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SA cricketer Louis Stricker

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 26 MAY

UPDATED: 26/05/2017

26 May 1873, Formation of the Griqualand Mounted Police in Kimberley.
26 May 1884, SA cricketer Louis Stricker (pictured) born in Beaconsfield.

DID YOU KNOW

Louis Anthony Stricker, a former South African Test batsman, died at Rondebosch, Cape Town on February 5 1960, at the age of 75. He was born at Beaconsfield, Kimberley on May 26, 1884, and was educated at the Sacred Heart College (Observatory, Johannesburg). He represented Transvaal in domestic cricket, scoring an innings of 101 for them at Pretoria in 1909-10 against the M.C.C. touring side, when he and J. W. Zulch shared an opening stand of 215. A right hand batsman (and wicketkeeper), he played in four of the Tests against England that season, and was a member of the South African side in Australia in 1910-11. In his first match on Australian soil, against South Australia at Adelaide, he scored 146, and repeated this score in a minor match later on. He visited England in 1912, when he took part in the Triangular Tournament, but he had only a moderate tour, his highest score being 99 against Hampshire at Bournemouth. Altogether he played in 13 Tests for South Africa and scored 342 runs at an average of 14.25.

26 May 1873, Formation of the Griqualand Mounted Police in Kimberley.
26 May 1884, SA cricketer Louis Stricker (pictured) born in Beaconsfield.

DID YOU KNOW

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. (Transvaal Road is now Phakamile Mabija Road). 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 Tyamzashe 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.

There is an interesting postscript to this story. The Hangman, named only as a seafaring gentleman, “has almost been a constant inmate of Kimberley Gaol for months past”, and “later in the day, the amateur hangman, having obtained his release and the reward of his labour went celebrating the event through the canteens of the township.” As he slipped into drunkenness he bragged about his temporary job of the early morning, got into a fight and ended up in the Prison Hospital having his wounds attended to. He was then charged with creating a disturbance and was committed to a month’s imprisonment for his troubles. The Gazette, in a truly wonderful passage of wording, states that “his services will be available should they be required during the next month. He will no doubt do better next time, and as he is a perfect nuisance when at large we would respectfully suggest that he be at once put on the staff, and kept inside the walls of the gaol.”

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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