R350.00 – R18,000.00
Grave site and memorial near Ulundi of Piet Retief and his men. Retief left the Tugela region on 28 January 1838, in the belief that he could negotiate with Dingane for permanent boundaries for the Natal settlement. The deed of cession of the Tugela-Umzimvubu region, although dated 4 February 1838, was signed by Dingane on 6 February 1838, with the two sides recording three witnesses each. Dingane invited Retief’s party to witness a special performance by his soldiers, whereupon Dingane ordered his soldiers to capture Retief’s party and their coloured servants.
Retief, his son, men, and servants, about 100 people in total, were taken to kwaMatiwane Hill, a site where Dingane had thousands of other enemies executed. The Zulus killed the entire party by clubbing them and killed Retief last, so as to witness the deaths of his comrades. Their bodies were left on the hillside to be eaten by wild animals, as was Dingane’s custom with his enemies. Dingane then directed the attack against the Voortrekker laagers, which plunged the migrant movement into temporary disarray. Around 500 men, women and children were killed.
Following the decisive Voortrekker victory at Blood River, Andries Pretorius and his “victory commando” recovered the remains of the Retief party. They buried them on 21 December 1838.
Also recovered was the undamaged deed of cession from Retief’s leather purse, as later verified by a member of the “victory commando”, E.F. Potgieter. An exact copy survives, but the original deed disappeared in transit to the Netherlands during the Anglo-Boer War. The site of the Retief grave was more or less forgotten until pointed out in 1896 by J.H. Hattingh, a surviving member of Pretorius’s commando. A monument recording the names of the members of Retief’s delegation was erected near the grave in 1922.
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