§ MR. O'DONNELL
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether his attention has been called to the "Graphic" of this week, in which a number of the Native Contingent of the British Forces in South Africa are depicted as plundering a Zulu village; whether it is true that several hundreds of Native villages have been plundered and destroyed since the rising of the Galekas down to the present time, and that the practice is still continued; whether his attention has been directed to the remarks of Colonel Bellairs to General Sir Arthur Conynghame (South African Correspondence C. 2079 of 1878) on the results to the non-combatant population of the destruction of villages and the plundering of the village stores of provisions—I desire to point out that the condition of the Gaika women and children has become most deplorable.… Their habitations burnt, their meal-pits destroyed, their cattle captured.… Wherever our patrols go they seem to meet with these helpless creatures;whether his attention has been called to the statements in the South African correspondence of the "Standard" and "Daily News" of the 16th instant, 29 that great indignation has been caused by the imprisonment of the Zulu King's messengers, and that the Basuto insurgents are being driven out of their caves by smoke and dynamite; and, whether, during or since the year 1878, besides asking for information, he has sent any specific instructions to the British authorities in South Africa on the subject of burning and plundering Native villages, smoking out refugee insurgents, and similar alleged practices?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
Sir, I have not seen The Graphic; but, whatever the merits of the illustrations to which the hon. Member refers may be, I do not think an illustration in a newspaper is quite of sufficient importance to base an opinion upon as to what is occurring in South Africa. I do not know that it is true that several hundreds of Native villages have been plundered and destroyed since the rising of the Gaikas down to the present time, nor do I believe there is any practice of the kind going on now. No doubt, in the war, many of these villages may have been destroyed as a necessary part of military operations; but I do not believe that in any case they have been destroyed where it has not been necessary for that reason to do so. The quotation the hon. Member has made from the remarks of Colonel Bellairs, I think, to a great extent, proves this; and it also proves the humanity with which these operations, as far as possible, have been conducted. I will, with the permission of the House, read the whole quotation, because the hon. Member has omitted some parts from his Question, which show that the condition of these women and children is due to other causes besides the destruction of villages, and that they were humanely treated afterwards. The full quotation, which refers to events that occurred in 1877 and the beginning of 1878, is this—I desire to point out that the condition of the Gaika women and children has become most deplorable. Left by the rebels to shift for themselves, their habitations burnt, their meal-pits destroyed, their cattle captured, and with a drought prevailing over the land, the}' are reported to me during the past fortnight as frequently passing our outposts in bands of 50 or 60 strong, pathetically replying, when questioned—' We have no food, and are going in search of work.' Wherever our patrols go, they seem to meet with these helpless creatures.30 Then Colonel Bellairs goes on to say— "Humanity requires that they should be immediately cared for." In his work, Sir Arthur Cunynghame says—" I immediately placed this humane suggestion before the Government; " and I have information from South Africa to the effect that the result of this suggestion was that the Colonial Government spent thousands of pounds in succouring these unfortunate women and children. I have seen the statements in the South African correspondence of The Standard and Daily News; but I have no information of my own with regard to them. As far as I am able to judge from the telegram, the purport of which I read to the House the other day in reply to the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), I do not think the last messengers from Cetewayo were detained, far less imprisoned. It appears they were sent back by Lord Chelmsford with a message to Cetewayo. As to the mode in which the Basuto insurgents are dealt with, I know nothing; but, however painful it may be to drive the insurgents out of caves and mountain fastnesses, where they had not exactly " taken refuge," but where they were maintaining themselves in rebellion, and from whence it was found impossible to dislodge them—however painful it may be to drive them out by smoke, yet I will venture to say that that is a more humane process than driving them out by starvation. Even if these telegrams be true, at any rate, it would appear that the surrender of these insurgents was secured with very little loss of life, whatever operations may have taken place. As to the last part of the Question of the hon. Member, I really must say it seems to me to contain insinuations as to the action of the British authorities in South Africa which ought not to have been made; and I trust the House will deem me justified in declining to answer them.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
gave Notice that on another day he would ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether the phrase "left to shift for themselves" did not refer to a period when their male relatives had been driven away? He should also take an early opportunity of stating to the House, from the Blue Books, all the Native villages which had been destroyed in South Africa since 1877 down to the present time.