Ghwarriespoort to the Gariep Dam

Continued from Hermanus to Keurfontein

Friday 4 September 2015

We woke up in chilly Keurfontein, at Ghwarriespoort, and continued our journey North and East along the N9. Keurfontein, the place where we stayed, was selfcatering accommodation rather than a B&B, but that was OK — it was was a fast day, so we had baked beans on toast for breakfast.



About 50 km up the road we passed the Grootrivier Dam — the road goes over the dam wall. Four years ago it had been dry, and we expected that after the rain of the last few days it might have had some water in it, but there was none, and the river was the merest trickle. A bit further on we saw puddles at the side of the road, so there had been rain, but obviously it had not affected the river. Perhaps the “Groot” name was irony.

Grootrivier Dam -- as empty as it was four years ago

Grootrivier Dam — as empty as it was four years ago

We bypassed Aberdeen, and reached Graaf Reinet at 11:43, 197 km from Keurfontein. We dropped in to visit my cousin Ailsa Grobler, and this time she was at home. Last time we had visited (in 2011) she was away visiting her son Bruce, who works as a chef in Dubai. Interestingly enough another cousin on the Hannan side of the family, Ceri Duff Henderson, lives in Dubai, where she is a diving instructor.

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Ailsa Grobler, Val Hayes, Nick Grobler: Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

There was a bonus on this visit, as Ailsa’s other son Gavin, who lives in Cape Town, was there as well. We had coffee with them and chatted for a while. Nick and Ailsa run the Villa Reinet Guest House in Graaff Reinet, and we stayed there on our trip in 2011, though only Nick was at home then. We can also recommend it as a very good place to stay, and not just because it is run by our cousins.

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Steve Hayes, Gavin & Ailsa Grobler. Graaff Reinet, 4 September 2015

Our Hannan great grandparents, William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane, lived in Glasgow, and four of their children emigrated to southern Africa, including Ailsa’s grandfather Stanley Livingstone Hannan and my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, who married George Growdon.

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape. 4 September 2015

We left Graaff Reinet about 12:45, and crossed the Lootsberg Pass at 1:20 pm, 262 km from Keurfontein, and probably, at 1781 metres (5843 feet), one of the highest places on our route this day. In some places we followed the railway line, which on our previous visit had looked neglected and disused, but this time looked as if it could be in use again. The road was wide and smooth, and seemed to go almost effortlessly over the hills. Last time we had been here 4 years ago we had travelled this section in the dark. At Middelburg, which we reached at 1:48 pm, 306 km from Keurfontein, they were working on the road, and there were a couple of stop/go sections, but they did not hold us up for long. The road clearly needed working on, as it was narrow, bumpy and much patched, They had completed the sections from Noupoort to Colesberg, which were wide and smooth.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole's Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Toverberg, the Magic Mountain, also known as Cole’s Berg, named after Sir Lowry Cole, sometime governor of the Cape Colony.

Henry Green, the brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, was resident magistrate and civil commissioner in Colesberg in the 1860s, so we visited the town museum to see if we could find out where he had lived at that time, and it appeared that the drosdy (magistrate’s residence) was next to the Anglican Church, where most of Henry Green’s children by his second wife, Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, were baptised. The drostdy is now a restaurant, but it wasn’t open when we passed through. The Anglican church next door has services once a month, when the rector of Middelburg visits.

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant

The old Drosdy in Colesberg, now a restaurant. Henery Green apparently lived here when he was resident magistrate in the 1860s.

We then followed the southern shore of the Gariep Dam to Oviston. The Gariep Dam is the biggest dam in South Africa, used for water storage, power generation and irrigation. It is on the Orange (Gariep) River, which we had seen further downstream earlier in our journey when we crossed it from north to south at Kakamas, and saw it at the Aughrabies falls.

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

Gariep Dam, 4 September 2015

We went to Oviston, on the southern shore, where we spent the night at the Aan Die Water guest house.

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston

Sunset over the Gariep Dam at Oviston





Meeting Vause cousins at Robertson

Continued from Kamieskroon to Robertson

Sunday 23 August 2015

We attended the Divine Liturgy (in Afrikaans) at Bedehuis Bethanië, and said goodbye to Fr Zacharias van Wyk and Macrina Walker.

