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Robert Sobukwe at the Digger's Memorial, Kimberley


UPDATED: 15/11/2019

15 November 1869, Bultfontein Mine bought by Lilienfeld, Webb and Hond.
15 November 1914, Robert G Kekewich commits suicide in England.
15 November 1977, Robert Sobukwe (pictured) returns to Kimberley after medical treatment in the Cape.
15 November 1982, 26 year old Jacobus Albertus van Zyl killed by lightning while serving with the Kimberley Commando at Schmidtsdrift.
15 November 2012, Sol Plaatje Speaker Vincent Diraditsile and Executive Mayor Agnes Ntlhangula open The Galeshewe SMME Village [Added by the webmaster]


Robert Sobukwe identified with the Africanists within the ANC and in 1957 left the ANC to become Editor of The Africanist. A year later he and others broke away from the ANC and formed the PAC. The Pan African Congress held its first conference in 1959 where he was elected President. The aim of that first congress was to get courteous treatment for Africans in shops.


Robert Sobukwe

As the President of the banned Pan African Congress (PAC), he was the first person against whom action was taken in terms of the General Laws Amendment Act and he served a three year prison sentence for leading the pass law demonstration on 21 March 1960 (Sharpeville Day). He had initiated the campaign by handing his pass to the police in Orlando and inviting arrest. On his release from that sentence – on 3 May 1963 – he was immediately re-arrested and sent to the infamous Robben Island where he spent six years in detention without trial. This law, which empowered the government to continue the detention of anyone found guilty of incitement became known as the “Sobukwe clause”.

He was kept in solitary confinement but permitted certain privileges including books, newspapers and his own clothes. (Between 1963 and his release cost the State some R70 000 to keep him prisoner).

In 1969 he was released from prison but sent to Kimberley to live in a restricted zone comprising the magisterial area, moving into a house in Naledi Street, Galeshewe. He was to stay home at night and in the magisterial district during the day. The reason he had been sent to Kimberley to live was so that he “should not live where he can with reasonable ease resume subversive activities.” Another reason given was that there should be an opportunity for him to live and work and lead as normal a life in so far as this was compatible with the safety of the state.

He turned down an offer of a job in the Bantu Administration Department in Kimberley but became articled to an attorney in Galeshewe. As he already had three degrees and various other diplomas he was only required to serve three years of article for his Lib degree. He was refused permission to leave the country in 1970 in order to attend Wisconsin University in the USA where he would have studied for a PhD in African Linguistics.

Professor Christian Barnard, the famous heart surgeon, had operated on him in September 1977 at Groote Schuur for a malignancy on the bronchus (adeno carcinoma), also known as lung cancer. Barnard had requested that the apartheid authorities release him from his banning order to allow him grace to live his last few months with his family but it was refused. Sobukwe returned to Kimberley on 15 November 1977 but was re-admitted to Groote Schuur on 5 January 1978.

UPDATED: 15/11/2017

15 November 1869, Bultfontein Mine bought by Lilienfeld, Webb and Hond.
15 November 1914, Robert G Kekewich commits suicide in England.
15 November 1977, Robert Sobukwe returns to Kimberley after medical treatment in the Cape.
15 November 1982, 26 year old Jacobus Albertus van Zyl killed by lightning while serving with the Kimberley Commando at Schmidtsdrift.


Major General Robert George Kekewich, CB (17 June 1854 – 5 November 1914) was a Victorian era British Army officer.
Kekewich was the second son of Trehawke Kekewich, of Peamore House, near Exeter, Devon, and the grandson of Samuel Trehawke Kekewich. He was also the brother of Sir Trehawke Herbert Kekewich, 1st Baronet and the nephew of the judge Sir Arthur Kekewich.


Major General Robert George Kekewich

He was educated at Marlborough, and entered the army through the militia in 1874, joining the Royal East Kent Regiment (the Buffs) on 2 December 1874. He fought in the Perak War of 1875-6, and in the Sudan, 1884-5, where he gained a brevet majority. He was employed as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General in the Sudan campaign of 1888, and afterwards as military secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, Madras, and was engaged in the operations in Burma, 1892-3.

