The small matter of a horse: The life of 'Nongoloza' Mathebula, 1867-1948

Charles van Onselen on 'Nongoloza' Mathebula.


Modern South Africa's industrial achievements are often pointed to with considerable pride — sometimes by outsiders, but more frequently by the powerful or privileged within the country. Viewed from the heights of the cabinet room, the company boardroom, the stock exchange or the bank, there is no doubt some justification for this pride. A country which in 1981 had a gross national product of approximately R70,000 million, a private consumption expenditure bill of almost R 38,000 million and a wage bill of close on R35,000 million is indeed, as a recent edition of the Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa put it, 'the economic workshop of the African Continent'1 Yet common sense as much as class analysis would lead one to believe that the view from the lower terrain of the townshiphouse, the mine compound or the farm hut would be more critical.

That there should be these two rather different perspectives is hardly surprising. More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that until comparatively recently — and with one or two noteworthy exceptions — historians have paid greater attention to the measured tones of pride that have floated down from on high, than to the shriller voices of criticism that have arisen from below, when attempting to assess the nature of South Africa's economic achievements.2 This in turn has helped to give rise to an imbalance in our historiography, which has charted the benefits of economic progress with considerably more enthusiasm than it has recorded the undoubted costs of industrialisation.

After the discovery of diamonds in the 1860s and gold in the 1880s, southern Africa underwent a metamorphosis which, as a recent study sharply reminds us, produced changes 'at least as harsh and disruptive as those in early industrial Britain'3 In the wake of these mineral discoveries, the majority of the indigenous population, the blacks, were systematically separated from their means of production — land and livestock — either through wars of dispossession, or through economic processes over which they were denied any form of political control by their white conquerors and compelled to undertake the move to the farms, towns and cities where they could sell their only remaining asset - their labour. Within the relatively short space of six or seven decades, hundreds of thousands of African peasants or pastoralists were reduced to the status of proletarians labouring in agriculture, mining or manufacturing in order to earn a living.

But, as in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain, where the shadow of the workhouse and the 'dark satanic mills' were an ever present reality, so South Africa spawned its own distinctively labour-repressive institutions as its industrial revolution gained momentum during the early years of the twentieth century. Amongst these were the pass laws which were designed to curtail the mobility of black workers and to confine them to the mine compounds at the heart of the new economic order — the Witwatersrand. Where the criminal sanctions of the Masters and Servants' legislation failed to restrict the employee to the mining industry, the buttressing pass laws ensured that the absconding labourer would almost certainly be confined to another largely male institution — the urban prison - thus contributing to the development of an emerging working class culture richly informed by prison experience.

These latter institutions — the mine compound and the urban prison — constitute examples of what Erving Goffman characterised as 'total institutions', or which, more recently, the French historian of ideas, Michel Foucault, has termed 'complete or austere institutions'.4 'Total institutions', suggests Goffman, may be defined as places of residence or work 'where a large number of like-situated individuals cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life'. 5 It takes little imagination to appreciate just how central a role such oppressive 'total institutions' have played in the development of the modern South African economy.6

This rather depressing scenario, however, does not constitute the full story. Peasants, proletarians and even prisoners — both then and now - cannot be seen simply as so many corks cast adrift in the swirls and eddies of a rising tide of industrialisation. Human beings, even amidst the most restrictive of circumstances, demonstrate a remarkable capacity for innovation, survival and resistance. Thus, if the 'Master task of the historian is to keep the record straight'7, then we must not only acknowledge the role which the compounds and prisons have played in our industrial revolution, but avoid mere 'radical pessimism' by being sensitive to the various ways in which the newly proletarianised resisted the stifling embrace of the 'total institutions'.

What follows is an attempt to do justice to both of these requirements, through the recounting of the life story of a largely unknown black South African who was born in the year diamonds were discovered, 1867, and who died some eighty years later, in 1948, when the outlines of modern economy and polity had long been drawn. This is done in order to show how, in the words of one distinguished analyst, social science 'deals with problems of biography, of history, and of their intersections within social structures'.8

The Making of the Man, 1867 — 1879

In 1867, in rural Natal or Zululand, a Zulu-speaker — possibly of the Amazizi clan — named Numisimani Mathebula and his wife, Nompopo, celebrated the birth of a son.9 Evidently the arrival of this child, one of four boys and two girls in the Mathebula family, caught the father somewhat unprepared since the child was promptly named Mzuzephi, meaning 'Where did you find him?'10 A few years later, possibly as a result of the political turbulence surrounding the accession of Cetshwayo to the Zulu throne, Numisimani chose to leave his native Zululand, and to re-locate his family on the farm of a certain Tom Porter in the Bergville district of Natal, 'near to where the Tugela takes its course from the mountains'.11

It was here, in the foothills of the Drakensberg during the late 1870s, that the young Mzuzephi spent most of his childhood herding his father's cattle. While little is known with absolute certainty about this important period in the boy's life, it seems possible that Mzuzephi led a slightly more solitary existence than was usual. While he almost certainly had a few friends and peers drawn from the ranks of the labourers' sons on neighbouring properties in the district, such as the farm Nineveh, this did not compensate for the absence of large numbers of black children on the Porter property; and herding, by its very nature, was a lonely occupation.12 To make matters worse the youngster does not appear to have been very close to any of his siblings and, as an adolescent, the boy was largely deprived of his father's presence since Numisimani spent most of his time away from home at a distant kraal in the Umsumkulu district where he held the rank of induna or headman.13 We can further speculate that it was during this latter period that the young man first sought solace in dagga smoking since, throughout the rest of his life, the man from Bergville evinced a strong love of cannabis.

What is known with greater certainty, however, is that in 1883, at the age of sixteen, Mathebula saw his first spell of migrant labour when he entered employment as a gardener with a man who was to affect the whole course of his life — a certain 'Mr Tom J.' of Harrismith. During the following year or two he again undertook short spells of wage labour in towns; most notably with a 'Mr M.' and his son Aleck in Harrismith where he not only developed considerable skills as a groom but, much to his delight, was given a horse in part payment for his conscientious labour before returning to Bergville.

In 1886, at the age of 19, Mzuzephi once again set out for work in Harrismith where he re-entered employment with his first-ever employer, Tom J.', who immediately placed him in charge of the horses on the property, in addition to giving him certain other duties to perform. At this juncture several crucial developments took place which, fortunately, we have recorded in Mathebula's own words-.

"Before I finished the first month of this employment one of the horses got lost. On informing my master of this he accused me of being negligent and blamed me for it. 1 told him that as I was working in the garden that day he could not hold me responsible for the loss, as all the horses were out grazing alone. He then threatened to place me in gaol if I did not go out and look for the horse that was missing, so 1 searched but I did not find it. He then told me to go back to my kraal and work for Mr. Tom Porter again, and added that Tom Porter would then bring to him the value of the horse that was lost. This amount would represent my wages for about two years . ... On returning I asked my brother whether it was the law, and whether he thought it fair that I should work and have my wages kept back for the horse which I did not lose. He told me that I must work or they would put me in gaol and added that he did not want to see me there. / told him that I could not work for what I did not lose . . . . 14

Deeply aggrieved by what he saw as an obvious injustice, and resentful at being confined to the Porter farm without any chance to accumulate savings of his own at a time when most young men of his age were contemplating marriage, Mzuzephi slowly came to the realisation that he would have to leave Bergville permanently if he were to enjoy a greater measure of freedom. Thus, when later in the same year Tom Porter sent him and another trusted employee to the Transvaal on a trip to deliver trading goods to the newly opened mining camps on the Rand, Mzuzephi used the cover of Johannesburg to slip the settler shackles which bound him to Natal.

But, if the young man was clearly anxious to evade the constricting net that had been cast by Tom Porter and 'Tom J.', then he was not yet ready to cut his ties with his family. Mzuzephi therefore found himself a position as a 'houseboy' in the suburb of Jeppe but remained in contact with his immediate kin by sending home messages and money via returning migrant workers. The Bergville Mathebulas, however, continued to be dependent on the goodwill of Tom Porter and thus when after about a year Mzuzephi's elder brother also turned up in Jeppe to take up employment, the family used the opportunity to put pressure on him to return and to arrive at a settlement with the white farmer. Mzuzephi, homesick and keen to ease the pressure on his family, gave his brother three pounds to hand over to Tom J. as compensation for the lost horse, but refused to accede to an additional demand that he accompany the brother home and hand over the money in person.15

By now fully aware of the unpleasant truth that his persecutors would always be able to reach him whilst he retained links with his home, Mzuzephi Mathebula reluctantly decided to take the final drastic step and to cut all ties with his family. He therefore relinquished his position as 'houseboy' in Jeppe, and assumed a new identity. His new name of Jan Note, at first glance an apparently random choice of Afrikaans and English names, perhaps assumes greater significance when it is appreciated that the surname was pronounced 'Not' by his black associates,16 and that in Doke and Vilakazi's Zulu-English Dictionary the word 'unotha is said to refer to 'native hemp, cannabis, satwa of the best quality'. 17 Thus, while abandoning the name through which he could most readily be traced, the young man left at least some semantic traces of his origins.

