HC Deb 30 May 1907 vol 175 cc70-1
MR. WALSH (Lancashire, Ince)

asked the Under-Secretary for the Colonies a Question of which he had given him private notice, namely, whether he could now state to the House what were the nature and extent of the disturbances, if any, to suppress which British soldiers had been employed on the Rand; whether the Transvaal authorities had themselves taken any steps to prevent or suppress the disorder, and whether the High Commissioner despatched the military before the ordinary means of preserving order had proved inadequate?


The Secretary of State for the Colonies has to-day received the following telegram from the Governor of the Transvaal:—"May 29.—Rand strike all quiet along Reef now. Miners waiting for result of ballot of engine-drivers, which will not be declared till Friday. Evidence furnished to Attorney-General was conclusive as to necessity of calling out military. You must remember the Reef is fifty miles long, and that when every town of Transvaal has been denuded of police, there were under 600 available to deal with conditions created by strike along whole Reef. It was absolutely necessary to employ either Volunteers or Regulars. It was most inadvisable to employ Volunteers, partly because many of the Volunteers are minors, and partly because Volunteers necessarily have not the discipline to stand up and be stoned without individually retaliating. I fear that if Volunteers had been used there would already have been bloodshed. Following are instances of evidences of acts of violence. On 15th May party of Afrikanders going to mine attacked by strikers, and they and police severely stoned. Wagon containing effects and bedding of these men burnt. Constant assaults on individual men who had either refused to strike or had taken place of strikers. At one time life of a miner named Botha, who had been badly injured, was despaired of, but I am glad to say that it is now believed he will recover. On 22nd May complete destruction of fencing round shafts of the Robinson Mine. On 23rd May, at Robinson Deep, strikers broke down fences round head gear, and broke into the quarters of the miners who had not joined strike, and absolutely wrecked them. The small body of police who were there were overpowered, and some of them seriously injured by the blows which they received. On 24th May there would have been a very serious affair at the Consolidated Langlaagte Mine had it not been for the fact that soldiers arrived in nick of time. Commissioner of Police, who was present, described attitude of strikers to have been most violent. They were armed with pick handles and other such weapons, and openly talked of showing violence against the police if they took any decisive action, and declared that they would tear the men working on the mine to pieces if they would not go on strike. One of the foremost men drew revolver. Police just held mob, but only just, till the cavalry appeared. The cavalry and police together were able to drive away and disperse mob without injuring any one. Commissioner of Police reports that in respect of this mob there was a large number of men who had been drinking heavily, and also that there was a large number of foreigners belonging to a distinctly dangerous class. Attorney-General has not trusted only to the reports of police, but he has himself been amongst the mines on these occasions, and could judge for himself what the temper of the strikers was, and the risk that was being run."