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TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 20 JUNE

UPDATED: 20/06/2019

20 June 1882, St Mary’s Catholic school for boys opens on Currey Street.
20 June 1884, George Stanley, the first white man to be executed in 
Kimberley, hanged at the Transvaal Road gaol together with Samuel Trott.
20 June 1895, The Ladies Home on Lennox Street opens.
20 June 1961, Yorkshire Cricket Club formally constituted in Greenpoint.

DID YOU KNOW

St Mary’s School for boys – the predecessor of St Patrick’s Christian Brothers’ College – from the “Diamond Fields Advertiser” of 24 June 1882. (It would take another 15 years before the Irish Christian Brothers’ opened their College on 8 September 1897 on Dutoitspan Road.)

“A Banquet was given at the inauguration of the new school for boys, at St Mary’s Hall, Currey Street, in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. The new hall is substantially built of burnt brick, and is well ventilated and commodious. The building appears not only very suitable for the special purpose for which it was planned, but, having a good stage, is also well adapted for concerts and theatrical performances – should the Roman Catholics not be above such vanities of human life.

PT-Father_Hilaire_Lenoir-1882

Father Hilaire Lenoir

“The new building occupies the site where the old chapel formerly stood, and will comfortably accommodate 400 people. Its object, as shown by our report of the speech by Father Lenoir, is to make a school for boys, and a kind of institute for young men. There is plenty of room in Kimberley for a building in which our youth can be educated, whether it be by Roman Catholics or by any other denomination, and we cordially hope that in the new school a sound education may be imparted to the rising generation.

“The banquet was admirably catered for by the ladies of the congregation, to whom great credit is due for the success of the entertainment.

“There were no set speeches, but at the conclusion of the dinner Father [Hilaire] Lenoir [OMI] said that he was very happy to see so many present, who had come to help what he hoped was a good cause – the cause of education. They had a young ladies’ school, but no school for boys, and so it was absolutely necessary to build something for them. They had built a place that would also be available for the purpose of general meetings, and he hoped some day to have a public examination of the school children in that room. They would have a young men’s society, debating classes and lectures, and he hoped that the young men would come and take that opportunity of improving themselves.

“There were a great number of children in Kimberley who ought to attend school but did not do so, and he thought the reason was that as soon as they could earn a little money they were sent out to work. If they were to make their fortunes he would still pity them were they allowed to grow up without education. A great many fortunes were gained, and also lost; but if they could get a sound education it would be a treasure which would always help them in life against the reverses of fortune. He had got up the banquet, which was to help the school by means of the contributions of his hearers.”

UPDATED: 20/06/2017

20 June 1884, George Stanley, the first white man to be executed in Kimberley, hanged at the Transvaal Road gaol together with Samuel Trott.
20 June 1895, The Ladies Home on Lennox Street opens.

DID YOU KNOW

There was tremendous excitement in all four mining camps on Tuesday 11 March 1884 when it was learnt that there had been a murder the previous evening in the “New Township” of Beaconsfield , a man having killed his estranged wife by shooting her with a borrowed revolver.

George Albert Stanley (alias George A Sleep), who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was destined to become the first “white” person to hang in Griqualand West. He had been separated from his wife Christina Johanna Stanley for three months when they decided to get together for a dance that Tuesday evening at “The Miner’s Retreat”. Christina, together with their two children, had left her husband, an engine driver for the Bultfontein Diamond Mining Company, because she had been stabbed after a quarrel. The dance was the first time they had got together since the incident.

When they had separated Christina had said to her husband: “…if you let me be I shall let you alone…if you support the children, I shall never bother you.”

The dance at “The Miner’s Retreat”, an unoccupied boarding house, was an impromptu but organised affair where coffee, lemonade and soda was for sale, but where there was beer and spirits for friends of the organisers. The admission fee charged was 7 shillings and sixpence per person.

After the dance was over, Stanley accompanied his wife to her room in a house where several other people also lived, and who had gone with her to the dance. Stanley then left the house for a few minutes, collected a revolver he had borrowed and hidden in his house, and when he returned, they had not been long in her partitioned room when a shot rang out and Christina fell against the partition. Then there was another shot.

Two men in close proximity, A.A.Vaughan and Joseph Byfield, made for the room where they had heard the two shots and met up with Stanley in the passage. Byfield caught Stanley and Vaughan made for Christina.

When the second shot was fired Christina was heard to exclaim “O, Heere God”, and while staggering to her feet her last words were that she must “go and see to poor Chrissie”, her young daughter.

Christina had been mortally wounded by a bullet just under the left breast, and died before medical assistance could be obtained.

Stanley, upon being caught, threw the revolver between Byfield’s legs and said: “The revolver’s loaded. I have done it! I have done it! Shoot me now!”

The two men released Stanley, but only on condition that he give himself up to the relevant authorities.