Thus it was early in 1888 that Jan Note, still smarting from injustice, took up a position as a groom with Messrs Tyson and McDonald and two others — four gentlemen who occupied a small house in a remote part of Turffontein. The new employers offered Note the attractive sum of thirty shillings a week for looking after their horses on condition that he 'told no lies', and that he did not invite any of his black friends onto the property. Accustomed to working on his own, Note readily agreed to these conditions but soon noticed that his employers kept rather strange hours. As he recalled several years later:

"After breakfast the four men would go out at about 8 or 9 a.m. on their horses and would return at midday for dinner and remain at home until it was dusk. They would then go out again and not return until about midnight. They always seemed to bring back some money with them and 1 used to see them counting it at night."18

Purely by chance, Note had taken up employment with one of the many gangs of highway robbers which thrived amidst the unsettled conditions which accompanied the birth of Johannesburg.

Tyson and McDonald took an immediate liking to their new employee who, besides attending to their horses with admirable skill, proved to be the soul of discretion and so, after about two or three months, they invited Note 'to go out with them and see how they obtained their money'.19 Over the following weeks Note served his criminal apprenticeship by observing how Tyson and his accomplices staged coach robberies, waylaid the company carts taking wages to the more remote gold mines or, less ambitiously, deprived black migrant workers of their earnings by posing as policemen who, on the pretext of going through their pockets for passes or other documents, instead removed cash from their persons.

Neither these lessons, nor the advantages that flowed from the ready use of the revolver, were lost on the eager-to-learn 'groom'. Once he had mastered the relevant techniques, however, Note started to question the value of forming any permanent association with the highway robbers. Sceptical about whites in general, and perhaps more so about his new employers, Note saw little long-term benefit in remaining a junior member of the gang. 'Learning from my experiences with these four men how easy it was to get money', he later recorded, 'I decided to start a band of robbers of my own'20

The first step towards realising this ambition was taken in early 1890 when Note established contact with a leading member of the local black underworld — a certain Nohlopa who hailed from Kwabe in Zululand. Nohlopa, impressed by Note's professionalism and sense of purpose, agreed to the formation of a partnership which would include a third man named Nhlaka.21 These three — Nohlopa, Note and Nhlaka — then based themselves in a series of rocky depressions, caves and disused mine shafts in the Klipriversberg hills to the south east of Johannesburg at a place which they called Shabalawawa. Within a year or two Nohlopa, assisted by Note whom he accorded the status of induna, presided over a loosely organised community of approximately two hundred male and female vagrants, dislocated migrants, petty thieves, burglars and armed robbers collectively termed izigebengu.22

The second step towards the realisation of Note's ambition came about largely by chance, a year or two later. In 1891 or 1892, the men and women at Shabalawawa were distressed to learn that their leader, Nohlopa, had been arrested and convicted for breaking into a tailor': shop in central Johannesburg. While in prison, Nohlopa learned to read and write and spent a considerable amount of time studying the Bible. On his release the leader returned to his stronghold in the Klipriversber and boldly informed the izigebengu that he no longer wished to lead a criminal life, and that henceforth he would spend his time preaching the word of God to blacks on the Witwatersrand. This dramatic decision left a slightly surprised Note in control of the community of criminals for the first time.23

But Note had no desire to preside over a largely shapeless riff-raff drawn from the fringes of the under world. Rather, like his family hero, Nkosi Bornvu -Shaka, the Fierce King, he envisaged being in control of a well-disciplined, tightly-structured society of Nguni speakers that was run on quasi-military lines.24 To this end he reshaped the human resources at his disposal intc a more formidable band of professional criminals whicr he named Umkhosi Wezintaba — the Regiment of the Hills. As Note himself put it later:

"The system I introduced was as follows: I myself was the Inkoos Nkulu or king. Then I had an Induna Inkulu styled Lord and corresponding to the Governor-General. Then 1 had another Lord who was looked upon as the father of us all and styled Nonsala. Then I had my government who were known by numbers, number one to four. I also had my fighting general on the model of the Boer vecht generaal. The administration of justice was confided to a judge for serious cases and a landdrost for petty cases. The medical side was entrusted to a chief doctor or Inyanga. Further I had colonels, captains, sergeant-majors and sergeants in charge of the rank and file, the Amasoja or Shosi — soldiers." 25

'This re-organisation', the 'king' pertinently pointed out, 'took place in the hills of Johannesburg several years before the 1899 war was dreamed of. As several clues in the above passage suggest, however, Note was also concerned with much more than mere criminal organisation. Still fired by the injustice which he had experienced earlier in Natal, the new leader was anxious to infuse his followers with both a spirit of resistance and a sense of social justice. In order to do this, he constantly referred to the Regiment of the Hills as being constituted from those 'who had been barked at' or, in yet another reflective metaphorical allusion, to the Umkhosi Wezintaba as being composed of 'soldiers who ate horses'.26 Like his predecessor, however, he turned to the Bible for his greatest inspiration. But, whereas Nohlopa had perhaps been influenced into giving up a life of crime through the teachings of the New Testament, Note saw greater encouragement for him and his people in the Old Testament book of Nahum27which told of how 'the state of Nineveh had rebelled against the Lord, and I selected that name for my gang as rebels against the Government's law.'28 Under Note's leadership the Regiment of the Hills thus emerged not only as a more tightly structured organisation but, perhaps more importantly, as one with a certain amount of ideological cohesion and social purpose.

There was, however, one by-product of all this reorganisation which, if at first partly unintentional, was later more deliberately and consciously fostered. The small number of women in the Klipriversberg community had always played a minor role in the affairs at Shabala-wawa and when Note assumed control, renamed the place Madalambane and laid great stress on military structures, their position was further eroded. But, although their social standing was diminished as a result of this and there was possibly a further falling off in their numbers, it did nothing to quell the desire of the men at Madalambane for female company. Indeed, in an attempt to overcome this problem, there was a constant stream of men leaving the camp and making their way to some of the less salubrious haunts of the nearby mining town. This movement threatened control and discipline in the Regiment and, given early Johannesburg's preponderance of prostitutes, produced a rank and file considerably weakened by the ravages of venereal disease.29

These problems were already causing Note growing concern when, as if to remind him, the Rietfontein Lazaretto for the isolation and treatment of serious contagious diseases was opened in a valley opposite Madalambane in 1895. This hospital, under the direction of its first superintendent, John Max Mehliss, who also gave the area its Zulu name of Kwa Milisi, pioneered the treatment of syphilis along the Rand.30 For reasons that can only be speculated about, Note responded to the establishment of the Rietfontein hospital by making new and more urgent demands of his own medical practitioners — the inyangas.31 But, while their muthi achieved sufficient success for the area around Madalambane to enjoy a reputation for herbal medicines today32 , they proved to be unequal to the challenge posed by venereal disease.33

Confronted by this medical failure. Note reached for a more radical social solution to this problem. Pointing to all women as the source of the 'poison' of venereal disease, the 'King of Nineveh' instructed his troops to abstain from all physical contact with members of the opposite sex. Instead, the older men of marriageable status within the regiment — the ikliela — were to take the younger male initiates in the gang — the abafana — and keep them as izinkotshane, 'boy-wives'. It was after this startling decree that the Ninevites at Madalambane, and more particularly those who found themselves in the even more receptive host cultures offered by the prisons and mine compounds, became closely associated with the practice of homosexuality.34

As the Regiment of the Hills came into being and then assumed its more distinctive form in the mid 1890s, so its reputation spread. In 1890, the year that Note first joined forces with Nohlopa, the Standard and Diggers' News reported on the activities of a well organised gang of 'Zulu' burglars in Johannesburg, while in 1894 and 1895 there were frequent reports of migrants being robbed of their earnings by black gangsters posing as 'policemen'.35

But despite these anti-social activities, the Ninevites also succeeded in gaining a reputation for being a body of men who — to some extent at least — searched for social justice in an unfamiliar setting where law and morality were at a premium. In June 1896, for example, in a report which found its way into the columns of The Star, a white correspondent in Natal wrote how certain Zulu migrants had told him that black men in Johannesburg had formed themselves into a 'secret society' in order to protect their interests. They told the correspondent that:

"When a man has a wrong to redress as, for instance, when his master has 'done him' out of his wages, he makes his grievance known to the Izegebengu, some of the members of which are told off to knock the offending master on the head . . .'Bakwenza ngoba ngumuzi ongenami-thetho' — they do it because it is a town without law."36

These operations which more closely approximate to notions of 'social banditry', bear the unmistakeable imprint of the Regiment of the Hills.37

In later life, Note referred nostalgically to these very successful years in the mid 1890s as the period 'when ; we were free on the hills south of Johannesburg'.38 This complex and to some extent contradictory lifestyle which the Ninevites enjoyed came under increasing threat, however, as Britain and the South African Republic moved ever closer to armed conflict in the aftermath of the Jameson Raid. When war was eventually

declared in October, 1899, and there was a dramatic exodus of people of all colours from the Rand, the Umkhosi Wezintaba was largely deprived of migrant workers as victims, or white employers as targets for social justice. Under these drastically changed circumstances Note was forced to disband the Regiment, and the majority of his followers inserted themselves into the column of black refugees making its way home to the east coast.39

For Note, however, the problem was that — unlike some of his followers — he had no home to which he could turn. He therefore gathered around him four of his most trusted lieutenants, and set to work robbing such stragglers amongst the migrant workers as they could find. When even this faltering supply dried up in late October, Note and his men were forced to move into a mine compound where, brandishing revolvers, they attempted to relieve the workers of their wages. But, denied the easier lines of retreat which the more familiar Klipriversberg offered them, the Ninevites were overpowered and arrested. A few days later, on 14 November, 1899, Jan, 'Jim', 'Jack', 'John' and 'Jonas' appeared before the Johannesburg Special Court where they wefe convicted and each sentenced to five years with hard labour and twenty-five lashes.40

The Kruger government, however, was anxious to use all of its available manpower for the war effort and it would thus appear that Note was released a few months after receiving his lashes. Always unwilling, and by now probably unable to stage a retreat to the Drakensberg, Note instead re-armed himself and once again set out to work along the ridges of the Klipriversberg. But, amidst the new atmosphere of armed vigilance as Johannesburg nervously awaited the arrival of the first British troops, this proved to be only a brief interlude of freedom.

