Who is Gideon Scheepers?

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He has a street named after him in Middelburg, much like Helen Joseph and Lilian Ngoyi, and two memorials have been erected in his honour.

Commandant Gideon Scheepers is remembered as a martyr. A man who fought bravely for his people, stripped of his rights and ranking, brutally shot and thrown in an unknown grave.

Born on 4 April 1878, Scheepers grew up in Middelburg and trained as a heliographer in the State Artillery at 16, until he was seconded to the Orange Free State and promoted to sergeant. It didn’t take long for him to climb up through the rankings as he took on the British in the Anglo-Boer War.

An image of Gideon Scheepers’ execution: executedtoday.com

As a part of the Boer forces, Scheepers engaged in battle during the Siege of Kimberley as they tried to overthrow the British hold on the small diamond town.

After being promoted to captain by General Christiaan de Wet, Scheepers became a member of Commandant Kritzinger’s commando that invaded the Cape Colony.
Scheepers was soon promoted to commandant himself and held charge over 150 men as they continued to battle against the British rule in the Cape.

Commandant Scheepers was left behind by his men, upon his own request, after he fell ill in Port Alfred. During his illness, Scheepers was captured by the British, who treated him.

An image of Scheepers’ body colapsing after execution: pinterest.com

After regaining his health, he became a prisoner of war and was sent to prison in Graaff-Reinet. There he was charged with murder, attempted murder and arson.
During his hearing, the British refused him his rights as an officer and charged him with war crimes under the martial law.

Commandant Scheepers was then sentenced to death, and on 18 January 1902, he was executed by a firing squad at the age of 23.
After his burial, the British exhumed his remains and reburied him in an unknown location out of fear that his fellow soldiers would claim the grave.

Gideon Scheepers’ execution sparked outrage on a global scale because of his unfair trial.
To this day, there is no record of where his remains lie, but a memorial was erected outside of Graaff-Reinet in an estimated location, the other one stands in Arnot.

References:
Wikipedia

The Life Story of Gideon Scheepers

Gideon Scheepers Memorial – Graaff Reinet

  AUTHOR
Sjani Campher

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