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië -- the Last Homely House

After Divine Liturgy at Bedehuis Bethanië — the Last Homely House

Then we drove in to Robertson, 6 km away, to have lunch with Sandy Struckmeyer and her parents. Wyatt and Evelyn Vause, and her daughter Kerry, and Ludwig.

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunive Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

Vause cousins at lunch, Robertson 23 Aug 2015: Eunice Vause, Val Hayes, Wyatt Vause, Steve Hayes, Sandy & Kerry Struckmeyer

We had lunch in the yard, where the weather was a bit warmer than earlier in the day. Sandy is my third cousin, and our common ancestors were our great great grandparents were Richard Vause of Hull (1822-1876) and Matilda Park of Bath (1828-1881). The Vause family came from the Isle of Axholme in north-west Lincolnshire, while Matilda Park’s family was originally from Northern Ireland. How they met and married in Bath is something of a mystery, and within a couple of weeks of their marriage in 1852 they were on their way to Natal on The Lady of the Lake.

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

Vause cousins Val & Steve Hayes, Sandra & Kerry Struckmeyer, Eunice & Wyatt Vause

They went to Tugela Drift, where they opened a store in partnership with J.R.M. Watson, and Richard Vause named the place Colenso after the controversial Anglican Bishop of Natal. The business failed, and Watson moved to Ladysmith, and the Vause family moved to Pietermaritzburg, and later to Durban, where Richard Vause founded the Natal Mercury newspaper in partnership with John Robinson, and was later mayor of Durban. The Watson family touched ours again later, when Frederick William Beningfield (Val’s 1st cousin 4 times removed) eloped to the Free State with J.R.M. Watson’s daughter Theresa, while another skelm relative, Alfred Dawson Francis, alias Alfred Francis Dawson, eloped with, or had an affair with Watson’s wife.

Wyatt Vause

Wyatt Vause

Richard Vause and Matilda Park had several children, and I am descended from their son Richard Wyatt Vause (also known as Wyatt Vause) while Wyatt Vause of Robertson is descended from their son Robert Vause, who was a farmer at Ixopo in the Natal Midlands.

Wyatt had five vintage cars, including a 1947 Studebaker, which I had known in my youth as the “back to front car” because you couldn’t tell whether they were coming or going. He had a Renault, which had belonged to a man who had been murdered on a farm in the district, and said he had been a Spitfire pilot during
WWII, based in Malta, and had survived all that, only to be murdered at home. He also had a Morris 1100, and I remembered when they had been one of the latest things in 1963, but they are now more than 50 years old. Wyatt told me a bit about the family too.

He said two of his elder brothers, Michael and Brian, had died, and that his eldest brother Trevor was now 90 years old. Michael had died of cancer after his son Philip had been killed in a car crash about 20 years ago. He showed us a couple of family photos inside the house, ane of which showed his uncle Frederick, who had died falling off a wagon at the age of about 3 or so.

Approaching Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Approaching Du Toit’s Kloof Pass

We left Robertson about 3 pm, and drove to Cape Town over the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, which gives good views over the Paarl Valley. We booked in at the Sun 1 Hotel on the Foreshore, which is convenient for access to the archives, where we were planning to spend much of the coming week doing family history research.

Paarl valley from Du Toit's Kloof Pass

Paarl valley from Du Toit’s Kloof Pass



Stewardson family breakthrough

In the forty years we have been researching our family history, the Stewardson side of the family has been one of the longest-standing “brick walls”, as family historians like to say, referring to the inability to get further back than a particular ancestor. In the case of the Stewardsons, the brick wall is more like a dam wall, because once it has broken, down comes the flood.

We discovered quite early on that Val’s great great grandmother was Kate Stewardson, who was born at Rooibank near Walvis Bay (now part of Namibia) in about 1847-48. Her parents were mentioned in several books, but for 30 years we were unable to discover their first names. The author of one book even made up names for them, Ian and Norah, which somehow carlessly slipped into some historical records published by the Namibian Archives. Eventually, after 30 years, we found, in a Methodist baptism record in Cape Town, that they were Francis and Frances, or Frank and Fanny, and also that Frances’s maiden name was Morris. We have described the story of that search more fully here.