On the night of 22 March, 1900, while making his way through the hilly outskirts of Rosettenville, Note chanced to walk into a foot-patrol of 'special constables' who were forced to stage a hasty retreat in the face of his fusillade of twenty badly directed shots. Once his ammunition was exhausted, Note was taken into custody by the badly-shaken constables. On 3 April, 1900, he again appeared before the Special Court — this time charged with attempted murder for which he was sentenced to seven years with hard labour and thirty lashes.41 But on this occasion, the war was to provide no convenient escape hatch. Note was transferred to one of the two Pretoria prisons where, for the better part of the next seven years, he and his followers entered into an open confrontation with the brutal system of prison administration presided over by Lord Milner and his reconstruction government.

The Breaking of the Man: Prison Inmate to Staff Member, 1900 — 1914

After the Transvaal had been occupied by British troops in mid 1900, the new administration made it its primary task to get the gold mining industry functioning as soon as was possible. When mining operations on a significant scale were resumed in December, 1901, however, Milner and the mining magnates made the distressing discovery that there was a grave shortage of black labour making itself available at the newly reduced wage rates. It was in response to this that the Imperial government came to the economic rescue of its new colony by allowing Milner and the mining houses to import vast quantities of Chinese indentured labour at low wages between 1904 and 1907.

Milner used the interlude provided by the advent of Chinese labour to fashion the necessary instruments of labour and twenty-five lashes.40 The Kruger government, however, was anxious to use all of its available manpower for the war effort and it would thus appear that Note was released a few months after receiving his lashes. Always unwilling, and by now probably unable to stage a retreat to the Drakensberg, Note instead re-armed himself and once again set out to work along the ridges of the Klipriversberg. But, amidst the new atmosphere of armed vigilance as Johannesburg nervously awaited the arrival of the first British troops, this proved to be only a brief interlude of freedom.

On the night of 22 March, 1900, while making his way through the hilly outskirts of Rosettenville, Note chanced to walk into a foot-patrol of 'special constables' who were forced to stage a hasty retreat in the face of his fusillade of twenty badly directed shots. Once his ammunition was exhausted, Note was taken into custody by the badly-shaken constables. On 3 April, 1900, he again appeared before the Special Court — this time charged with attempted murder for which he was sentenced to seven years with hard labour and thirty lashes.41 But on this occasion, the war was to provide no convenient escape hatch. Note was transferred to one of the two Pretoria prisons where, for the better part of the next seven years, he and his followers entered into an open confrontation with the brutal system of prison administration presided over by Lord Milner and his reconstruction government.

The Breaking of the Man: Prison Inmate to Staff Member, 1900 — 1914

After the Transvaal had been occupied by British troops in mid 1900, the new administration made it its primary task to get the gold mining industry functioning as soon as was possible. When mining operations on a significant scale were resumed in December, 1901, however, Milner and the mining magnates made the distressing discovery that there was a grave shortage of black labour making itself available at the newly reduced wage rates. It was in response to this that the Imperial government came to the economic rescue of its new colony by allowing Milner and the mining houses to import vast quantities of Chinese indentured labour at low wages between 1904 and 1907.

Milner used the interlude provided by the advent of Chinese labour to fashion the necessary instruments of legal coercion which would ensure that the mining industry was served by a tightly bound supply of cheap black labour once the indentured labourers had completed their contracts. As one historian of the period has noted:

"The Milner regime extended the pass department, created a system of courts to deal with breaches of masters and servants' legislation, introduced a scheme to register the fingerprints of all mining employees to help identify workers who deserted, and established regulations to prohibit mining companies recruiting workers in labour districts. The possibility of African workers exchanging employers to find the most congenial working conditions was therefore considerably reduced."42

The mining companies, as part of their contribution to the development of the labour-repressive regime, tightened up the functioning of the compound system during 1903.

This system, as we have already noted, not only contributed to the development of an emerging working class culture directly informed by prison experience, but brought about a dramatic increase in the size of the Transvaal's prison population. Between December, 1902, and February 1905, the number of prisoners in the colony increased from 1,800 to 4,100 and, of these, the large majority were black pass offenders on the Witwatersrand. As the Attorney General, Sir Richard Solomon, lamented during the course of a debate on the prisons in 1905: 'It is food for reflection whether we should have our gaols crowded with people for offences like that.'43

Crowded the prisons certainly were and while it was undoubtedly true that the British had hardly inherited an adequately equipped penal system from the former Republic, it was largely as a result of the Milner administration's ability to manufacture black criminals on a large scale that prison accommodation became progressively more inadequate during reconstruction — and that despite the authorisation to spend almost a quarter of a million pounds on the construction and modernisation of the Transvaal's prisons between 1902 and 1905.44

By 1904, the conditions in the largest prisons along the Reef had deteriorated to such an extent that it constituted a public scandal, and the Milner administration was forced to sanction an official enquiry. When the Commission appointed to enquire into the Johannesburg Prison presented its report to the government in January, 1905, its findings proved to be so disturbing that the administration hesitated for several months before making the document public.46 Serious confusions about the lines of authority that supposedly ran between the Director of Prisons in Pretoria and the Prison Governor in Johannesburg, were compounded by the lack of morale and high turnover amongst the more junior staff who, largely recruited from the ranks of demobilised soldiers, lacked any formal training whatsoever in prison administration. In addition to the expected findings about overcrowding, attention was drawn to the manner in which first offenders were indiscriminately herded into communal cells with hardened criminals who practised sodomy on the weaker and more vulnerable. Amidst this administrative mess, which was further soiled by the presence of bribery and corruption amongst certain officials, the prison staff tended to compensate for the disorder within their own ranks by insisting on a high standard of discipline amongst the inmates, a development which frequently resulted in the arbitrary or excessive punishment of prisoners.46

Neither the Milner administration, nor its Het Volk successor which took control of the Transvaal until the formation of Union in 1910, seriously addressed the full range of these problems.47 Instead, the British administration confined its response to dealing with the more visible physical problem of overcrowding. This unhealthy condition it attempted to alleviate in two ways. First, by pushing ahead with a building programme to increase the prison accommodation at its disposal, and secondly, by sanctioning something which the Kruger government had always resisted — the hiring out of black prison labour.48

After the establishment of the Cinderella Prison at Boksburg in 1905, considerable numbers of black prisoners were made available to the low grade mines of the East Rand. This not only helped ease the shortage of labour in the colony's premier industry at a crucial time, but also illustrated one strand of the deeper circular logic developing in the expanding capitalist economy. Having helped to modernise and render more effective a labour-repressive system that was designed to provide the mining industry with a supply of cheap black workers, the Milner regime found its prisons flooded with nominal 'criminal' offenders whom it promptly returned to the mines at even cheaper rates. As Rusche and Kirchheimer's elegant dictum has it, 'Every system of production tends to discover punishments which correspond to its productive relationships'.49 In addition to this, the practices on the East Rand obviously further facilitated the social interaction between black prisoners and mine workers.

Thus when Jan Note found himself in the Johannesburg prison in mid 1900, he soon discovered that, although he was now confined to a restrictive 'total institution', neither it nor the way it articulated with the wider political economy of the Witwatersrand posed any fundamental threat to the continued existence of his organisation. For as long as the pass laws ensured the constant flow of men into and out of prisons, and the system did not effectively separate hardened criminals from first offenders, he could continue to exercise control over an organisation which now reached out to embrace prison, mine compound and black township alike. 60 It was probably in an attempt to isolate him from this growing nexus that the authorities decided to move Note to the prison at Pretoria.

But here also it did not take long for the 'short, thickset' King of the Ninevites, with the distinctive glaring eyes that gave him his more popular name of Nongoloza, to come to the attention of the warders. Within the cells, inmates constantly made sacrifices of food, tobacco or dagga to the man who was said by the authorities to be 'held in superstitious veneration by the rank and file', while the entire prison was said to echo when Nongoloza was greeted with a cry that was usually reserved for Zulu royalty - Bayede. 61 Outside in the quarries attached to the prison, Note held court amongst the hard labourers at a particular stone, thus imparting yet another name to his gang —Abas'etsheni — the People of the Stone.62 Inevitably, this powerful counter-authority and more particularly its charismatic leader soon came into direct conflict with the prison staff.

On 28 October, 1900, Nongoloza was searched and found to be in possession of 'unauthorised articles' which he refused to hand over to a warder. This incident heralded the onset of a period of violent conflict between the Ninevite leader and the authorities which, four months later - on 17 February, 1901 - again came to a head when Note attempted to escape from prison, and was sentenced to three months in chains and twenty-five lashes. Despite this severe sentence and the infliction of dozens of other lashes which went unrecorded Nongoloza remained undaunted and, to the dismay of the prison staff, continued to exercise tight control over the Abas'etsheni. After several more months of this unresolved conflict Nongoloza eventually won this, the first major battle in a war that was to last twelve years, when the Pretoria authorities — in what was tantamount to an admission of defeat — decided to separate him from the People of the Stone by returning him to the Fort in Johannesburg.53

As we have seen, Note's return to the Rand coincided with the advent of one of the most disorganised and violent periods in the history of the Johannesburg prison. Moreover, the Fort was, if anything, even more socially suited to the needs of Nongoloza and his followers. The move from Pretoria was thus followed by a fairly predictable set of events — a marked increase in Ninevite activity in the cells, escalating conflict between Note and the prison staff and, this time on 21 April, 1902, a successful escape from prison.

