The Reminiscences of Sir Walter Stanford
Volume I: 1850–1885
Volume II: 1885–1929

The Native Affairs Department

Sir Walter Stanford served for many years in the Native Affairs Department of the Cape Colony, retiring in 1907, when he began to write his memoirs. The first volume describes his youth, education at Lovedale College and his work in the Native Affairs Department during the 1870s, concluding with the Cape Native Laws and Customs Commission in 1881–3. Stanford’s second volume records his life in Pondoland as chief magistrate, up to its annexation, the impact of the South African War, the creation of Ndabeni, Cape Town’s first location and the Native Affairs Commission of 1904.

Stanford as a young man

warnings of intended treachery reached the magistrates but the meeting passed over without any overt act. The conduct of Makwaai’s men however was such that Mr. Brownlee was satisfied of their intention to rebel.

Following on the meeting traders were warned to leave the district. In doing so they were not personally molested but their stores were looted. On the evening of the 3rd October Ramhlagwana warned Mr. Brownlee that an attack on Mooiterie’s Kop had been arranged for that night. Ramhlagwana’s son Stampi and his brother Umsi were in the plot. On this information Mr. Brownlee and the officers with him put up defences and this becoming known the attack was deferred. On the morning of the 4th it was decided that Mr. Brownlee and party should return to Kokstad and Liefeldt [with] his clerk Austin fall back on the Fingo locations southward where later he successfully organised a defensive force. Ramhlagwana and his brother Sili with fifty armed men met the chief magistrate as he approached the border of his location.

The hostile Basuto, some four hundred strong, who were threatening a flank attack from the right, fell back on observing this movement. For about five miles Ramhlagwana kept with Mr. Brownlee and then turned homeward. The Umizimvubu drift was not far off when some mounted Basuto galloped forward to intercept the chief magistrate. These were checked and at the river a force of thirty Europeans and one hundred natives thoughtfully sent forward from Kokstad by Mr. J. T. Wylde, then Magistrate of the Mount Currie district, was found.

A laager had been formed by farmers from the neighbourhood near this drift and, leaving Commandant Strachan in control, Mr. Brownlee proceeded to Kokstad and energetically entered upon the task of organising such forces as were available to meet the emergency.

For an hour after Mr. Brownlee’s departure from Mooiterie’s Kop Liefeldt and Austin waited there with sixty loyal Fingos of the Hlubi tribe. The treacherous petty chief Umsi with about forty Basuto were also there. After the interval mentioned Liefeldt dashed out on horseback with Austin and got through to the location of the chief Ludidi and other Fingo headmen on the Kenigha River. The people there were in a state of panic, but the presence of their magistrate restored confidence and [they] faced the Basuto, who were already devastating the country around. The sixty Fingos who were at Mooiterie’s Kop belonged to three locations. They were suffered to depart with their arms by the Basuto headman, Sekaki, but were afterwards attacked and lost eleven men in cutting their way through the Basuto.

Umhlonhlo now came forward as the friend of the Government. He sent a congratulatory message to Mr. Brownlee and expressed readiness to take the field with his men under [the] command of the magistrate. Umhlonhlo’s loyalty in this critical time would have been very valuable to the country and it was even suggested that his well-known influence with the Bathlokoa chief, Lindingwana, might be used to detach that chief from the rebel Basuto with whom he was rightly suspected of being in sympathy.

It was not without grave misgivings that the experienced Chief Magistrate accepted the offer of Umhlonhlo made through his magistrate. But Hope was confident and the issues at stake were very important. So, accompanied by Umhlonhlo, Hope attended a preliminary meeting at Hlankomo (Chevy Chase) and then proceeded to Maclear. Here he met the magistrates of Maclear and Tsolo, Thomson and Welsh. Umhlonhlo and Lindingwana played their parts with consummate skill. ‘They were children of the Government.’ In reality Lindingwana was pressing Umhlonhlo to begin operations then and there by the murder of the three magistrates. In fact they had the magistrates at their mercy. Umhlonhlo refused. He had been promised arms and ammunition for his men, and until these were secured he would not move. Thus the meeting broke up with protestations of friendship and loyalty from these two chiefs.

Hope and Welsh returned to their respective magistracies. Meanwhile the Chief Magistrate had rapidly got forces together and, with these, Commandant Strachan attacked Makwaai, Sekaki and other Basuto leaders driving them and their adherents