The Slachter's Nek Rebellion
In 1815, a farmer from the eastern border of the Cape Colony, Frederik Bezuidenhout, was summoned to appear before a magistrate's court after repeated allegations of his mistreating one of his Khoi labourers. Bezuidenhout resisted arrest and fled to a cave near his home where he defended himself against the soldiers sent to capture him. When he refused to surrender he was shot dead by one of the soldiers.
One of Bezuidenhout's brothers, Hans Bezuidenhout, swore revenge. Together with a neighbour Hendrik Prinsloo, Hans Bezuidenhout organised an uprising against the British colonial power, believed by them to be hostile towards the Afrikaner farmers. On 18th November 1815, a commando of rebels met an armed force from Landdrost (magistrate) Jacob Cuyler, the military commander on the eastern frontier, at Slachter's Nek. Negotiations failed and the majority of the rebels left without any shots being fired. Twenty rebels surrendered, followed by several more over the following days. However, some of the leaders, among whom was Hans Bezuidenhout, refused to turn themselves over to the British authorities. On 29th November 1815, they were attacked by colonial troops. Everybody but Bezuidenhout surrendered and, like his brother, Hans died while resisting arrest.
The rebels were finally charged at Uitenhage. Some were cleared, others imprisoned or banished. Six were sentenced to death but one of these was pardoned by the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset. On 9th March 1816 the remaining five were hanged in public at Van Aardtspos. Four of the nooses broke during the procedure as the hangman who came to perform the execution had not realised there were five to be hung, and old ropes had to be used. The four whose ropes broke, as well as the public, pleaded for their lives but Culyer ordered that they be hanged a second time and they were hung one by one. The names of the five who were hanged were Hendrik Prinsloo, Stephanus Bothma, Abraham Bothma, Cornelius Faber and Theunis de Klerk.
Although many of the frontier boere did not support or agree with the rebellion, some Voortrekkers have claimed that it was one of the reasons for the Great Trek.
Colonel Jacob Glen Cuyler was an American by birth who had remained loyal to Britain during the rebellion of the American colonies. He had first hand experience of the harshness meted out to loyalists by the rebels and had consequently a strong aversion for rebels, unfortunately for the Slachter's Nek rebels.
On 9th March 1916, exactly 100 years after the execution, a monument was unveiled on the spot where the hanging took place, on the N10 south of Cookhouse.