09 JANUARY 1873, Lt-Governor Richard Southey (pictured) takes up his appointment for Griqualand West.
09 JANUARY 1914, Unknown Chinese storekeeper murdered in his shop on Maude Street.
A PLACE OF TRAGEDY IN KIMBERLEY
It has often been said that certain houses, sections of roads, or even farms, appear to attract dramatic events throughout history. Dronfield farm, a mere 10 kilometres outside of Kimberley, is one such troubled spot, with two battles, a train accident, and myriad car accidents causing much tragedy and sorrow to many families since the discovery of diamonds. Another such place is the corner of Maude and Cemetery streets. Here, two very young children died in a fire in the 1880s which destroyed the house, while again, in 1914, a Chinese storekeeper was murdered on the very same spot.
At three o’clock on the afternoon of Friday 9 January 1914 a woman proceeded to the corner shop owned by the Chinese man to buy certain purchases. Upon arrival she found the door closed, but not locked. She entered the shop, thinking that the closure of the door was unusual, but found no one to serve her. She did peer over the counter and to her horror saw the body of the storekeeper lying in a pool of his own blood.
The woman ran to the Charge Office at the Transvaal Road police station – a mere two hundred metres away – and Head Constable Fitzgerald, together with three detectives, were soon on the scene. (Transvaal Road is now Phakamile Mabija Road).
There had been no apparent struggle – the storekeeper had been bludgeoned twice on the head and had dropped down dead in the place where the woman had found the body. He had been killed only a short time before the discovery of the body as the pool of blood had not yet congealed.
A young boy had gone to the shop minutes before the killing, it later transpired, wishing to purchase some sweets, and had found the shopkeeper arguing with three Black customers over some ginger beer. The storekeeper left the three to attend to the youngster’s order, and when the boy departed, the shopkeeper returned to the argument. It was shortly afterwards that the woman entered the store.
The crime had been committed so swiftly and quietly that the storekeeper’s assistant, a Black man fast asleep on the premises to the rear of the shop, had to be awakened by the detectives.
The till had been rifled and was empty. The body was removed to the mortuary for the post mortem.
A week later, on Saturday 17 January, another Chinese shopkeeper was attacked and robbed in his shop near Cohen’s slaughter poles (abattoir). Three Black men had attacked him in the same manner as the attack of the previous week. The police were quite excited about this development in the investigation as it suggested a modus operandi, but despite intense investigation, the murder of the Chinese storekeeper on Maude Street remains unsolved.