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Cornelis Frederik Bezuidenhout was a frontier farmer in the eastern Cape Colony whose death in a skirmish with Hottentot soldiers, who had been sent to arrest him, was the origin of the Slagtersnek Rebellion which reached its dramatic final on 9 March 1816 under the gallows at Van Aardspos, twelve miles south of Slagtersnek.
Life and death
Cornelis Frederik Bezuidenhout, known by the nickname Freek, was the fifth of seven children of Wynand Jacobus Bezuidenhout, a burgher of Graaff-Reinet, and his wife, Maria Terblans, a descendant of Wynand Leendertsz Bezuidenhout, of the Netherlands, master gardener at the Cape, and his wife, Jannetje Gerrits, of Amsterdam.
He was said to know no fear, to be full of self-confidence and decidedly arrogant and quick-tempered.
As a result of his views on public affairs he came into conflict with the authorities. Unrest on the eastern frontier, caused by conflicts with the Xhosa, increased the tension, especially after the Black Circuit in 1812.
Bezuidenhout was generally known as a difficult man; he was accused by his servant, Booi, of ill-treatment and of holding back his pay due to a theft accusation against Booi.
He was summoned to appear before the court at Graaff-Reinet. At first he sent poor excuses for his absence; but eventually defied the court's orders.
As a result, he was sentenced in his absence by a circuit court for contempt of court to a month's imprisonment. An order for his arrest was issued and landdrost Andries Stockenström of Graaff-Reinet instructed the Deputy-Messenger of the Court to carry out the order.
Receiving no help from the Field Cornet of the ward, he proceeded to the nearest military post, commanded by Captain Andrews armed with a letter asked for military assistance. While Bezuidenhout was preparing to resist, by force, his arrest, Lieutenant F Rousseau accompanied the Deputy-Messenger with a patrol of twelve Khoikhoi soldiers.
He was confronted at the Baviaans River (the present Glen Lynden) on 16 October 1815. Bezuidenhout refused to surrender and fired on the soldiers. With his half-breed son and a casual visitor, Jacob Erasmus, sought refuge amongst the tumbled rocks of the nearby valley. He would not listen to reason and recommenced firing until he was mortally wounded by the soldiers returning the fire. His son and Erasmus, who took no part in the action, surrendered.
Bezuidenhout was buried on the farm the next day by his relatives.
There is no certainty about Bezuidenhout's wife or children, apart from one son, Gerrit Coenraad Bezuidenhout (1790-1838).
The cave in which Bezuidenhout died, and also his grave, are at Silverbrook farm, the present Glen Lynden in the Eastern Cape. The Dutch Reformed Church and the local Reddingsdaadbond  erected an obelisk of red dolerite at the cave and a granite rock at the grave. These two memorials are about 200 yards apart on the road between Bedford and Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape province.
He incited the whole community to resistance against British authority. He believed that his decision to chase the British and the Khoikhoi into the sea and to establish an independent state on the eastern frontier coincided with the wishes of all the burghers. About sixty burghers took an oath of vengeance and loyalty and took part in what became known as the Slachter's Nek Rebellion.
The Slachter's Nek Rebellion was an uprising by Boers in 1815 on the eastern border of the Cape Colony. The rebellion, which was small and local, was handled so badly that it acquired importance as an incident in the struggle of Afrikanerdom against British domination.
- "Bezuidenhout, Johannes Jurgen". Dictionary of South African Biography II. Human Sciences Research Council. 1983. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-624-00369-8.
- "Bezuidenhout, Cornelis Frederik". Dictionary of South African Biography II. Human Sciences Research Council. 1983. p. 59. ISBN 0-624-00369-8.
- "Slachter's Nek Rebellion". Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa 9. Human Sciences Research Council. pp. 655–656.
- "Cape of Good Hope". Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa 3. Human Sciences Research Council. p. 47.
- Macmillian, William Miller (1970). The Road to Self-rule: A Study in Colonial Evolution. Ayer Publishing. p. 296. ISBN 0-8369-5608-7.
- This Day in History
- HCV LEIBBRANDT (ed.), The rebellion of 1815. Generally known as Slachtersnek. Cape Town, 1902
- GE CORY, The rise of South Africa, v.1. London, 1921
- CJ UYS, 'Slagtersnek: verdraaide beelde van 'n grusame gebeurtenis', Die Landstem, 28 November1964
- JA HEESE, 'Die Bezuidenhouts van Slagtersnek', Familia, 1965/6, no. 4.