Thanks largely to FamilySearch, the online genealogical research tool of the Mormon Church, we were able to learn more about the origins of the Morris family. FamilySearch have placed online indexes, and sometimes original copies of the registers kept by other denominations, and by this means we were able to trace the Morris family back to the village of Donisthorpe, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire in England.

Donisthorpe village, home of the Morris family, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire in England

Donisthorpe village, home of the Morris family, on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire in England

At the time there was no church in Donisthorpe, so the Morris children were baptised in the nearby village of Over Seal in Leicestershire.

Family tradition, which was also found in published sources, was that the Stewardsons originally came from Scotland, and we had assumed that Frank Stewardson had come to the Cape Colony and met Frances Morris there, and married her before moving on to Damaraland. But no amount of searching Cape marriage records, in the originals in the Cape Archives, on microfilm in the LDS (Mormon) family history centre in Johannesburg, or later online when some of the records became available on the web, revealed this marriage.

Another useful online resource that became available was FreeBMD, which is the birth, marriage and death record indexes for England and Wales. The handwritten, typewritten and printed indexes have been transcribed by volunteers, and are almost complete for the 19th century. And there we eventually found the marriage record of Francis Stewardson and Frances Morris. We received the marriage certificate on 2 May 2015, and that broke the dam wall.

They were married in Donisthorpe on 8 Oct 1838, and the entry was No 1, so theirs was the first marriage after civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in England in 1837. His father was Samuel Stewardson, and his occupation was listed as Servant. Her father was Thomas Morris, and his occupation was listed as Butcher. The residence of both parties was given as Donisthorpe. The witnesses were Thomas Proudman and Elizabeth Morris.

View over the Amber Vaslley from Coxbench, where members of the Stewardson family lived in the 18th century.

View over the Amber Vaslley from Coxbench, where members of the Stewardson family lived in the 18th century.

Thanks to the availability of online records, mainly through FamilySearch, we were able to follow up the father’s name, and it appears that the Stewardson family went back a few generations in Derbyshire, mainly in the village of Coxbench, in an area called Amber Valley.

Not only was Frank Stewardson’s father named Samuel, but so were his grandfather and great grandfather. He also had a brother Samuel and a couple of cousins named Samuel as well. Unlike the Morris family, where several members came to the Cape Colony, Frank seems to have been the only Stewardson to have done so.

One family tradition/rumour/legend did prove almost true,  however. About 30 years ago a cousin, Bernard Lindholm Carlsson, said that his brother, Ernest Gay Carlsson, had done some research into the family history and maintained that the correct spelling of the name was Stuartson. Some of the entries in the parish registers at Horsley (near Coxbench) spell the name as Stuardson, but that appears to be the idiosyncrasy of a particular clergyman, and  in all other cases the Stewardson spelling was used. We were never able to make contact with Ernest Gay Carlsson to see what he had discovered, though we tried several times to do so.

Anyway, after 40 years the Stewardson drought has truly broken, and we are now busy trying to sort out all the Stewardson relations and seeing where they fit into the family tree. And, thanks to the availability of online records, one discovery leads to another, and what would have taken three years to discover 30 years ago takes about three days now.


The Tapscott family

Henry Green, the brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green, and was British Resident of the Orange River Sovereignty before going to Kimberley as a diamond prospector, and later becoming a farmer.

His first wife, Margaret Aitchison, and their two children all died in 1860, and in 1862 he married Ida Carolina Johanna von Lilienstein, whose father was Count Carl Arthur von Lilienstein, who was a customs official in Holstein 1839-1848. He joined the British German Legion and led a party of 100 military settlers to Berlin in British Kaffraria in 1857. He returned to Germany in 1860 with his wife and youngest daughter, but Ida Carolina Johanna married Henry Green and stayed.

Their daughter Ida Margaret Catherine Green (1865-1948) married George Arthur Montgomery Tapscott (1854-1918), and they had 10 children.

The Tapscott boys: Back: Norman and Sidney. Front: Lionel Eric (Doodles); George Lancelot (Dustry); Cecil Leander.

The Tapscott boys: Back: Norman and Sidney. Front: Lionel Eric (Doodles); George Lancelot (Dusty); Cecil Leander.