Nongoloza's welcome respite from the savage war he was engaged in came to an end two weeks later when, armed with a stick, he entered a suburban home in Johannesburg in search of clothing. When he had almost completed his search and was about to leave the premises, he was surprised by the arrival of the owner, whom he assaulted before being overpowered and arrested. A little more than a month later, on 10 July, 1902, Note appeared before a judge and two assessors and pleaded guilty to various charges arising from these incidents. Characteristically brief, Nongoloza restricted his contribution to the search for justice by drawing the court's attention to the fact that during two years in prison he had been subjected to continual ill-treatment and that, to date, he had received 135 lashes in prison which accounted for his desire to escape. It is possible that Justice Auret and his assessors paid some attention to these remarks since, on this occasion, the sentence was restricted to two years hard labour which would commence on the expiration of Note's previous sentence.64

Thrust back into the bowels of the Fort, Nongoloza's fifteen-year-long rebellion against the encroaching order soon flared up into a further round of conflict with his most immediate oppressors — the prison staff. In the twelve months following his appearance before Justice Auret, he received at least thirty cuts for offences under the prison regulations ranging from the possession of 'tobacco' and threatening to strike a warder, through to assault of a fellow prisoner. In addition to these sentences which were officially recorded in the prison register, he was almost certainly lashed for other unspecified offences which once more went unrecorded.66 But, as before, this attempt to crush the inner man through an extensive assault on the outer being failed and, at some point late in 1903, Note was shuttled back to the Pretoria prison.

In Pretoria the old and by now familiar pattern repeated itself. Amongst the Abas'etshem who welcomed back Nongoloza on this occasion was one Jonas, a particularly close associate who had stayed with Note on the eve of the South African War. These two soon gathered around them an inner circle of senior Ninevites whose bonds were further strengthened by the harsh discipline which they were subjected to at the hands of the authorities. When the level of this discipline became unbearable, the group laid plans for an attempt at escape.

On the evening of 13 January, 1904, six Ninevitesunder the leadership of Nongoloza attacked and over-powered a warder, but before they could get clear of the prison buildings the badly-stunned guard managed to fire a warning shot. The sound of this attracted a party of armed warders who opened fire on the escaping prisoners wounding four of them, including Note. Despite this, the four and Jonas succeeded in making their way to the adjacent quarry where they were recaptured some hours later.56 On their return to the cells Jonas expired as a result of a heart attack but the other four made an exceptionally rapid recovery and, in Nongoloza's case, by so doing contributed to the development of a myth which held that the man could not be killed by bullets.57

Thirteen days later — on 26 January, 1904 — Note appeared before the local magistrate, charged with having contravened the prison regulations by having escaped from lawful custody. This time, in addition to making a lengthy statement which not only alleged serious mistreatment but actually named his persecutors amongst the prison staff, Nongoloza told the court that he was denied any way of airing his complaints within the system. He concluded his statement from the dock with the plea that after he had been found guilty he be allowed to serve his sentence in a different gaol. In finding Note guilty and sentencing him to a further year's imprisonment and twenty-five lashes, the Court dismissed these allegations by pointing out that he had ample opportunity to make his grievances known to the authorities. The magistrate, however, had sufficient reservations about the system for him to heed Note's plea to b'e moved from Pretoria prison and — in the only variation which the system seemed capable of — arranged for him to be transferred to Johannesburg.58

First indications from the Fort were that nothing had changed, nor would ever change. Note, now wary of new attempts by the authorities to infiltrate his inner circle through the agency of specially planted spies, responded by making Ninevite justice and punishment within the confines of the communal cells — always fierce — even more formidable. Suspected infiltrators were made to endure ritualised beating of the chest with clenched fists — Ukushaya isigubhu. Others were forced to eat large quantities of porridge before being subjected to painful blows on the abdomen — the so-called 'beating of the drum' — while yet others were tossed into the air by means of a blanket before being allowed to plummet to a concrete floor; and the more fortunate were sentenced to having their two front teeth removed. 59 The teeth thus removed — either through a blow from a wooden spoon, forcible extraction, or being cutout with the aid of a penknife — were then bored through before being added to a necklace of human teeth which Nongoloza was said to have worn.60 Under these circumstances, it is perhaps less than surprising that on 12 September, 1904, Note was once again sentenced to 20 cuts under the prisons regulations for an offence which was officially recorded as 'showing violence'.61

But then, just as this smouldering conflict threatened to reach its familiar point of incandescence, the social temperature in the cells of the Fort slowly, and almost imperceptibly, began to fall. The appointment of the Commission to enquire into the Johannesburg Prison, the opening of the new prisons on the East Rand with its consequent easing of pressure on prison accommodation, and the change of staff that gradually took place once the Selborne administration gave way to the Het Volk government, all helped to reduce tensions within the system between 1904 and 1907. This happy coincidence of chance and design received further impetus late in 1908 when the Transvaal prison system was placed in the care of a skilled administrator with a genuine desire for penal reform — the remarkable and talented Jacob de Villiers Roos.62 All of these developments were reflected on Nongoloza's back — a back which in fifty months under the Milner regime between July, 1900 and September, 1904, had been subjected to one hundred and sixty lashes was, over the next eight years, between 1905 and 1912, made to endure only an additional ten lashes.

Ironically, just as conditions started to undergo a relative improvement within the Johannesburg prison, they lurched into a decline within the compounds, slums, and black townships along the Witwatersrand. The Bambatha Rebellion which swept through parts of rural Natal between 1906 and 1908 brought thousands of Zulu migrants to the Reef where, despite the prevailing recession, many found employment in the mines where they replaced the departing Chinese indentured labourers. Here they were soon introduced to the ideas and organisation of Nongoloza with a resulting increase-in gang activity, particularly on the West Rand. On tin-York mine near Krugersdorp, for example, a party of fifty armed Ninevites launched an open attack on three white constables who were foolish enough to attempt to disrupt their manoeuvres in 1908 and four years later by 1912 — everybody in the compound, including the 'police boys', belonged to the organisation. By the eve of the First World War, then, the state had good reason to fear the extent of this counter-organisation within the country's key industry and largest labour force.63

Such was the depth of the 1906-08 recession, however, that not all of the new migrant workers who made their way to the Rand could find work on the mines This acute restriction in the unskilled job market helped account for a spate of white complaints about 'beggars', 'vagrants' and 'loafers' who, in order to avoid the penalties of tin-pass laws, once again made their way into the shelter of the caves, overhanging rocks and disused mine shafts stretching all the way from Benoni in the east to Potchefstroom in the west. Here again these gangs, which were composed partly of peasant and partly of proletarian elements, organised in the name of Nongoloza, and lived by robbery and stock theft in the manner which the Regiment of the Hills had pioneered in the late 1890s.64

In addition to this — at the same time, and for essentially similar reasons — there was a marked increase in Ninevite organisation in the black townships strung out along the line of the Reef. Vicious anti-social gangs, often presided over by some of Nongoloza's most trusted senior officers, were particularly active to the south-west of Johannesburg and in the Benoni and Boksburg districts where Cinderella Prison supplied them with a steady stream of recruits. All of this ensured that the Rand, and more especially the East Rand, suffered a steady increase in the number of violent crimes between 1908 and 1912.65

Nongoloza thus found that just as his immediate domain within the confines of the Johannesburg prison contracted somewhat between 1906 and 1908, so, for equally elusive and complex reasons, his wider empire in the caves, compounds, townships and other prisons on the Rand expanded in the years thereafter. In order to communicate more effectively with this more widely spread organisation, Note made increased use of the burgeoning number of pass offenders which the state obligingly circulated through the prison. In spite of being confined to the Fort, Nongoloza therefore remained in fairly close contact with an expanding criminal army which, by 1912, was estimated to have close on 1,000 Zulu, Shangaan, Swazi, Xhosa and Basuto adherents in the industrial heartland of South Africa.66

This communication network, which operated most effectively for most of the pre-war period was, however, disrupted between April, 1908 and April 1909, when for twelve brief months Nongoloza found himself cut off from the Witwatersrand. In April, 1908, for reasons that were probably more closely linked to the narrower issue of discipline within the Fort than the wider issue of the extent of the Ninevite organisation, of which the state remained only partially aware, the prison authorities decided to transfer Note to a smaller prison in a rural setting on the Natal border.

