Slachter's Nek Rebellion

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Slachter's Nek Rebellion
Result Revolt suppressed
Boer Rebels  United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Johannes Bezuidenhout [1] United Kingdom Jacob Cuyler
~200[1] ~300
Casualties and losses
5 executed none

The Slachter's Nek Rebellion[a] was an uprising by Boers in 1815 on the eastern border of the Cape Colony.[3]


In 1815 a farmer from the eastern border of the Cape Colony, Frederik Bezuidenhout, was summoned to appear before a magistrate’s court after repeated allegations of mistreating one of his Khoi labourers. Bezuidenhout resisted arrest and fled to a cave near his home, where he defended himself against the Coloured soldiers sent to capture him. When he refused to surrender, he was shot dead by one of the soldiers.[4][1]

One of Bezuidenhout's brothers, Hans, swore revenge. Historians believe that the fact that Bezuidenhout was killed by a Coloured was the reason behind the fury of Hans and that of many others.


Hendrik Prinsloo, along with a neighbor Hans Bezuidenhout organised an uprising against the British colonial authority, which was believed, by the Boers (Afrikaner farmers) to be hostile towards themselves and to favour Blacks and Coloureds above the Afrikaner farmers. On 18 November a commando of rebels met an armed force sent by Colonel Jacob Cuyler, the military commander and Landdrost (magistrate) on the eastern borders, at Slachter’s Nek.

Negotiations failed, and the majority of the rebels left without any shots being fired. Twenty rebels surrendered, followed by several more over the following few days. However, some of the leaders, among whom was Hans Bezuidenhout, refused to turn themselves over to the authorities. On 29 November they were attacked by colonial troops. Everybody but Bezuidenhout and his family surrendered, and like his brother, Hans died while resisting arrest.[4]


The rebels were tried at Uitenhage.

Names of accused[5]
  • Hendrik Frederik Prinslo,[b]
  • Nicolaas Balthazar Prinslo, Marts-son,
  • Wiilem Jacobus Prinslo, Wm-son,
  • Nicolaas Prinslo, Wm-son,
  • Wiilem Prinslo, Ns-son,
  • Johannes Prinslo, M.son,
  • Willem Krugel,
  • Hendrik van der Nes,
  • Cornelis van der Nes,
  • Stoffel Rudolph Botha,
  • Wiilem Adriaan Nel,
  • Thomas Andries Dreyer,
  • Johannes Bronkhorst,
  • Hendrik Petrus Klopper,
  • Jacobus Klopper, and
  • Petrus Laurens Erasmus
  • Joachim Johaunes Prinslo and
  • Johannes Frederik Botha.
  • Hendrik Frederik Prinsloo[6][7]
  • Nicolaas Balthazar Prinsloo. (He tookpart in the Great Trek and was murdered with the van Rensburg trek party at Djindispruit, Limpopo River, Mozambique at the end of July 1836.[8])

Some were acquitted, but six of the rebels were sentenced to death, one of these was pardoned by the Governor. On 9 March 1816 the remaining five were hanged in public at Van Aardtspos. Four of the nooses broke during the procedure and the still living convicts, together with many spectators, pleaded for their lives, but the executioner ordered that they be hanged a second time.[4]

The rebellion and the consequent executions of the rebels has acquired special significance among contemporary South African historians as the beginning of Afrikaner struggle against British colonial rule.[9]


  1. ^ Slachter's Nek is the Dutch spelling. In Afrikaans the spelling is Slagtersnek. In both languages, the name translates to Butcher's Neck (Nek is used in several Afrikaans place names).[2]
  2. ^ The surname Prinslo is in fact spelt as Prinsloo.
  1. ^ a b c Patterson 2004, pp. 15-16.
  2. ^ Welsh, Frank (2000). A history of South Africa. HarperCollins. p. 123.
  3. ^ Potgieter 1971, pp. 655–656, Vol 9.
  4. ^ a b c The Slachters Nek Rebellion (1815-1816) at the Wayback Machine (archived 2005-12-16)
  5. ^ Leibbrandt 1902.
  6. ^ de Villiers & Pama 1966, p. 741.
  7. ^  . "Willem Petrus "Willem Spreeu" Prinsloo, (1791 - 1878)". Retrieved 2018-04-23.  
  8. ^ Visagie 2000, p. 406.
  9. ^ Potgieter 1971, p. 47, Vol 3.

Further reading[edit]