Several of the children made names for themselves in sport, with “Dusty” and “Doodles” both playing cricket for Griqualand West, and Eric Lionel “Doodles” Tapscott playing both cricket and tennis for South Africa. Ruth Daphne Tapscott was good tennis player and was a quarter finalist at Wimbledon, and the first woman to play at Wimbledon without stockings.

Family Group Report
For: George Arthur Montgomery Tapscott  (ID=  549)
Date Prepared:  9 Sep 2014
NAME: TAPSCOTT, George Arthur Montgomery, Born 13 Sep 1854 in
Clifton, Bristol, Died 9 Sep 1918 in Kimberley at age 63;
FATHER: TAPSCOTT, Samuel, Born ??? 1804, Died 22 Nov 1860 at
age 56; MOTHER: HILL, Elizabeth, Born 14 Dec 1811, Died 20 Oct
1883 at age 71

MARRIED Feb 1882, to GREEN, Ida Margaret Catherine, Born 3 Dec
1865 in Colesberg, Died 23 Feb 1948 in Plumstead, Cape at age
82; FATHER: GREEN, Henry, Born 23 Aug 1818, Died 29 Sep 1884
at age 66; MOTHER: VON LILIENSTEIN, Ida Carolina Johanna, Born
4 Dec 1835, Died ???

1. M TAPSCOTT, Lancelot George (Dusty), born ??? 1879 in
Barkly West, died 13 Dec 1940 in Kimberley; Married to
STORE, Kathleen
2. F TAPSCOTT, Violet, born ??? 1883, died ??? 1883
3. M TAPSCOTT, Sidney, born 25 Nov 1885 in Barkly West, Cape,
died 28 Aug 1943 in Simonstown; Married 19 Nov 1913 to
TOWNSEND, Helen Burnett; 4 children
4. F TAPSCOTT, Daisy Margaret, born ??? 1887 in Barkly West,
died ??? 1901?
5. M TAPSCOTT, Eric Lionel (Doodles), born 5 Mar 1889 in
Kimberley, died 7 Jul 1934? in Kenilworth, Cape; Married
to LOTTER, Hazel Christine
6. M TAPSCOTT, Norman von Lilienstein, born ??? 1892? in
Barkly West, died Nov 1966 in Cape; Married ??? 1936 to
ADAMS, Alice Rebecca Thorn; 2 children
7. F TAPSCOTT, Winifred Elfreda (Elfie), born 24 Nov 1895 in
Kimberley, died 12 Sep 1981 in Cape Town; Married to
OAKELEY, Arthur Eckley; 1 child
8. M TAPSCOTT, Cecil Leander, born ??? 1900 in Kimberley, died
??? in George, Cape
9. F TAPSCOTT, Elaine Rowe, born 11 Jun 1901 in Kimberley,
died 25 May 1980 in Umhlali, Natal; Married ??? 1936 to
ROBBINS, Ronald Arthur; 2 children
10. F TAPSCOTT, Ruth Daphne (Billy), born 31 May 1903 in
Kimberley; Married ??? 1930 to ROBBINS, Colin John James;
4 children

Most of our knowledge of the Tapscott side of the family came from Jack and Peggy Stokes, who stayed with us in Melmoth in 1979. Peggy was the daughter of Sidney Tapscott (seen in the picture above, taken about 1912. He became a mining engineer, and worked on the Nkana Mine in Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia).

Peggy and Jack Stokes and Val Hayes, at Melmoth, Zululand, 22 January 1979

Peggy and Jack Stokes and Val Hayes, at Melmoth, Zululand, 22 January 1979

When the Kariba Dam was built, and began to fill with water a boat called The Ark was used to capture marooned wild animals and take them to safety. When the dam was full, and no more rescues were needed, Jack and Peggy bought The Ark and used it to take tourists for cruises on Lake Kariba. When they retired, they sold The Ark and bought a caravan, and travelled round Southern Africa visiting family and friends. Thus it was that they spent a few weeks in our backyard, and when we had time we pored over the family history documents we had.

Jack Stokes with their caravan and the old 1956 Chev van they used to pull it, in our backyard in Melmoth, January 1979.

Jack Stokes with their caravan and the old 1956 Chev van they used to pull it, in our backyard in Melmoth, January 1979.

