10 January 1900
On 10 January 1900, Major General Horatio Herbert Kitchener arrived in Cape Town as the new Chief in Staff of an army of some 200,000 men. The task he had been given was to crush attempts by the descendants of Dutch settlers to form their own Boer homeland in South Africa, independent form British rule. Kitchener employed brutal measures to end the armed rebellion by about 25,000 Boer guerrillas, destroying thirty thousand farms, burning crops, seizing cattle, felling trees, requisitioning food and forcing 160,000 women and children into concentration camps, of whom an estimated 28,000 died from hunger and disease. The African labourers and servants employed by Boer families were also imprisoned and suffered at least as many deaths. By the end of the conflict, the rebellion had been successfully extinguished but it’s estimated that in the process approximately one sixth of the Boer population was wiped out in the camps, besides those killed in battle.1
- Philip Magnus, Kitchener: Portrait of an Imperialist, John Murray, London p159 and Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Jonathan Cape, London pp. 221-222.
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