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Seepapitso captures Pienaar



Publishing Date : 27 November, 2018

JEFF RAMSAY
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA


This weekend coincides with centenary of the end of the First World War in Africa. On November 25th 1918, a full two weeks after the guns fell silent in Europe, the nearly all black army of German General Lettow-Vorbeck finally surrendered to the British in Zambia.


No armed conflict had a greater impact on Africa than the First World War, which was accompanied by fighting across every corner of our continent, including Botswana. It was at Segwagwa, in the Southern District that another important surrender place on New Year’s Day of 1915; a Bangwaketse victory that brought an end to the ‘Maritz Rebellion’ Following the August 1914 outbreak of the War in Europe, the South Africa Prime Minister, General Louis Botha, agreed to invade German South-West Africa, today’s Namibia.


South African troops were thus mobilized along the Namibian border. The army’s deputy commander, Col Manie Maritz, however, turned the tables by allying himself with the Germans, while issuing a proclamation on behalf of a ‘provisional government’ affirming that "the former South African Republic and Orange Free State as well as the Cape Province and Natal are proclaimed free from British control."


Still bitter about their defeat in the 1899-1902 South African War, many Boers were unwilling to side with Britain against Germany. In this context Generals Beyers, De Wet, and Kemp joined Maritz in taking up arms against Botha’s pro-British administration. A loyalist force numbering 32,000 under Botha’s direct command was mobilized to crush the rebellion. Following Maritz footsteps, De Wet fled into Bechuanaland seeking to link up with the Germans in Namibia, but was captured. Kemp however succeeded in taking his commando across the Kgalagadi, in the process losing 300 out of 800 men.


On Boxing Day 1914 remnants of Beyer's force, now under the command of Col Ben Pienaar entered Gamalete in an attempt to also cross the Kgalagadi. Alerted to their presence, Kgosi Seepapitso mobilised and personally led a force of several hundred mounted men armed with Martini-Henry rifles. Thus it was that Pienaar’s commando were surrounded and taken prisoner by Bangwaketse mephato.

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