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UPDATED: 25/05/2023

25 May 1875, Police Constable Pieter Sam executed in Kimberley for murdering two prisoners. This is the first execution in Kimberley.
25 May 1893, Air Vice Marshal Sir Christopher Quintin Brand born in Beaconsfield.
25 May 1984, Sister Emma, Sister Henrietta and Mary Hirst Watkins re-interred in the grounds of St Cyprian’s Theatre.


Sir Christopher Quintin Brand

War hero born in Beaconsfield and educated at CBC

Air Vice Marshal Sir Christopher Joseph Quintin “Flossie” Brand KBE, DSO, MC, DFC, (25 May 1893 – 7 March 1968) was a senior officer of the British Royal Air Force. Christopher was born in Beaconsfield, Kimberley, to South African policeman, Inspector and Mrs ECJ Brand, and educated at Christian Brother’s College, Kimberley, and then later at Cambridge University.

When World War I began in 1914, Brand was a citizen force member (territorial) of the Witwatersrand Rifles, serving in German SWA where he was commissioned. After returning to South Africa from that campaign in 1915 he resigned and travelled to England, where after gaining his flight certificate (Number 2685) he was accepted into the Royal Flying Corps.

He was commissioned on 15 March 1916 and posted to 1 Squadron RFC. After combat in France he was then posted to 112 Squadron as a Flight Commander, and by July 1918 was Squadron Leader of 151 Squadron RAF. When the war ended he was posted to 44 Squadron RAF as their commanding officer.

A fighter ace, Brand had shot down four enemy planes at night, becoming the highest scoring RAF night fighter pilot of the First World War. In total he claimed 12 victories in 1917 and 1918; seven of which were victories with No 1 Squadron, four with 151 Squadron and one with 112 Squadron. (Some sources state 13 victories). For gallantry he was awarded the Military Cross (26 April 1917), the Distinguished Service Order (31 May 1918) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (15/16 September 1918).

In 1920, The Times of London offered a prize of £10 000 for the first pilot to fly from London to Cape Town. General Jan Smuts wanted South African aviators to blaze this trail, and subsequently authorised the purchase of a Vickers Vimy, G-UABA named Silver Queen at a cost of £4500. Pilots Lieutenant Colonel Pierre van Ryneveld (commander) and Captain Quintin Brand (co-pilot) formed the crew for the record-breaking flight. The crew left Brooklands England, on 4 February 1920, and landed safely at Heliopolis, but on the flight to Wadi Halfa, they were forced to land due to engine overheating with 80 miles still to go. A second Vimy was loaned to the pair by the RAF at Heliopolis. It was named Silver Queen II. In this second aircraft, the pair continued to Bulawayo in the then Southern Rhodesia where the aircraft was badly damaged when it crashed on takeoff. Van Ryneveld and Brand then borrowed an Airco DH9 to continue the journey to Cape Town. They were disqualified as winners but nevertheless the South African government awarded them £5000 each. Along with van Ryneveld, Brand was knighted in 1920 for his role in the record attempt.


Sir Christopher Quintin Brand

From 1925 to 1927, Sir Christopher became Senior Technical Officer, then Principal Technical Officer, at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. In 1929, he was posted to Abu Qir (Aboukir) Egypt, and later appointed Director-General of Aviation in Egypt from 1932 to 1936.

In World War II 1939-1945 he was the Air Officer Commanding No. 10 (Fighter) Group during the Battle of Britain, the group responsible for the defence of southwest England and South Wales. Air Marshal Brand enjoyed a good relationship with Air Marshals’ Park and Dowding, and frequently deployed his squadrons effectively to back up the efforts of Park’s No. 11 (Fighter) Group. Brand also supported the tactic of using small and rapidly deployed groups of fighters rather than the “Big Wings” favoured by Leigh-Mallory and others.

After retiring from the regular forces, Brand married Mildred Vaughan in 1943. He had been married to her sister Marie in 1920, but Marie had died in 1941. The first marriage to Marie had produced four children, two girls, Mary and Veronica, and two boys, Tony and John.

After World War II Sir Christopher and Lady Brand farmed in Surrey, England until January 1951 when they moved to Rhodesia, having bought 400 acres of land in the Old Umtali region along the Odzani River. This farm they named “Quo Vadis”, the main crop being grapes for table consumption.

A devout Roman Catholic, Brand died on 7 March 1968 a few weeks before his 75th birthday.

He is buried in the Umtali cemetery, (now Mutare, Zimbabwe.)

(Condensed and compiled from a wide variety of sources).