The Resident Magistrate, together with Sub Inspector Robinson, were both called to the house where they examined the body of the unfortunate Christina, and a warrant of arrest for murder was immediately issued in the name of George Stanley. Stanley had not given himself up as promised and he was arrested as he walked past the Kimberley Club on Dutoitspan Road on 11 March.

Christina’s body was identified in the mortuary by her brother and brother-in-law Joseph Daniels and Antonie Gosision respectively.

The trial by jury was a short, sharp affair where the prosecution attempted to show that it was a premeditated murder by a “cold-blooded, heartless” husband, who killed his wife without justification or provocation. There had been no excuse for taking away her life, said the Crown. Stanley’s defence counsel, on the other hand, said that the shooting of Christina had been an accident, and that when Stanley had gone out of the bedroom to visit the bathroom and returned, Christina had been holding the revolver and that in the struggle for the revolver, she had been shot accidentally.

The jury, after being urged by Mr Justice William Musgrove Hopley to consider the possibility of an accident, retired to consider their verdict and returned thirty minutes later, having found Stanley guilty of murder, but with a recommendation of mercy as they believed that the prisoner genuinely believed that his wife had been guilty of unfaithfulness.

When the judge then asked Stanley if he had anything to say before sentence of death was pronounced on him, the prisoner merely said: “I have no excuse” or “I have nothing to excuse”. It was difficult for the reporter to hear in the courtroom commotion.

Judge Hopley disagreed with the jury in regard in a call to mercy by referring the matter to the Governor of the Cape Colony to consider, and sentenced the convicted man to death by hanging. Just before donning the black cap, he told the prisoner that Stanley “deliberately and wickedly took away the life of this unhappy woman, your wife, whom it was your duty to protect and shield from harm”. Furthermore, the Judge added, he was but the minister and mouthpiece of the law and no matter how much he disliked sentencing people to death, it was the law and the law must take its course. He beseeched the prisoner to repent for the crime he had committed in the short span of life left to him, and to prepare for his fate.

Immediately after Judge Hopley’s sentence was delivered, court officials and police rushed to Stanley’s side as he had taken something from his pocket and stuck it in his mouth. The impression given was that he had taken poison, but it turned out to be a harmless piece of tobacco.

He was executed on 20 June 1884, at the Kimberley Gaol together with Samuel Trott.

As usual at Kimberley executions, there were immense crowds of people who gathered on the debris heaps and on buildings in order to see the gallows and the hanging.

20 June 1884, George Stanley, the first white man to be executed in Kimberley, hanged at the Transvaal Road gaol together with Samuel Trott.
20 June 1895, The Ladies Home on Lennox Street opens.

DID YOU KNOW

Saturday night appears to be the most popular night to commit murder. Perhaps because Saturday is, traditionally, the night when you can relax and let your hair down, enjoy the evening at home, or visit friend and have a party. At most functions, whether at home or in hotels, or plain picnics by the river, there is alcohol, and it is this easy access to alcoholic beverages coupled to relaxed inhibitions that appears to be the major cause in most murders. Greed, or perhaps the search for fortune, and jealousy over women, do appear to be close runners to alcoholic excess as alternate causes.

The night of Saturday 5 April 1884 was no different. In the African Number 1 Location, just off Transvaal Road (now Phakamile Mabija Road) on the very fringes of Kimberley and about a mile due west of the Gladstone cemetery, it would be a disagreement over monies due for looking after a dog that would see a young man die.

Danster, the accused in the murder of Jacob Jantjies, said that Jacob had asked him to keep his dog for him, but despite promising payment, had not handed over any money. He had been upset and had gone to the Jantjies’ hut in No 1 Location to discuss the non-payment about a week before the incident that led to the death of Jacob, and Andries Jantjies, Jacob’s father, had “struck me on the forehead” with a stick. He was, in his own words, “very angry”, and had returned on 5 April and had a fight with Jacob. “The old man is the cause of the accident. He set us to fight,” claimed Danster. The police, called to the scene of the crime, found young Jacob Jantjies body lying in the corner of the family hut, “his head battered to a pulp.”

Two sticks, known as knobkerries, were produced in the preparatory examination prior to trial in the Resident Magistrate’s Court, and shown to the Magistrate, George Bradshaw. Dr Otto, who examined the Jantjies’ body in the post mortem held on the day following the murder, said that he found “over the left eye an incised and contused wound three-quarters of an inch in length, extending to the bone. An inch above that, another wound of a similar character about half an inch in diameter. Immediately under the external wound about two ounces of congealed blood was found, which, in my opinion, was quite sufficient to cause death from compression of the brain. The wounds I have mentioned could have been caused by a blow with either of the sticks produced.” Danster, described as a “Hottentot” but more than likely a Griqua or San, was remanded in gaol on a charge of murder and appeared in court on 27 June 1884.

After a brief trial where he pleaded guilty on the lesser charge of culpable homicide, Danster, a man “of very short stature”, was sentenced to five years hard labour.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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