HC Deb 07 March 1899 vol 68 cc28-9

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Boer Government in January arrested certain members of the South. African League, because they had drawn up a petition to the Queen setting forth the grievances of the Transvaal Uitlanders; and that five times the amount of bail was demanded by the Boer Court for them as was asked for the Boer policeman charged with the murder of Mr. Edgar, an Englishman; whether the meeting held in January by the Uitlanders to protest against the arrest of their leaders was deliberately broken up by armed Boers, who were at the time in Government employ and who were brought in from the country, and were organised for the purpose by Boer officials; whether he is aware that the chief of the Boer police, Commandant-Van Dam, himself watched, without reproof, the violence of his men, whilst they destroyed the furniture in the Amphitheatre, where the meeting was held, and that they afterwards marched round the town assaulting individual Uitlanders; and what steps Her Majesty's Government intend to take to protect British subjects in the Transvaal from outrage and to obtain redress for the grievances of the Uitlanders?


Two members of the South African League were arrested on a charge of having committed a breach of the law regulating public meetings; their bail was at first fixed at £1,000 each, which was five times the amount of the bail originally fixed in the case of the policeman charged with the murder of Edgar, but this was subsequently withdrawn, and the policeman re-arrested. The bail for the members of the League was afterwards reduced to £500 each. The meeting held to protest against their arrest was broken up by Boers. I am not in a position to say that those person were armed or were in Government employ, or were brought in from the country, or were organised by Boer officials. I am not aware whether the Chief of the Police was present at the meeting—some police were present, and it has been stated that they did not interfere. I am expecting a report from the High Commissioner, and am not yet in a position to say whether any action is called for on the part of Her Majesty's Government.


On a later day I shall repeat portions of the Question that have not been answered.