UPDATED: 25/05/2021

25 May 1875, Police Constable Pieter Sam executed in Kimberley for murdering two prisoners. This is the first execution in Kimberley.
25 May 1893, Air Vice Marshal Sir Christopher Quintin-Brand born in Beaconsfield.
25 May 1984, Sister Emma, Sister Henrietta and Mary Hirst Watkins re-interred in the grounds of St Cyprian’s Theatre.

Police Constable executed for murder

The tale of the Zulu policeman turned murderer began in earnest when he walked into the Kimberley police camp on Tuesday, 24 November 1874 with quite a story. Zulu Constable Pieter Sam told the Clerk of Peace, Mr Scholtz, that he had shot dead two escaped convicts outside Kimberley, but Scholtz had doubts as to the truth of the statement and had Sam placed under arrest after finding two bodies in the veld outside Kimberley. The two dead men, Songanie (also spelt Zangani) and Tom, had both been shot, but the third prisoner, John Papazo, was missing. Pieter Sam had said that he had shot at him but did not know if he had hit him.

Some time later, the Superintendent of the Convict camp at Fourteen Streams, James Smith, arrived in Kimberley to question Sam, and to give his version of events that had happened, as Sam had been a constable in the police station at Fourteen Streams. Smith’s statement read that on Sunday 22 November, Smith saw Constable Sam, together with three convicts – Songanie, Tom, and John Papazo. At two o’clock that same afternoon, so said Smith, Sam was seen absconding from the station with the three prisoners, this being witnessed by two policemen, and had taken his blanket, Snider rifle and 11 rounds of ammunition. At this stage the charge was only desertion and Smith sent a posse of policemen after the group but they returned empty handed.

A witness, not named in the reports, stated that the three convicts had spoken about a box of money concealed between Kimberley town and the racecourse, and that Pieter Sam knew about this box. The Zulu constable had taken the three prisoners, who Sam himself had personally selected, down from the convict camp at Fourteen Streams to the nearby Vaal river to collect water, and they had crossed the river and made their way to Kimberley some seventy kilometres away. According to Sam the prisoners had then attempted to escape and he had shot dead two but one had made his getaway.

It transpired later that the missing convict, John Papazo, was reputedly the brother of Constable Pieter Sam and it was suspected that the group had found the tin of money, and that the two brothers had killed Songanie and Tom, while Papazo had made good his escape. Why Sam had come into the Kimberley camp no-one would ever know. Perhaps it was to clear his name, and indeed, he did say in his defence that after the three convicts had escaped from Fourteen Streams, he had followed their spoor to Kimberley, shot two dead near the Powder Magazine – Songanie at five yards and Tom at six yards – as they had been unwilling to be re-arrested. (Here, Scholtz stated that the murdered men were some five and eleven yards away from where Sam had fired at them). Sam told the court that he had lost three prisoners once before and on this occasion had been too scared to tell Superintendent Smith but instead chased after the convicts to recapture them, but that the chase had ended in the killing. The court did not agree with Constable Sam’s version of events and he was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to death. The execution was carried out on Tuesday 25 May in the Kimberley gaol on Transvaal Road, nearly six months later. The reason for the delay was that the scaffold had to be brought into Kimberley from Klipdrift (Barkly West), and that there was difficulty in finding a hangman. During the long delay between verdict and execution Sam tried to commit suicide but was thwarted by the gaoler on duty.

The prisoner knew that he had no chance of a reprieve and at 6am on the morning of his execution, he was visited by two African missionaries, the Reverends Gwayi Tyamzashe and Koshoop. He made a full confession to the two ministers and said that his sentence was just. At 6.40am the Gaoler handed him over to the Sheriff and the procession marched slowly to the gallows. Former Constable Sam said goodbye to all present, and thanked the prison officials for all their kindness during his stay in jail. At the foot of the gallows Sam knelt in prayer with the ministers, and then shook hands with the Reverend Gwayi after he had been escorted on to the “drop”. The hangman then proceeded with the execution.

The early hour of the execution ensured that there were very few spectators on the tailings and roof tops around the prison with its low walls, but “the few people outside could command a view of the prisoner when he was on the scaffold.”

Thus Pieter Sam was the first convicted murderer to hang in Kimberley and the second to be executed in the Griqualand West magisterial region. But what of John Papazo? Was he the brother of Sam? Did he make good his escape and did he have the money in the box? Did Sam kill Papazo elsewhere and hide the money? Perhaps there was no hidden box of money after all, and Sam had shot the men for lying, and the reason he came into the Kimberley camp was merely an amateurish attempt to get his job back? We will never know.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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