He was promoted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and commanded the 1st Battalion of that regiment in the Anglo Boer War 1899-1902. He commanded the garrison during the successful defence of Kimberley, during which time he came into conflict with Cecil Rhodes, particularly after the death of Henry Scott-Turner on 28 November 1899. While based in Kimberley he resided in what is now Room Number 1 at the Kimberley Club.

In late September 1901 he was wounded in an attack by General de la Rey near Moedwil, but soon recuperated. He received the rank of brevet-colonel and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). In August 1902 he was specially promoted major general after winning the Battle of Rooiwal in April of that same year. He was appointed colonel of the Buffs on 5 October 1909.

On the outbreak of World War I in 1914 he was appointed to the 13th (Western) Division, which he commanded until his suicide, aged 60, on 5 November of that year. At the inquest it was stated that he suffered from suppressed gout, insomnia and an unsatisfactory state of the heart. He worried over being unable to serve his country and great waves of depression overcame him. The verdict ‘suicide whilst temporarily insane’ was returned.

He was buried in St Martin’s Churchyard, Exminster, Devon, England.

15 November 1869, Bultfontein Mine bought by Lilienfeld, Webb and Hond.
15 November 1914, Robert G Kekewich (pictured) commits suicide in England.
15 November 1977, Robert Sobukwe returns to Kimberley after medical treatment in the Cape.


The title deeds to the farm Bultfontein were granted by the British Government then controlling the Orange River Sovereignty, under Warden Certificate to J.F. Otto on 16 December 1848. This was the first farm to be settled by white Boers. Dorstfontein was granted by the Orange Free State Government to Abraham Paulus du Toit on 4 April 1860, while Vooruitzicht, formerly a portion of Bultfontein was sold to the brothers Diedrich Arnoldus and Johannes Nicolaas de Beer two weeks after he had received his title deeds, on 18 April 1860. Whether Otto sold the land is not known, but there are documents that suggest the Free State Government sold it to the De Beers brothers for £50. There are some discrepancies here as Alpheus Williams records that Vooruitzicht was sold on 27 December 1863 to the De Beers brothers.


Robert G Kekewich Tombstone

Bultfontein farm (mine) was purchased on Monday 15 November 1869 by the intrepid partnership of Leopold Lilienfeld, Henry Barlow Webb and Louis Hond. Philipson-Stow was working his claim on Bultfontein when it was purchased, in his words: “…by a syndicate of capitalists…”

By the beginning of December 1869 it had become quite common knowledge that the partnership had paid Cornelius du Plooy £2000 for his farm, Hond selling his one third share to Henry Webb, the ‘new’ partners now including Webb’s brother Edgar Eager, naming their partnership the Hopetown Company, forerunner of the London and South African Exploration Company. The first thing that the partnership did was to outlaw the diggings in progress, as they intended operating as a mining company rather than merely exercising control over a variety of diggers. This created a near riot among the diggers. Louis Hond, after selling his share, continued to trade in diamonds despite his withdrawal from the Bultfontein partnership.

There is quite an entertaining tale to be told about this purchase of Bultfontein farm and mine. The partners Lilienfeld, Webb and Hond had approached du Plooy on Monday 15 November 1869 in order to negotiate the purchase of the farm, only to find that he had sold out the previous day, Sunday 14 November, to Thomas Lynch who was later the owner of the Kimberley Waterworks Company. The three partners told du Plooy that as the sale to Lynch had been on the Lord’s Day (a Sunday), it was illegal, and after discussion, du Plooy agreed that it was indeed invalid and Lynch lost out. But du Plooy was not as simple as it is often made out in historical works as he only concluded the sale if an indemnity against any claims were made on him by Lynch.

However, in spite of this indemnity, du Plooy was taken to court by Lynch for £10 000 damages, and was forced to pay the judgment of £500 plus damages, and then had to sue Lilienfeld and partners. In light of the agreement with the partners, du Plooy was awarded £760 damages and the partners had to pay costs. A long drawn out case, this court action in determining the owners of Bultfontein was made on 12 February 1873. The Land Commission again heard the case and in 1876 they finally granted the title deed to the successors of the Hopetown Company, the London and South African Exploration Company.

Henry Webb, who became the resident Director of the London and South African Exploration Company based in Kimberley, was not only a landowner, but also a diamond buyer and a keen soldier, serving with the Dutoitspan Hussars as their commanding officer when it was formed in 1876.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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