FIRST DESTRUCTION OF VENDA KINGSHIP: THE BOERS
THE MPHEPHU WAR, 1898
After King Makhado died of suspected poisoning in 1895, the Boers saw his death as an opportunity for them to try once more to colonise Venda and to destroy the Venda monarchy. The Boers infiltrated the Ramabulana Royal House and influenced Sinthumule, the Kingdom’s Prime Minister, to turn against his brother, King Mphephu. War broke out between Mphephu’s group known as Mavhengwa and Sinthumule’s group known as Ngomakhosi. Sinthumule fled to Ha-Manavhela (Manavhela Ben Lavin) and sought help from the Boers who were happy to oblige as they perceived Mphephu as a scourge. In 1898 the Boers finally conquered and subjugated the Vhavenda.
The Boers took over Luatame, Songozwi, as Mphephu fled to Zimbabwe. A town was established on 22 February 1899 at Tshirululuni (the cattle post). Tshirululuni was renamed louis trichardt. Sinthumule was crowned the ‘King’ of Venda by the Boers, but his rule was not recognised by Vhavenda. They continued to pay tribute to King Mphephu in exile through Rambiyana and Ravele Matsheketsheke.
The Boers could not, however, establish a permanent presence at Songozwi since they had to engage in a bloody war with the English in the South African war (the Anglo-Boer war) which broke out in 1899. Vhavenda sided with the English and burnt the town of louis trichardt. The Boers were defeated in the South African war and surrendered in 1902.
The English army commander, Taylor, brought Mphephu back to Luatame, Songozwi, in 1902. Sinthumule was removed from the throne and had to reconcile with Mphephu. Taylor, who was bent on punishing the Boers and everyone who assisted them in the South African war and Mphephu war, went on a killing spree, killing Boers and Tsonga-Shangaan men who assisted the Boers. Because of this killing spree, Taylor was nicknamed “Bulalazonke Matshangani” (kill all Shangaans).
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