HL Deb 09 February 1880 vol 250 cc258-60

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, "Whether it was intended to disarm the natives in Basutoland without distinction; and whether the measure was enforced under the authority of an Act of the Cape Parliament, or by the authority of the Governor only? The noble Earl said, he believed that in South Africa there was no tribe better affected towards this country than that of the Basutos. The proposition of indiscriminate disarmament was causing considerable dissatisfaction and even disaffection among them, and that was a result greatly to be deplored. He did not find fault with the general policy of disarmament in South Africa; on the contrary, he was inclined to think that if such a policy was gradually and cautiously carried into effect it would be productive of excellent results; but he was of opinion that indiscriminate disarmament of all the Natives, whether loyal or disloyal, would create disorder and disaffection. He had, therefore, placed his Question on the Paper, and was anxious to know by what authority disarmament was to be carried out; because if it were on the authority of the Governor alone, he should not contemplate good results from the measure.


in reply, said, the noble Earl would recollect that under his (the Earl of Kimberley's) auspices in 1871 Basutoland was annexed to Cape Colony, and that the responsibility for the preservation of the peace in that country rested entirely with the Government of the Cape. The latest intelligence which the Colonial Office had received was contained in a Minute dated December 16, 1879, in which the Cape Government announced their determination to proclaim in Basutoland the Peace Preservation Act of 1878. That Act would be found in the Papers as Act 13 of 1878. It was entitled "Peace Preservation Act of 1878," and it empowered the Governor to proclaim districts as areas within which no person should have or carry arms or ammunition without a licence, unless such person were a magistrate, justice of the peace, or field cornet, or were serving in Her Majesty's Forces, or were enrolled in any colonial, burgher, or volunteer force. Compulsory disarmament could only be carried out under that Act, and not by authority of the Governor only. He might be permitted to call attention to a Cape despatch dated December 16, 1879. It was in these terms— Colonial Secretary's Office, Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, December 16, 1879. Ministers beg to forward to his Excellency the Governor for transmission to the Secretary of State the official report of the proceedings at the Pitso, held at Masera, British Basutoland, on the 16th and 17th of October last, which contains a full explanation of their policy with respect to disarmament. The rebellion in Basutoland having terminated, and peace being apparently established throughout the colony and its dependencies, the Peace Preservation Act will shortly be proclaimed in Basutoland, and Borne other parts of the eastern districts of the colony to which the Act has not yet been applied. Intelligence has within the last few days been received from the Chief Officer of the Government in Basutoland that many head men have informed him that they are quite ready to surrender their arms when called upon to do so. The precautions that have been used in the past will be exercised in the future, and Ministers have every expectation that their continued efforts to insure permanent peace in this part of Her Majesty's dominions will be attended with success. J. GORDON SPRIGG. That was received on the 7th of January. He might state, in passing, that it would be embodied in Papers that would be presented to their Lordships in the course of this week or next. A telegram, which some of their Lordships might have seen, appeared inThe Timesof to-day, stating that— The Cape Government, according to the request of Letsea, the Basuto chief, has granted a delay for the surrender of arms by the Basutos, pending the result of the Petition which the chief has addressed to the Cape Parliament. He was not able to confirm the statement, as they had heard nothing of it officially; but, from all they had heard, he was in a position to state that disarmament, when it was carried out, and if it was carried out, would be done with due consideration for the feelings of the inhabitants, and would, he hoped, tend to their welfare and the tranquillity of the Colony.