Since then we have been in touch with a few more people on the Tapscott side of the family, and learnt a bit more. There are probably many more stories to be told, and people could use our Wikispaces pages to tell some of them, or start their own.



Visiting family in Durban, July 2012

After spending a few days in Pietermaritzburg at the Aberfeldy B&B in Scottsville (which we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone), we came down to Duban and visted Val’s aunt, Pat van der Merwe, formerly Terblanche, born Greene.

Val Hayes, Jared Alldred, Pat van der Merwe, 14 July 2012

We saw aunt Pat when we went to the Western Cape on holiday last year, but had not seen Jared since he was 9 months old, and now he is 12, so perhaps that warrants a special picture.

Jared Alldred, aged 12

Pat is Val’s father’s sister, and Jared is her great grandson (and Val’s first cousin twice removed). Pat is staying with her youngest daughter Edwina (Jared’s great-aunt) in Durban.

While visiting them we warched rugby, the Sharks playing the Cheetahs in the Super-15 tournament, and the Sharks won by a big enough margin to move on to the nextr stage in the competition.

On Sunday morning we went to church at St Nicholas Church in Durban North, and then went down to the Pirates Lifesaving Club to meet some Hannan cousins I do not think I had met before.

Bill Hannan was the son of Duncan McFarlane Hannan, the youngest brother of my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, and we met him and his two sons Shawn and Clyde, and had lunch with them at the lifesaving club. Shawn and Clyde are my second cousins, and our great grandparents were William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane of Glasgow in Scotland. William and Ellen had seven children, four of whom came to Southern Africa.

Bill Hannan, Val Hayes, Clyde & Shawn Hannan, at Durban, 15 July 2012

The children who stayed behind were the eldest son, Tom, a daughter Maria, and a son Stanley Livingstone Hannan, who was killed in the First World War.

Bill Hannan

Those who came to Southern Africa were Emily (or Amelia), who married first Charlie Mould and then Arthur Sharp; Janet (my grandmother), who married George Growdon; David, who married Agnes Irvine and lived in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and Duncan (Bill’s father) who married Margaret Helen Bain.

Earlier in our holiday we visited Peter Badcock Walters, who is descended from David and Agnes Hannan, and another of their descendants is Clyde Alexander Hannan, now an archiect in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Bill said that his Clyde was named after the other one, because they thought it was a nice name, and Shawn commented that it was a bit wet, since it was a river, but that was probably the origin, since the Hannans lived at Clydeside in Scotland.

We had not known that Clyde and Shawn were married, and Clyde’s wife and daughter are now living in Shropshire, UK, on the Welsh border, where Clyde hopes to join them , and Shawn’s daughters, Giorgia and Maxine are very active in sports, and Giorgia has played hockey for South Africa.

Clyde Hannan

Clyde and Shawn grew up at Scottburgh on the Natal South Coast, and swimming and lifesaving were very much part of their lives on the coast.

It was good to make contact with another branch of the Hannan family, one that we had had little contact with before.

We’ve had a fair bit of contact with the descendants of Tom Hannan, most of whom remained in Scotland. My mother told me about her uncle Tom, who was a conscientious objector in the First World War, and spent two years in jail for it. In my youth this made him something of a hero in  my eyes, even though my mother also told me that uncle Tom Hannan wasn’t a pacifist, but was a conscientious objector because he was a socialist, and she said he sent his children to the socialist Sunday School.

When I went overseas to study I met Tom’s son Willie Hannan, who was MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and my mother’s Rhodesian cousin Betty regarded him as a terrible man, proposing sanctions against Rhodesia after UDI, so before I met him I pictured him as a wild-eyed Che Guevara-type revolutionary, but was slightly disappointed to find thad he wasn’t at all like that, but was very respectable and rather conservative.

Shawn Hannan

But he was very kind to me, and when my mother travelled to the UK he introduced us to the other members of the family, his sisters Ella, Tilda and Ria, and took us to see the small town of Girvan, where the Hannans had originally lived before they went to Glasgow. I’m still in touch with some members of that branch of the family on Facebook.

The biggest remaining mystery of the seven children of William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane is Maria (Ria) Hannan, born about 1893, and said to have married a Jack Cochrane, but we don’t know if they had any children, or what happened to them at all.

