Bhambatha Rebellion – Mishack Mthalane’s account of the event


In October 1968, one Mishak Mthilane consulted Attorneys Nel & Stevens in Greytown. Their Interpreter, Gilbert Maphanga took this statement from him about his participation in the Bambatha Rebellion in 1906.


During April 1906, Bambata came back from Zululand. He collected young men and instructed them to catch his uncles Magwababa and Funizwe. Magwababa was caught at night, Funizwe ran away. The following day I armed myself with others and went to a fort called Mdayi near Mpanza where we found Magwababa in captivity with others. Magwababa’s wives went and reported to a European farmer (Voyizana) Mr Phillip Botha that Bambata had taken Magwababa to kill him. Mr Phillip Botha went and reported to the Magistrate here in Greytown. The following day European Constables went to Mpanza on horseback being accompanied by the Magistrate (Dhlovunga) to see what had happened to Magwababa. They passed Mpanza and went to Mpofana (Keate’s Drift) where there was a Police camp. They remained there the whole day. We were guarding their return. At about dusk the spies saw them coming back. The Magistrate came up to where we were hiding. Shots were fired at them and they ran away. As the Police Constables were coming up at dusk we hid in the bank of the road at Nhlenyana.

They were in separate groups. The first group passed. Then the second group was passing one of us threw an assegai in the third group and said “Usuthu”. We rose and fought. We fought the Police who ran away and we went back to our fort. We slaughtered cattle and broke into the bar of the hotel, took liquor and drank it. In the morning we went to a farm of a European “Mkhovu” where we took a horse which was ridden by Bambata. We went towards the Tugela River. Bambata sent a message to Chief Silwane Mchunu that he must arm an Impi because he, Bambata, had started a war with the Europeans. He also sent a message to Chief Nyoniyezwe Ngubane. We crossed the Tugela River and went to Nkandhla where all the Chiefs and their Impis were to meet him. On the way we caught another horse which was to be ridden by Chakijana Sithole the Chief’s main Induna. When we were crossing the Tugela river it was about full. Chakijana fired a shot in the air and then we heard that were going to Zululand. We arrived at the kraal of Induna Mangari Ndlela who took us to Induna Sigananda Shezi in the Mome bush. He slaughtered a beast for us. Sigananda collected his warriors. After a month in the Mome bush periodically fighting with Bantu warriors favouring the Europeans, one day we fought with soldiers from Eshowe from morning till sunset. Many warriors died and many were injured in this fight. Several Chiefs joined us. We moved from Mome bush to Qhudeni where we found other Chiefs with Bambata and many warriors. A man by the name of Elijah came to us and said the European soldiers had gone and we all went back to the Mome bush, not knowing that this man Elijah was sent by the European soldiers to lead us into a trap. We entered at dusk. In the Mome bush I saw someone on top of the hill lighting a match. Early in the morning the soldiers fired at us. Many warriors died. I hid under a rock till midnight when I came out of the bush and walked towards Qhudeni. On the way I met others and came back. I was arrested and kept in custody for four months. I was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Source: http://www.greytown.co.za/bambathastment.htm


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