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Danie Theron – a military hero with a message

Apr 10, 2019

Just outside Fochville on the road between Johannesburg and Potchefstroom stands a monument that commemorates one of the bravest Boer warriors of the Anglo Boar War. The Danie Theron Monument lies high against a reef quite close to the N12, but if you go to the trouble to walk (or clamber) the few hundred metres to the top to see the tall obelisk from up close, you will realise that it was worth the while.

Danie Theron will be remember by descendants as the founder of the Theron Verkenningskorps (TVK) (English: Theron Scouting Corps) – a unit that is regarded as the precursor of the SA Defence Force’s reconnaissance division. Theron fought in the Anglo Boer War together with about 100 scouts, scouting on bicycles and compiling information on the British forces.

He was born in Tulbagh on 9 May 1872. He qualified as a teacher and taught in Kroonstad. Shortly thereafter, he qualified as lawyer and opened his own practice in Krugersdorp. This is also where he fell in live with Hannie Neethling. They got engaged, but Hannie died of pneumonia in August 1898 and was buried on their family farm Eikenhof.

During the war, Danie and his team of scouts repeatedly participated bravely in battles. According to the historian Fransjohan Pretorius, General Louis Botha later commented on Danie: “He was as soldier obedient and loyal, as officer fearless and competent, as soldier a hero. I have never met anyone who acted more resolutely, who completed a difficult task in higher spirits, either as leader, as spy or as commander during an attack. The word ‘no’ was unknown to Theron. What was assigned to him, he did. Transvaal never rendered a braver man.”

Danie’s valour led to his death on 5 September 1900, however. In Gatsrand, the area in which the Danie Theron Monument rises out today, Danie scouted an English convoy and decided to set a trap for the it. However, he was surprised by four English scouts. The hill on which Danie was spotted was bombarded with cannon fire and Danie fatally wounded.

Danie, the brave hero with the message, was later interred next to his beloved Hannie – just as he wished.

Today, the Danie Theron-monument is a reminder of this brave fighter. And according to the plague at the foot of the monument, the flame at the tip of the obelisk symbolises the flame of freedom that had burnt in the hearts of Danie Theron and the Boers who defended their freedom, independence and Vierkleur (the flag of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, or Transvaal).

 

About the author

Ilze Nieuwoudt

Ilze Nieuwoudt is die publikasiebestuurder by AfriForum.

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