In the Volksrust prison, Nongoloza soon linked up with a devoted black follower, Ben Cronje, who informed him about the existence of a small group of Ninevites working in the district. On 9 July, 1908, Note, Cronje and one other escaped from the prison and broke into the adjacent court house where they removed two revolvers and seventy-five rounds of ammunition before-linking up with their outside associates. For the next three weeks this tightly-knit group moved systematically through the districts of Volksrust, Wakkerstroom and Piet Relief — stealing stock, breaking into houses, and shooting at anyone who dared to cross their path.67

Moving northwards along the Swaziland border, Nongoloza and Cronje eventually entered the mining town of Barberton in early August where, after breaking into the kitchen of the Horseshoe Hotel and helping themselves to a meal, they established themselves in an abandoned room behind the Central Hotel. Their presence there, however, raised suspicions and a white constable and two black assistants were sent to investigate. But, when the police asked Note and his companion to produce their passes, the two fugitives bolted. Abandoning Cronje, the constable and his assistants pursued Nongoloza who eventually stumbled, drew his revolver and, after several attempts, eventually managed to put a bullet through one of the black assistant's legs. Turning to deal with the constable, however, Note found that the firing mechanism on his revolver was faulty and he was arrested.68

During the next five weeks Note made several appearances in the Barberton Magistrate's Court charged with theft, housebreaking and attempted murder, and was eventually sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour — a sentence that was confirmed on review on 25 September, 1908. 69 With this necessary preliminary out of the way, the state now used the ample time at its disposal to work up an even more substantial case against Nongoloza for the earlier offences committed immediately after his escape from the Volksrust prison. Appearing in the Circuit Court charged with theft, stock theft, five counts of housebreaking and the attempted murder of an elderly white resident in the Wakkerstroom district, Note was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for the remainder of his natural life on 31 March, 1909. 70 This time, the authorities thought better than to attempt to confine Nongoloza to a small rural prison.

On 19 April, 1909, the new Pretoria Local Prison first fell silent and then reverberated to the shout of 'Bayede' — 'The King who Rules' — as the still defiant Nongoloza rejoined the Abas'etsheni. Back in personal control of his still expanding empire, Note and his immediate followers recommenced their struggle with a vengeance. In December of the same year, Nongoloza presided over a specially convened Ninevite 'court' where he and other 'judges' heard the case against Head Warder Lane, a man known to the inmates as 'Kwaai-Kwaai' (the fierce one), and Warder C.H. Dowler. In their attempt to enforce prison regulations these two officers came into constant collision with the Abas'etsheni and, after a suitably discreet pause, the high court of Nineveh sentenced Lane to death and Dowler to having his two front teeth removed.

The attempt to execute the court's sentence was made on the evening of 13 January, 1910, when the Abas'etsheni staged a diversion in the prison washrooms. This demonstration failed to attract Lane but drew Dowler who was overpowered, and had a penknife thrust through his upper gum in an attempt to cut out his front teeth. When Dowler resisted this by biting into his forearm, he was subjected to a hammer blow on the back of the head which left him unconscious for three weeks.71 Well within this time, however, several other warders had arrived on the scene and order was gradually restored. As 'judge' rather than executioner, Nongoloza's role in these disturbances remained largely undetected and he was therefore fortunate enough to avoid facing subsequent legal proceedings in a more orthodox court.72

In the thirty-six months following this attack, Nongoloza's troops were equally active outside the prison where three dramatic incidents in particular attracted widespread public attention. In December, 1910, a constable of the South African Police was stabbed to death by two of Nongoloza's 'generals' near Canada Junction in Johannesburg. In May, 1912, a black policeman was shot dead by Ninevitcs in the Benoni district and, a mere four weeks later, a white miner was clubbed to death during a Ninevite robbery in Brakpan.73

These murders — which at first appeared to be unconnected — were all carefully studied and it was during the course of these investigations that the authorities first became aware of the full extent of Nongoloza's empire, and of the fact that it embraced prison, compound and township alike. The newly formed state was not slow in formulating a reply to this novel black challenge, and in 1911 the South African parliament legislated for the 'indeterminate sentence' — a punishment that was soon inflicted on several of Nongoloza's most senior officers.74

But if the state was arming itself with new weapons to take even more stringent action against the Ninevites, then there was also another, and more subtle, force making itself felt within the very heart of the system — Jacob de Villiers Roos. After his appointment as Director of Prisons by the Transvaal government in 1908, Roos had started out on his programme of prison reform. In the short period at his disposal before 1910, however, he was capable of making only modest gains, and it was only once he was appointed to the position of Secretary for Justice and Director of Prisons by the new Union government that Roos could apply himself to his task in earnest.

At the formation of Union in 1910, Roos arranged for clemency to be extended to certain long-term prisoners — amongst them Note who had his life sentence reduced ro fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour.76 When there was a further escalation in violence during the next eighteen months, Roos responded by convening a special conference of prison superintendents in order to preside over a more wide-ranging discussion of the problems posed by the Ninevites. While this conference recommended that members of prison gangs be denied remission of sentence by prison boards, the superintendents also advocated the adoption of the single cell system, a more thorough separation of different categories of prisoners and — wherever possible — the replacement of black warders by whites.76

Roos, in a far-sighted move, made immediate use of the more liberal of these recommendations to place a sympathetic white with a fluent command of Zulu -Warder Paskin — in sole charge of Nongoloza. Then, making skilful use of the warder's linguistic gifts, Roos gradually proceeded to replace isolation with enquiry, deprivation with dialogue and lashing with listening. During the course of patient discussions held over the ensuing three months, Roos slowly nudged Note towards acceptance of the startling idea that he call a truce to his war of twenty-five years, renounce his title as 'King of the Ninevites', disband his increasingly anti-social organisation and consider working for the new state.

Nongoloza, accustomed to fighting on the more familiar terrain of vengeance and violence, lost his footing on the softer ground of sympathy and then, on 27 December, 1912, collapsed completely. Calling on Paskin's assistance, he made a lengthy statement to Roos about his life and introduction to crime, pointing out how the former administration's attempt to crush his organisation through lashing and spare diet had failed and that it was as a result of the new dispensation that he had experienced a change of heart.78 Then, in the classic switch familiar to observers of human behaviour in total institutions, Note indicated his willingness to work as a warder for the new prison administration.79

Reconstituting the Man, 1914 — 1940

Both the speed and extent of Nongoloza's capitulation caught Roos somewhat unprepared and, not surprisingly, he took his time before making the next move. During the following twelve months Roos made use of the opportunity afforded by a holiday in Europe to visit various prisons and apparently took some courage from the famous 19th century French experiment which allowed the notorious criminal Vidocq to rise eventually to the rank of a police chief.80 Back home, the Director of Prisons penned a series of articles on prison reform and then, after carefully observing his own Vidocq's behaviour for a further twelve months, took the plunge and arranged for Note to be released from prison on Christmas Eve, 1914.81

The Director, having placed his bet, proceeded to raise the stake by instructing Note to make his way to the East Rand where his first task would be to assist in the dismantling of the Ninevite stronghold in Cinderella Prison. J.S. Marwick, formerly Under Secretary for Native Affairs under the Milner regime and later a supplier of contract labour to the East Rand Proprietary Mines, was simply one of several knowledgeable observers who was excited by the potential which this move held for the disorganisation of black resistance. In an interview with the Sunday Times on 19 September, 1915, Marwick suggested that:

"The consternation that will now be caused in native criminal circles — and, indeed, among practically all natives, and especially on the mines where the Nineveh hold is strong in membership and greatly feared by non-members — by the news of Note's joining hands with the Law, will result in a wave of feeling probably unknown in such circles since the days of Chaka. Compound managers, for one thing, will heave sighs of thankfulness — if the experiment is successful."82

That success, of course, would depend on Nongoloza.

Despite two years of preparation, Note must still have found it a slightly bewildering experience to discover himself a staff member in warder's uniform rather than an inmate in prison garb, let alone being asked to persuade some of the most hardened criminals in the country about his new collaborationist role. Indeed, important parts of the old Nongoloza remained intact as, for example, when he refused to salute the prison governor for whom he had little respect. But, despite this minor setback, Roos's gamble succeeded and for eighteen months during the First World War — at a time when the state could ill afford another concerted challenge from the inmates of its prisons and mine compounds — Note assisted the authorities by blunting the Ninevite initiative on the East Rand.

In 1916, Roos transferred Note to another Ninevite stronghold, the Durban Point Prison. There, as at Cinderella, Note struggled against socio-political forces which allowed him to dent but not eradicate the organisation. Recognising these limits, Roos arranged for Nongoloza's gradual disengagement and isolation from the prison nexus with which he had been associated tor over a decade and a half. After frequent days off during which he was allowed to move freely around the city, Note eventually retired to a small plot of land which the government purchased for him in Swaziland. In May, 1917, it was reported in the press that Nongoloza, 'once the most dangerous coloured criminal in the world, now holds his head up as a respectable member of his community, and a leader amongst native agriculturalists.'83

For six years — between 1917 and 1923 — this audacious attempt by the state to reverse the economic-tide and turn a prisoner into a proletarian and then a peasant, showed every sign of becoming a permanent achievement. But then, in the mystical seventh year, Nongoloza expressed a strong desire to return to the Transvaal. Making the best that they could of this challenging development, the authorities compromised and arranged for Note to be given government employment in a place where he could be closely observed. Thus, in 1924, at the age of fifty-seven and in yet another variation on the total institution theme, Nongoloza became an orderly in the Weskoppies Mental Hospital within a mile or two of the Pretoria Local Prison.84

Back in a familiar social setting Note, by now a nominal if not a practising Christian, settled down to his new job as best as he could.86 The years of confinement in prison, however, had helped to shape his personality in certain distinctive ways and these institutional scars revealed themselves in bouts of irascible behaviour. Unwilling to become closely associated with most of his fellow orderlies, Nongoloza referred to his Sotho-speaking colleagues as 'dogs', took his meals on his own and regularly spat in the faces of those of whom he disapproved — a disapproval, it was said, that was particularly easily earned if he had been deprived of a regular supply of dagga. In escorting groups of patients around the hospital grounds he was instantly recognisable by the military manner in which the task was executed, and was said to have been given a wide berth by the otherwise omnipresent European supervisor.86

There was, however, one orderly who did win Nongoloza's friendship — a Sotho-speaker named Jim Mailula — of whom the Zulu-speaking Note made regular use in order to gain access to the softer social contours of the nearby black townships. Between 1925 and 1927, Note and Mailula made frequent visits to the Marabastad shebeens where they spent a large amount of time entertaining women friends, drinking and smoking dagga.