After lunch with the Hannans we then visited Frank and Erna Vause in Durban North. Their main hobby is the collecting of Royal Doulton China, and family history takes second place to that. They have a most amazing collection, which occupies many of the rooms of their house.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing a Vause family tree, which many different members of the family have variants of, which traces the origin of the family to Vaux, De Vaux, or De Vallibus families, but always shows a gap of a couple of hundred years between them and the known ancestors. Different branches of the family have slightlky different versions of this family tree, but I believe the original was drawn up by one Arthur Wyatt Ellis, son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales.

Frank & Erna Vause, Steve Hayes


Growdon family in the Eastern Cape

On our recent holiday trip we visited Steve’s second cousin once removed, Hamish Scott, and his wife Monica and their son Robbie at Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape.

Scott family

Hamish, Monica & Robbie Scott, Stutterheim, 17 May 2011

Hamish is the son of Steve’s second cousin, Florence Scott, born Moors, and Florence’s grandmother was Christiana Jane (Jenny) Growdon, who married Daniel Moors at Bethulie in the Free State.

Robbie runs a nursery, and self-catering cabins called The Shire which are built on the edge of the forest, and are a marvellous place for a holiday for people who want to relax and watch birds.


The Shire, self-catering cabins at Stutterheim, run by Robbie Scott

The Growdon family came to the Eastern Cape from Cornwall in the 1870s and William Matthew Growdon (my great grandfather and Hamish’s great great grandfather) was a platelayer on the Cape Government Railways, building the railway line from East London to the interior. He retired to Queenstown with his wife Elizabeth (born Greenaway), and they are buried in the cemetery there.

After leaving Stutterheim we went to Queenstown to look at their grave, which we had last seen in 1975. At first we could not find it, and thought it might have been vandalised, as many graves in Queenstown cemetery seemed to be, but eventually found it with the help of one of the caretakers. The stones were intact, but the railing around the graves had been removed, presumably by metal thieves, which was one reason we could not find the graves.

Graves of Elizabeth and William Matthew Growdon in Queenstown cemetery

Tombstone Tuesday: football and vandalism

Yesterday I took my son to the Pretoria Showgrounds to write an exam, and while waiting for him I visited the Rebecca Street Cemetery nearby. I didn’t see any tombstones belonging to my family, though I did see one for Loftus Versveld, after whom our city’s biggest football stadium is named. I had sometimes wondered who Loftus Versveld was, and there was the answer — Robert Owen Loftus Versveld, 1862-1932. In addition to the tombstone, there was a stone from the Northern Transvaal Rugby Board, acknowledging his services to rugby. And Loftus Versveld Stadium is, of course, a bigger and more prominent memorial, the home of the Blue Bulls, the Northern Transvaal Rugby Team.

I wonder what Loftus Versveld would have thought of the World Cup Soccer tournament matches being played there next month. For a long time Loftus Versveld stadium was only used for rugby, and we went to the very first soccer match ever played there, on 12 October 1992, when local team Mamelodi Sundowns played Sheffield Wednesday. Actually that wasn’t the first soccer match, because there was a curtain raiser with a women’s team from Kaiser Chiefs playing against Sundowns, and the Chiefs won easily. So perhaps history was being made in more senses than one — it may have been the first time women had played in the Loftus Versveld stadium. The main match, between Sundowns and Sheffield Wednesday, was a draw. Just before the big match some people paraded around the field with a banner saying “Snor City welcomes soccer”, a reference to the fact that in those days Pretoria civil servants often sported moustaches.

Rebecca Street Cemetery, Pretoria, Tshwane, from the memorial garden on top of the hill at the northern side

I went up to the highest point of the cemetery, on the northern edge, where there was a memorial garden for cremated ashes. There were some modern ones, with memorial stones in neat rows. And then there was an older rockery, rather pleasant, except that many of the niches had been broken open, and the ashes stolen.

Rebecca Street Cemetery, Pretoria - vandalised niches and memorial tablets, from which cremated ashes had been stolen

I wondered who would do such a thing, and why.

It doesn’t seem to make any sense. What makes cremated ashes valuable to thieves?

More vandalised memorials in the memorial garden at the Rebecca Street Cemetery


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