‘GOD HAS TAKEN POWER FROM WHITE MEN THROUGHOUT
EARLY on the morning of 5 September 1906, at a small asbestos mine in
northern Cape, six African workers entered the tent of their white foreman
and his family. They assaulted the sleepers with stones, knobkerries, the
of a chair and an ox-yoke. The foreman, Dirk Mans, died of his injuries
eighteen hours later, while his son, Jan, who had been sleeping in another
tent, ran away. Dirk Mans's wife also had a narrow escape. She woke
when a blow narrowly missed the head of her three-year-old child, who was
sleeping in her bed. Both could flee in the general mêlée.
Another victim, the
well digger, William Swanepoel, was bludgeoned to death so ferociously
his skull ‘was entirely knocked out of shape [and]
separated in halves’. The
perpetrators tried to kill more whites, but dispersed in the ensuing confusion.
The six men were tracked down by the police after several days. The
Griqualand West Supreme Court in Kimberley sentenced four of the
culprits to death; they were hanged in March 1907.
The ringleader of the Hopefield gang, Hendrik Bekeer, told the policeman
who had followed his tracks for several days, that ‘he was glad to
although he knew that his life would be at an end’. He could hardly
tell the prison warder that the group had planned to kill all whites in
Africa. In court, the eloquent Bekeer explained:
I admit that I am guilty. I, Hendrik Bikier [sic],
laid hands on these two souls. I
have a craving in my heart which must be made known to everyone. I admit
I am a worker of God. I confess to the Court and all the white people that
placed here by the Lord, and that I do his will. … The time when
the whites had
the upper hand is past. This is for Africa alone, but God has taken power
white men throughout the world.