweni in obedience to their Chief's
orders, including a few from Mpumela's and Ndube's
tribes. At this moment, however, a number of Siga-
nanda's and Ndube's men broke away with their families
and stock, disapproving of what was being done. It thus
became noised abroad, far and wide, before dawn that
Sigananda had openly thrown in his lot with the rebels.

Identification of his fortunes with those of Bambata
had, however, still to be announced in a pubUc manner.
Bambata moved during the night, with his own two com-
panies and such other rebels as remained, to the top of the


ridge behind Enhlweni. Many others arrived at this spot
on the follomng morning from various parts until, about
noon, the force was about 500 to 600. Nothing of special
note seems to have occurred before noon, except that
Sigananda sat openly alongside of, and conversed with,
Bambata and the other ringleader Mangati. Bambata, a
man of about 40 years of age, of dark complexion, with a
rather tall athletic frame, wore a dark coat and trousers,
boots, and a Natal Police (European) helmet, no doubt
belonging to one of the men killed on the preceding Wed-
nesday. A large ammunition belt was buckled round his
waist, with a bandoHer containing cartridges over the
right shoulder. He also carried a modem rifle.

His men, of comparatively small build, dark and thick-
set, had for the most part, white ostrich feathers in their
hair, plucked from a European-owned bird wilfully done
to death by them in their ward just before their flight.
They wore the ordinary Native attire, including tsJiokobezi
badges, 1 and each carried assegais, together with a large
ox-hide shield. In their possession were eight guns, viz. :
three magazine rifles, one Martini-Henry rifle, one double-
barrelled gun, and three old muskets.

A black and white cow was soon observed being driven
forward. This was presented to Bambata. The signifi-
cance of the gift was that the Chief, acting on behalf of
the tribe, regarded Bambata as a friend and desired to
extend hospitality to him in the manner most approved
by Native custom. It was now arranged that one of Bam-
bata's men should shoot it. Two shots were fired, but the
animal remained unharmed. Indeed, it had been inti-
mated beforehand to those near by that, although fired
at, the beast, because of having been charmed by Bambata,
would not fall until Bambata himself had fired. True

^ These were simply the bushy part of ox- or cow-tails of white hair
or white and red mixed, with the skin cut so as to enable them to be
bound round the head. They were arranged so as to stand erect, lie
on the head (front to back), or fall from the back part of the head on to
the neck. They were also tied round the neck so as to hang down the
back. No one was required to wear more than one. As the wearers
ran, the ' tails ' continually bobbed up and down, — done possibly with
the object of inspiring the enemy with fear.


enough, on his taking the rifle and firing, it dropped dead,
and rolled down the incline on which it had been standing.
"A marvel ! a mystery ! " remarked the surprised on-
lookers. " Clearly Bambata must be in possession of some
wonderful charm ! " ^ The animal was now skinned and
consumed by the men from Mpanza.

Two messengers, who had been sent by Sigananda to
the Commissioner, now arrived on the scene. They were
taken aside by the Chief with a few others, when one of
them reported that Mr. Saunders, on hearing of Siga-
nanda's inability to find Bambata, had said he would not
keep on sending messages, as it was absurd to suppose the
outlaw's whereabouts could not be ascertained ; he was
known to have come into the midst of kraals, whose
occupants, having feet, could detect with ease a track
made by a couple of men, how much more that by a
hundred, as well as a couple of horses ! ^ The Com-
missioner had also alluded to an upstart, Sitimela ; to this
man reference will be made further on.

All were now directed to move towards where Sigananda
and his party were sitting, and there " to march together
through one gate." This, however, was merely a meta-
phorical expression, there being no actual gate at the
place. The expression had reference, as everyone at once
guessed, to certain two Basuto doctors engaged, not many
yards off, in preparing decoctions of various drugs called
izintelezi.^ The meaning was that the men were all to
walk past the doctors for the purpose of being treated in
accordance with custom, in anticipation of coming war-
fare. There was a small fire close by, from which a large
amount of smoke was ascending. The smoke was caused
by green branches and leaves being burnt with a fatty
substance thrown in by the medicos. The order was that
Bambata's men should move off first in twos, followed by

^ The explanation is that blank cartridges were used for the first two

- Bambata and at least one of his men rode horses.

^ Charms for warding off evil. Different ones are used according to
the character of the evil to be averted.


Ndube's and Sigananda's men in like formation. When the

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 18 of 52)