Nongoloza was apparently considered to be good company on such occasions not only because he was more relaxed, but because his fearsome reputation helped ensure remarkably understanding behaviour from the police during liquor raids.87

But these visits to Marabastad required not only time but money and, in order to fund these sprees, Nongoloza started to reach into his past experience. On several occasions, whilst in Mailula's company, he stopped gangs of Amalayitha 'houseboys' and — after pointing out who he was — demanded a cash tribute which was swiftly forthcoming. On a more regular basis, he took to removing vegetables from the hospital gardens which he then exchanged for beer or dagga in the shebeens, and it was this practice which brought his spell at Weskoppies to an end.

On completing his shift one afternoon in 1928, Note made his way through the hospital grounds carrying a bag filled with cabbages and pumpkins. At the main exit he was challenged by a new employee, a French immigrant named Jean Vens who, rather naively, insisted on being shown the contents of the bag. This request triggered an immediate and angry outburst from Nongoloza who promised to kill the overly conscientious security guard. This incident was apparently sufficiently explosive for the threat to be taken very seriously and, within a matter of days, the prison authorities arranged for Note to be offered a new position as a compound policeman in the distant and somewhat less tempting setting of the Premier Diamond Mine at Cullinan.88

At Cullinan, it did not take long for the old behaviour patterns to re-manifest themselves. Nongoloza refused to become too closely associated with his uniformed colleagues and, in an ironic development, apparently managed to instil so much fear in the other compound policemen that he had to be moved to a position which made greater space for his formidable personality.89 In late 1928, Note — by now over sixty years old — became a 'watchman' at the mine co-operative store. This move which allowed Note to instill a measure of fear in the populace at large rather than amongst his colleagues, seems to have worked reasonably well for about twelve months, but then disaster struck.

On Sunday night, 2 February, 1930, a party of about a dozen young men and women were making their way back to Cullinan after attending church when, opposite the co-operative store, Note appeared armed with a stick. Nongoloza accused the terrified youngsters of making too much noise and then grabbed hold of sixteen year old Miriam Ntshoanana whom he dragged into his room behind the store and raped. The young woman's cries attracted the attention of the police but Note disappeared only to be arrested by an armed detective who lay in wait for him when he returned to his room early on the following morning.90

Note eventually appeared before Justice J. Maritz and a jury in the Pretoria Supreme Court on 13 May. 1930, was declared an habitual criminal and given the indeterminate sentence — the 'new law' which he had come to fear during his discussions with De Villiers Roos some years earlier. Nine days later, on 22 May. 1930, Nongoloza was transferred to the prison at Barberton.

The Remnants of the Man, 1940 — 1948

From what little evidence we have, it would appear that the ageing Nongoloza was a model prisoner during a lengthy stay in Barberton prison. The prison register records no conflict, no attempts at escape and when, in1939, N.T. Calenbourne first met the man who had inspired the attempt to remove his father-in-law's teeth with a penknife some twenty years earlier, he saw only an elderly prisoner with bad eyesight who devoted the largest part of his day to basket-weaving.91

Yet, despite this outward calm, the authorities remained cautious and it was only after ten years of continuous quiescence that Note was released on probation. On 14 October, 1940, Nongoloza boarded the train at Barberton and settled down for the long journey to the city which he by now regarded as his home — Pretoria. But whatever sleepy thoughts and visions passed through the old man's weary mind exploded into deafening reality when, as the train entered the small farming town of Belfast, the station eehoed to the roar of 'Bayede!', 'Ngwenyama' — 'The King who Rules', 'The Lion'. There, assembled on the platform, were a dozen or more Nmcvites — some of them quite elderly — calling for Nongoloza once more to take up the reins of resistance and lead his followers.92 After disembarking and pointing out that his age militated against his taking up the offer, the short Zulu commoner whom the Sunday Times once described as having 'no appearance to command respect', rejoined the train and resumed his journey.93

In Pretoria, a somewhat less regal and altogether more familiar reception awaited the old man. Nongoloza was met by a white policeman, and after being taken around the city's police stations where he was introduced to those who might be so ill-informed as not to recognise him while doing their rounds, he was escorted to the Native Commissioner's office which had been instructed to find him a job. This time Note was made a guard at the Pretoria General Hospital where, especially during the war years, some black workers had taken to augmenting their incomes by pilfering and selling hospital supplies. This well-meaning attempt to put the old wolf into sheep's clothing apparently worked well for some time but then, in 1943, several of the hospital's employees were arrested and convicted of the theft of butter and other supplies. Whether or not Nongoloza was originally in cahoots with this group is difficult to tell but, on their release, these workers returned to the hospital where they accused Note of stealing some of their possessions whilst they were in prison.94

It was on the occasion of this charge being laid that a frightened young black constable, John Swakamisa, was sent to arrest Nongoloza. Swakamisa, however, had heard about the old man's nominal Christianity and by approaching Note with a great deal of saluting, praise-singing and praying, managed to effect an arrest without the exercise of violence. Nongoloza's appreciation of these courtesies apparently won him the old man's respect, and the friendship was consolidated when, after further examination, the charges of theft against Note were dropped. After this incident Note apparently made regular use of Swakamisa's linguistic skills in order to help him communicate with the authorities and, more importantly, to negotiate the social world of Marabastad.96

These events, however, cost Nongoloza his job and at some stage during 1945 he took up his last paid position as a 'night watchman' at a soft drink bottling company in the city. But, even here, conflict continued to swirl in the footsteps of the man. One evening, for reasons that are not clear, a party of young Afrikaners threw bricks at the seventy-eight year old Note. Although unharmed Nongoloza was outraged by this attack and, through Swakamisa, got the police to investigate the incident. When these investigations failed to result in a charge being laid Note — perhaps recalling his earlier access to De Villiers Roos — continued his search for justice by asking several senior civil servants why it was that when he committedan offence he was promptly convicted, but that when he was assaulted the police were incapable of even arresting his assailants?96

Shortly after this Nongoloza left the bottling company and for most of 1946 and 1947 drifted around Marabastad leading a hand-to-mouth existence. Swakamisa remembers him during those closing years as being armed with a bottle of liquor and accompanied by a thirty year old female companion for whom he showed scant respect, seeking frequent night-time shelter in the municipal reception compound. This continuing 'rage to live', however, was severely dampened a few months later when Note was admitted to the Pretoria General Hospital suffering from advanced tuberculosis. Here, after being treated for three months, he died at the age of eighty-one on 11 December, 1948.97 When nobody came forward to claim the body, the state arranged for the normal pauper's funeral and two days later, on 13 December, 1948, Nongoloza was buried in shared grave number 1438, in 'Native Section "D" ' of Pretoria's Rebecca Street Cemetery.98

Nongoloza's Legacy

Despite the fact that he died over thirty years ago, and despite the fact that his major struggle against the encroaching order and its accompanying injustices was confined to a ten year period over eighty years ago, Nongoloza's name continues to evoke a significant response amongst many black South Africans. The basic reason which underlies this lingering echo is not difficult to determine because, while much has undoubtedly changed since the advent of our industrial revolution, so much has stayed the same. For, as long as our economy remains heavily reliant on labour-repressive institutions and instruments such as compounds, prisons and pass laws, so Nongoloza's name will — for a variety of reasons and in a number of different ways — continue to resonate with the lived experiences of some of the weak, the under-privileged and the unashamedly criminal in our society. What follows is simply a brief attempt to highlight a few of the more obvious areas that are in need of further professional investigation.

First, the complex tangle of fact and fiction that surrounds the name of Nongoloza needs to be unraveled, separated out and aligned with the historical evidence so that we can arrive at an assessment of the importance of this strand of thinking that continues to be intertwined in the political consciousness of black South Africans Several of the more interesting of these ideas clearly hark back to Note's earlier experiences and the events surrounding the formation of the Regiment of the Hills. A fair number of Africans can still identify, the original injustice which first fired Nongoloza's struggle, and have a good understanding of the role which the Umkhosi Wezintaba played in attempting to divert the flow of Nguni-speaking peasants from wage labour in the mine compounds into a freer existence in the Klipriversberg.99 Viewed from this perspective Nongoloza is seen as a social bandit who led a legitimate form of black resistance against the process of proletarianisation by directing a campaign of robbery and violence against the more powerful and wealthy in the country — the whites.100

Surrounding these ideas, however, are a cluster of far more widely held beliefs — amongst them the notions that Nongoloza was in possession of a particularly powerful muthi which allowed him to make himself invisible, that he could walk through prison doors at will, and that bullets could not penetrate his body. 101 In addition, some informants believe that Nongoloza, like the Zulu King Dinizulu, was forced to spend a period of his life in exile, and that it was probably during this period that ; he acquired his magic potion.102 Precisely because he possessed these powers whites 'feared that he could easily take over the country' and, in desperation, were ;forced to develop a potion which, on being injected into Nongoloza led to partial paralysis and eventual death.103 ' While many of these ideas can be traced back to the period 1890 — 1910, and to some extent accord with the years spent in the Klipriversberg or the early prison experiences, most social scientists will be quick to point out that very similar ideas became attached to othercharismatic leaders in colonial and de-colonising Africa during periods of exceptionally rapid social change in the twentieth century. Beliefs about invulnerability to bullets or the limitations of colonial prisons have, for example, been closely associated with religious leaders like Simon Kimbangu in the Congo during the 1920s and 1930s, or with political leaders like Kwame Nkrumah during the period that he was leading the Convention Peoples Party to Ghanaian independence in the early 1950s.104 Seen in this light then, Nongoloza — at least for the earlier part of his career — can be seen as something of a proto-nationalist. If this is true, then what is interesting about South Africa is the way in which it allowed for 'criminal' as well as for the more usual religious or political expressions of early nationalism to gain a foothold within the dominated classes.

