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Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company shaft circa 1886 - at the Kimberley Mine (Big Hole)


UPDATE: 24/04/2024

24 April 1884, South Africa’s first industrial strike begins, by miners.
24 April 1941, Steam tram derails at Kenilworth terminus.

Pictured is the Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company shaft circa 1886 – at the Kimberley Mine (Big Hole).

White miners go on strike.
The white miners at all four Kimberley mines went on strike in April 1884 because they objected most strenuously to being stripped and searched for diamonds each day they finished their shifts. The searching for diamonds, with little or no respect to the individual’s dignity, had been instituted on the black miners ever since diamonds had been discovered in Kimberley – but never on the whites.

This strike, which started on 24 April 1884, spread to all the other mining companies operating in the four diamond mines – Kimberley, De Beers, Bultfontein and Dutoitspan – mainly because those who objected to being searched were instantly dismissed.

At least 300 were either on strike, “locked out” or dismissed at Kimberley Mine; 200-300 at De Beers; 300-400 at Dutoitspan Mine and 200 at Bultfontein Mine.

What made matters infinitely worse was that all vacancies were filled immediately by the mining companies.

24 April 1884, South Africa’s first industrial strike begins, by miners.
24 April 1941, Steam tram derails at Kenilworth terminus.


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.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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