The Voortrekkers
A history of the Voortrekkers Great Trek 1835 - 1845
Treachery!
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Between Retief's first and second visit, the seeds of inevitable perfidy had been sown. Firstly, Dingane learned of Potgieter's success at Kapain against the Matabele, that Voortrekkers had descended the Drakensberg in large numbers and thirdly, he had received a letter from Retief.

Retief's Letter to Dingane

In this ill advised and uncharacteristic letter, Retief wrote that Mzilikazi's fate was as a result of the providence of God when he had made war when he should not have. In a second letter, Retief had informed Dingane that he intended to retain some of Sikyonela's cattle as well as keep the horses and guns. To make matters worse, he was told the Sikyonela had been released.

Dingane determined to wipe out not only Retief and his party but all the Voortrekkers and contemplated an invitation to all the Voortrekkers including the women and children (but without the horses) to Umgungundlovu. However the sounds of muskets being fired into the air told him that Retief had already arrived.

Retief Arrives at Umgungundlovu

The king kept the party waiting for several days with displays of dancing and mock battles, even asking them to display their abilities as horsemen in the great area in the centre of the kraal.


Retief's party enters the kraal

Eventually however he signed a treaty (drawn up in English) ceding the land. The next day the Boers were to return joyfully to their party under the Drakensberg.

The Boers are Warned

At that time, a young twelve-year-old boy called William Wood, the son of one of the settlers in Port Natal was visiting the royal kraal. He was fluent in Zulu and had overheard the warriors talking about what was going to happen on the morrow. He warned several of the Boers but was brushed aside.

On visiting missionary Owen above the kraal, he told them the same - 'You will see. Tomorrow they will kill the Boers'. On the day Retief and his party were to leave 6th February 1838, several of the party breakfasted with the Owens and were again warned but ignored the warning believing that the king was incapable of treachery.

Next . . . Warning unheeded, the Voortrekkerrs are massacred.