Secondly, while Note's personality continues to conjure up a series of sometimes contradictory images in the minds of an older generation of township dwellers, a new and younger generation of work-seekers — who may or may not have heard of Nongoloza — continue to be forced into a set of circumstances which the original Ninevites would have recognised with alacrity. In our mine compounds, where the overwhelming majority of black workers are denied the right to family life, homosexuality continues to play its part not as an expression of personal sexual preference but largely as a result of the deprivations experienced within the confines of a total institution.

Equally serious is the manner in which the pass laws continue to drive thousands of Africans into a twilight existence as they desperately try to establish a toe-hold in the urban areas of the country. The outward and most easily recognised of these signs are the well known 'squatter camps', or the dangerously over-crowded homes of workers in the townships. But, unenviable as the lot of the squatters and the tenants may be, there-are hundreds of others who have been forced by the pass laws to seek an even more marginal physical refuge and these are the true 'people of the abyss'. Thus a recent visit to the site of the original Madalambane a ten minute walk from the motorway linking Johannesburg to its international airport showed clear evidence of people still living under rock-overhangs, in small caves, and disused mine shafts. Nongoloza might be gone, but the system which provided him with a regular flow of recruits in the 1890s, continues to produce a steady stream of marginals in the compounds and Klipriversberg of the 1980s.

Thirdly, there is an urgent need for an exhaustive and sensitive inter-disciplinary study of the prison gangs and the gang warfare which continues to plague the modern South African penal system. A survey undertaken by the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cape Town, for example, indicated that between March, 1974, and December, 1977, there were at least forty gang murders within the prisons of the Western Cape alone.106 Nearly half of the cases which arose as a result of these brutal murders involved members of the notorious '28' gang — a grouping directly descended from the original Ninevites. Indeed, such are the historical continuities within this grouping that today, nearly a hundred years after the formation of the Umkhosi Wezintaba, the members of the '28' gang still greet one another with the saying 'Umkhosi odla amahhashi' — a phrase which defies ready translation but which in effect means 'we of the regiment who repossess the value of the horse'.106

Here again, there is a poignant reminder that in a racially divided society without moral foundation there can be no absolute separation of the 'criminal' from the 'political'. This point is further underscored when it is understood that some of the gang off-shoots like the 'Big 5' who collaborate with the prison authorities have adopted the swastika as their symbol, while yet others like the 'Air Force' — who resist the system, have incorporated the hammer and sickle into their insignia.107

Prison gangs may have the most crudely developed ideas about power relationships within the wider society, but there is no denying that they do manifest some degree of political consciousness and that, should the current order ever be seriously challenged, only a small minority would — albeit 'for the most fickle and opportunistic ot reasons — identify with the ancien regime. After all, we can safely assume that when the Bastille was stormed on that fateful day in 1789, not all the inmates were found reading Rousseau before pouring out onto the streets of Paris and playing their part in the birth of a new society. In retrospect then, we can see in the life of Mzuzephi Mathebula the story of one man's search for justice set within the context of the most important labour-repressive institutions that developed during the South African industrial revolution. In doing this we hope to have provided a readily identifiable local illustration of the late C. Wright Mills's neat assertion that: 'the biographies of men and women, the kinds of individuals they variously become, cannot be understood without reference to the historical structures in which the milieux of their everyday life are organised.'108 What South Africans have to ask themselves is to what extent the historical structures in which the milieux of the everyday lives of our labouring population are organised have changed in over a century?

Who made Nongoloza?


1. Official Yearbook of the Republic of South Africa 1980/81, p.313. The figures provided in this paragraph are derived from South African Reserve Bank, Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics, Jan. 1982.

2. Exceptions that come to mind include E. Roux, Time Longer than Rope (London 1949), and H.J. and R.E. Simons, Class and Colour in South Africa, 1850 - 1950 (Hammondsworth 1969).

3. S. Marks and R. Rathbone (Eds.), Industrialisation and Social Change in South Africa: African Class Formation, Culture and Consciousness, 1870 -1930 (London 1982), p.l.

4. E. Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates (Hammondsworth 1968) — hereafter Asylums, and M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth <>' the Prison (Hammondsworth 1977) — hereafter Discipline and Punish.

5. Goffman, Asylums, p.11.

6. On the role of the compounds see F.A. Johnstone, Class, Race and Gold (London 1976), pp.38-3V or C. van Onselen, Chibaro: African Mine Labour in Southern Rhodesia 1900 - 1933 (London 1976), pp.128-194. On prison labour, see for example, T.M. Corry, Prison Labour in South Africa (Cape Town 1977), or F. Wilson, 'Farming. 1866 - 1966' inM. Wilson and L.M. Thompson (Eds.), The Oxford History of South Africa, Vol 2, 1870 - 1966, especially pages 146-149.

7. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (Harmondsworth 1970), p.161.

8. Ibid., p.159.

9.The assertion that Mzuzephi's family name was Mathebula derives from the oral tradition of prison inmates. See especially E.R.G. Keswa, 'Outlawed Communities' (unpublished typescript, dated 1975) p.5. The suggestion that the Mathebulas formed part of the Zizi clan is based on the fact that we know that the young man grew up in the Bergville district where the Amazizi are still to be found, and on Mzuzephi's suggestion that his father's name was 'Nkosi Bomvu' — a name which features in Zizi genealogies. See 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime' in South Africa, Department of Justice Annual Report 1912 (Pretoria 1913), p.238 - hereafter 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime'.

10. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.238.

11. For an account of Zulu history during this period see J. Guy, The Destruction of the Zulu Kingdom (Johannesburg 1982); and 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.238.

12. Note how, for example, E.J. Hobsbawm points to herdsmen between the age of puberty and marriage as the largest single category to be found amongst social bandits. E.J. Hobsbawm, 'Social Banditry' inH. Landsberger (Ed.), Rural Protest (London 1974), p.152.

13. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.238.

14. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.239.

15. Ibid.

16. See Simon (Mahlaba) and Thomas (Mtimkulu), 'Report of the Work', Africa's Golden Harvests (Johannesburg), December, 1924, pp.172-173. I am indebted to Dunbar Moodie for drawing this reference to my attention. See also University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute, (A.S.I.), Oral History Project (O.H.P.), Tape No. 94, Interview with Rev. G. Sivetye, conducted at Groutville, Natal, by T.J. Couzens and A. van Gylswyk, on 23 October, 1978. (Hereafter A.S.I., O.H.P.,Tape No. 94, Sivetye interview, 23 October,1978.)

17. C.M. Doke and B.M. Vilakazi,Zulu-English Dictionary (Johannesburg 1958), p.587. My thanks to Tony Traill who drew my attention to tins connection.

18. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.239.

19. Ibid.

20. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912. p.240.

21. See Simon Mahlaba's account in 'Report of the Work', Africa's Golden Harvests (Johannesburg), Dec. 1924, p.173, and 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.237.

22. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.237.

23. Ibid.

24. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.238.

25. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.237.

26. See University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute (A.S.I.), Oral History Project (O.H.P.), Tape No. 186, Interview with Mr. J. Mailula conducted by M. Molepo at Mamelodi, Pretoria, on 16 August, 1982. (Hereafter A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 186, Mailula interview, 16 August, 1982)

27. The book of Nahumis filled with verses which Note could have found suggestive. Amongst others: 'The Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he rcserveth wrath for his enemies' (Chapter 1, verse 2); 'Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold', (Chapter 2, verse 9); 'Woe to the bloody city! It-is full of lies and robbery', (Chapter 3, verse 1); or 'There is no healing of thy bruise, thy wound is grievous', (Chapter 3, verse 19).

28. 'Jan Note's Life and Introduction to Crime', 1912, p.237.

29. See the oral tradition of prison inmates as recounted in E.R.G. Keswa, 'Outlawed Communities (1975), p.5. For the wider context see C. van Onselen, 'Prostitutes and Proletarians, 1886 -1914', Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, 1886 - 1914, Vol. 1, New Babylon (London 1982), pp.103-162.

30. T. Collins, 'The History of Rietfontein Hospital' (2 page unpublished manuscript, 1980). I am indebted to Dr. Collins for supplying me with a copy of this document as well as with other information relating to Rietfontein and Dr. J.M. Mehliss.

31. See, for example, University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute (A.S.I.), Oral History Project (O.H.P.), Tape No. 178, Interview with Mr. J. Mailula conducted by M. Molepo at Mamelodi, Pretoria, on 2 October, 1981. (Hereafter A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 178, Mailula interview, 2 October, 1981).

