Assuredly something historically important happened in Kimberley on this day, but the information has not yet been found. The research continues…
Today in South Africa’s history the following occurred:
5 May 1897, Sir Alfred Milner arrives as Cape Governor.
5 May 1925, Afrikaans is declared an official language.
5 May 1984, Over 7000 people attend a rally in Pretoria to mark the foundation of the Afrikaner Volkswag.
5 May 2003, Walter Sisulu dies.
The policing of Kimberley and area in the 1870s
In the early days of the diamond fields, Nicholas Waterboer’s territory known as Griqualand West came under the protection, and indeed, was taken over by the British government. The rush of diggers looking for instant wealth saw settlements springing up all along the Vaal river and the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, based at Kenhardt under command of Captain Jackson, were ordered to the diggings to establish and maintain law and order until a permanent police force could be organized. This was complied with but it was only in September 1872 that a proclamation was issued to organize and regulate a police force for Griqualand West (including Kimberley). Many members of the same Frontier police became members of the first police force, including Inspectors McLean, McKenna and O’Connor.
On 26 May 1873 a mounted force was organized and named the Griqualand West Mounted Police. Just over a year later the entire force was re-arranged into the following categories: Mounted Police; Town Police (including detectives); Rural police; and the Convict Police (including gaolers, turnkeys, and special constables). Well-known law enforcers at the time were Inspectors G. Percy, O. Back, G. Back and G.R. Bradshaw. Major Maxwell was appointed the Inspector of Prisons.
In 1880 the mounted police were incorporated into the Cape Mounted Rifles, and later the police in the Cape Colony were organized into Districts, Kimberley becoming the HQ for Cape Police II, the patrol region stretching up to Mafikeng. On 1 January 1913, three years after the Union of the Cape, Orange Free State, Transvaal and Natal, the South African Police came into being.
The Detective Department, active from 1872, had John Larkin Fry as its Chief from 1872 until 1882 when he was re-appointed Chief. He served in that capacity for only three more years before being removed from his post in February 1885 for negligence in keeping the department’s books.
Police stations, including satellite stations, were the Headquarters in Transvaal Road, West End, Old De Beers (Gladstone), and Dutoitspan village (later Beaconsfield).
The normal effective strength of the force amounted to 56 officers and men in Kimberley, distributed at the four depots, responsible for the following duties: Barrack guard at each depot, 24 hour town patrols, Magistrate and Police court duties, High Court duty when in session, preservation of “peace and order within the district”, traveling in execution of warrants of arrest, searching for criminals, etc.
Executions in Kimberley were always held in the precincts of the Police Barracks on Transvaal Road, the first execution being held approximately on the corner of Roper Street and Transvaal Road (then known as Giddy Street), later executions up until 1892 took place over the road in the Barracks region now occupied by the Van Heerden buildings.
From 1892 executions were held at the Hull Street gaol complex, but by 1927 all executions had been moved to Pretoria Central prison where they occurred until capital punishment was outlawed in terms of the South African Constitution of 1996.
Pictured are some policemen in the 1890s.
Assuredly something historically important happened in Kimberley on this day, but the information has not yet been found. The research continues, but not at this very moment as we are all locked down and the research library is closed.
A few Harry O memories of Kimberley
Harry Oppenheimer’s earliest memories of Kimberley include going for rides from their Lodge Road residence in the pony trap with his brother Frank (who drowned in 1935) and the family maid, as well as the all too frequent mention of diamonds, and that his father was the Mayor of Kimberley.
Talking to The Sunday Times in 1973, he recalled that Kimberley was “a place that has always fascinated me. I was sent back to England to be educated and then when I joined my father in the business, he packed me off to Kimberley for a year to learn to sort diamonds.”
In fact, he rented a house in Egerton Road, a stones throw from 7 Lodge Road, but traveled by train on weekends to Johannesburg as Kimberley had little or no night life. During his time in Kimberley he went horse riding a lot and was frequently seen in the Kimberley Club.
“Kimberley is the only real diamond town in the world, in the sense that it produces diamonds as well as handles them. No other diamond mine anywhere has a big place like Kimberley to go with it – usually there is just a small community.
“It is still small enough to retain a village atmosphere, with everyone knowing everyone else and there is dignity in its buildings. The De Beers Headquarters still has old cast-ironwork around it. But the town is being improvised all the time, although for me that is rather sad. I suppose it is inevitable that it must start to lose its Wild West atmosphere…”
“Kimberley was famous for its great characters. The most outstanding personality of my early days was E.H. Farrer, the De Beers resident Director.”
Nothing found as yet for today. Research is ongoing.
DID YOU KNOW
St Alban’s Anglican Church was built on a section of the Old De Beers cemetery, Kimberley’s second oldest such burial ground. Dating from circa May 1871, the cemetery as such was filled with great rapidity and by the late 1870s had fallen into disrepair.
The boundaries of the graveyard were originally walled and were in the approximate position of where the hedge is today. In 1883 the Anglican community in the Gladstone/De Beers suburbs decided that church services should be held in the area rather than force the women and children to walk past the “throngs of natives more or less intoxicated” when attending services in Jones Street, where St Cyprians was then positioned. Services were held in the De Beers Mining Company offices (the former Gladstone School) until the church (known originally as the De Beers Church) was ready for services. The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop, Dr Bruce Knight on 3 October 1886 and within four months the nave, baptistery, porch and belfry were completed at a cost of £1040. The architects Stent and Hallach designed the church. The vestry was added in 1888 at a cost of £200. The sanctuary, chancel and southern transept were added in 1913, the last alterations or additions made. Historical artifacts within the church are the main chalice and patten set (donated by Sir Frederick Carrington), and two candlesticks in the side Chapel altar used during Cecil Rhodes’ funeral ceremony.