32. See, for example, University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute, Oral History Project Tape No. 187, Interview with Mrs. Mankailan^ Maria Molokoe conducted by T.T. Flatela at Tembisa, 10 February, 1982.

33. See E.R.G. Keswa, 'Outlawed Communities'. (1975), p.5.

34. See 'Statement by Jan Note' in South Africa. Department of Justice Annual Report 1912 (Pretoria, 1913), p.238 (hereafter, 'Statement by Jan Note'); E.R.G. Keswa, 'Outlawed Communities (1975), p.5; and Archives of the Transvaal Chamber of Mines, Johannesburg, 1889 - 1910, N. Series, File N. 35, 'Unnatural Native Vice Enquiry, 1907', pp. 1-2.

35. See, for example, various reports in the Standard and Diggers' News dated 31 January, 1890; 21 August, 1894; and 7 January, 1895.

36. 'Izigebengu', The Star, 16 June, 1896. See also C. van Onselen,'The Witches of Suburbia: Domestic Service on the Witwatersrand, 1890 - 1914', in Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, 1886 - 1914, Vol. 2, New Nineveh (London 1982), pp. 54-55. (Hereafter New Nineveh).

37. On 'Social Banditry' see the following by E.J. Hobsbawm: Bandits (London 1972), p.17, and more generally 'Social Banditry' in H. Landsberger (Ed.), Rural Protest (London, 1974).

38. 'Statement by Jan Note', 1912, p.238.

39. See Ipepa lo Hlanga, 20 November, 1902. My

thanks to Peter Warwick who drew this reference to my attention.

40. 'The Special Court', Standard and Diggers' News, 13 and 15 November 1889. See also entry dated 14 November 1899 in extract made available to author from Pretoria Prison Register.

41. 'The Special Court', Standard and Diggers' News, 4 April, 1900.

42. P. Warwick, 'African Labour during the South African War, 1899- 1902'. Seminar paper presented at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, October, 1975.

42. As quoted in 'Prisons', The Star, 25 July, 1905.

43. 'Prison Commission Report', The Star, 20 March, 1905.

44. See especially the leader article on 'Prisons', The Star, 25 July, 1905.

46. See Report of the Commission appointed to Enquire into the Johannesburg Prison 1904 -1905, especially pages XXI1 - XXVI. On the question of excessive punishment, see for example, Transvaal Archives Depot (T.A.D.), Colonial Secretary (C.S.), Vol. 88, File 4394, H. Tennant, Sec. to the Law Dept. to Acting Sec. to the Transvaal Administrator, 10 May, 1902.

47. See, for example, the critical remarks made by P. Duncan during the course of the debate on the second reading of the 'Prisons and Reformatories Bill' in Union of South Africa, Hansard, First Session of the first Parliament 1911, cols. 984 —985.

48. See T.M. Corry, Prison Labour in South Africa (Cape Town, 1977), pp. 126-127.

49. G. Rusche and O. Kirchheimer, Punishment ami Social Structure (New York, 1939), p.5. It also, of course, provided yet one more point of contact between the inmates of prisons and compounds.

50. See C. van Onselen, The Regiment of the Hills Umkhosi Wezintaba: The Witwatersrand's Lumpen proletarian Army, 1890 - 1920' in Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, 1886 - 1914, Vol. 2, New Nineveh (London, 1982), pp. 180-189. (Hereafter 'Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh.) For the spread of the Ninevites to the black townships before World War I see T.A.D., Dept. of Justice, Vol. 144, File 1, Item 3/778/12, Detective A.J. Hoffman to Officer in Charge, Criminal Investigation Department, Johannesburg, 12 August, 1912.

51. See C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 180. On the importance of the quarries and the 'reserve camp' at the Meintjieskop Prison in Pretoria see, for example, the following reports in The Star: 'A Gaol Outbreak', 30 April, 1908; 'Convicts in Court', 12 May, 1908; 'Native-Convicts', 14 May, 1908; 'Convict Outbreak', 14 January, 1910; and 'The Prison Case', 27 January, 1910.

52. C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 172.

53. See entries for 28 October, 1900 and 17 February, 1901, in extract from the Pretoria Prison Register.

54. 'Special Criminal Session', The Star, 10 July, 1902.

55. See entries dated 24 December, 1902, 12 March, 1903, and 21 July, 1903, in extract from Pretoria Prison Register.

56. See items relating to the escape and its sequel in the Pretoria News of 14 and 15 January, 1904.

57. 'The Gaol Escapes', Pretoria News, 26 January, 1904. On the development of the myth see, for example, A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 178, Mailula interview, 2 October, 1981, and footnote 101 below.

58. 'The Gaol Escapes', Pretoria News, 26 January, 1904; and entry in extract from Pretoria Prison Register.

59. See C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, pp. 182-184; or Report of the Commission appointed to Enquire into the Johannesburg Prison, 1904-05, evidence of Prisoner'Be', pp.61-63.

60. See, for example, Simon Mahalaba's 'Report of the Work', Africa's Golden Harvests, Dec. 1924, p.173.

61. See entry dated 12 December, 1904, in extract from Pretoria Prison Register.

62. For Roos's background see Dictionary of South African Biographies, Vol. Ill (Cape Town 1977), pp. 721-723; and debate on 'Prisons and Reformatories Bill', Union of South Africa, Hansard, 3 February, 1911, cols. 979-980.

62. See C. van Onselen, 'Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 188.

63. See especially C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 185.

65. See generally T.A.D., Dept. of Justice, Vol. 144, File 1, Item 3/778/12 and, more especially, Det A.J. Hoffman to Inspector in Charge, C.I.D., Johannesburg, 12 August, 1912. AlsoC.van Onselen, The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, pp. 185-186.

66. C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 182.

67. See, for example, 'Sensational Arrest', and 'A Further Outrage', in Goldfield News and Barberton Herald, 4 August, 1908; and C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 180.

68. This episode is recounted in 'Sensational Arrest' and 'Housebreaking and Attempted Murder' in the Goldfield News and Barberton Herald, 4 August and 4 September, 1908. See also C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 181. The eventual fate of Cronje and other members of the gang is reported in 'Police Exploit' and 'Native Criminal Gang', in The Star, 13 January, 1909 and 22 April, 1909. For some childhood memories of Nongoloza's gang activities in the Barberton district see University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute, (A.S.I.), Oral History Project, (O.H.P.), Tape No. 183, Interview with Mr. S.Mbuli conducted by T.T. Flatela at Daveyton, 15 February, 1982. (Hereafter A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 183, Mbuli Interview, 15 February, 1982.)

69. See T.A.D., Barberton Criminal Record Book(1905-19 December, 1910), Case No. 2507 of 1908; T.A.D., ZTPP, 3/154 of 1908, pp. 443-446; and T.A.D., ZTPD, Case 188 of 1908, p. 130.

70. See entry dated 31 March, 1909, in extract from the Pretoria Prison Register.

71. Interview with C.H. Dowler's son-in-law, Col. N.T. Calenbourne, conducted by C. van Onselen at Sandton,'17 February, 1982.

72. See 'Convict Outbreak' and 'The Prison Case' in The Star, 14 January and 29 January, 1910.

73. These events are recounted in some detail in C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, pp. 189-191.

74. See, for example, 'Habitual Criminals Bill — Second Reading' in Union of South Africa, Hansard, 3 February, 1911; and C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, p. 190.

75. See entry dated 4 November, 1910, in extract from the Pretoria Prison Register.

76. See Union of South Africa, Annual Report of the Department of Justice 1912, pp. 236-237.

77. The importance of language as a mechanism to help retain self respect and identity in total institutions is discussed in Goffman, Asylums, p. 48.

78. The former administration tried to do it by harshness and failed. We were lashed and starved and still Nineveh flourished. We swore to maintain it at all costs. We even passed sentence of death on a former director of prisons and had he come amongst us in the yards he would most certainly have died But the new law (the indeterminate sentence? C.v.O.) and the new prison administration have made me change heart'. From 'Statement by Jan Note', 1912, p.237.

78. See, for example, Goffman, Asylums, pp. 62-63.

80. On Roos's trip see Dictionary of South African Biographies, Vol. Ill (Cape Town 1977), p. 722 and, on the inspiration provided by the Vidocq case 'Jan Note's Reform', Sunday Times, 19 September, 1915; 'Notorious ex-leader of the Nineveh', Cape Times, 29 May, 1917; or H.A. Chilvers, 'The Strange Tale of the Four Chiefs', The Outspan, 26 August, 1933. (My thanks to Chris Rogerson for drawing the latter source to my attention.) On Vidocq see, for example, M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish (Harmondsworth 1977), p. 283.

81. See entry dated 24 December, 1912, in extract from the Pretoria Prison Register.

82. 'Jan Note's Reform', Sunday Times, 19 September, 1915.

83. 'Notorious ex-leader of Nineveh', Cape Times, 29 May, 1917.

84. The date of Nongoloza's arrival at Weskoppies is best determined from Simon Mahalaba's 'Report of the Work', Africa's Golden Harvests (Johannesburg), December, 1924, p.173.

85. Ibid. See also, however, the 1926 - 1927 visit to Weskoppies by another black clergyman as recorded in A.S.I., Tape No. 94, Siveetye interview, 23 October, 1978..

86. This paragraph is based on A.S.I., O.H.P., Tapes Nos. 178 and 186, Mailula interviews, 2 October, 1981, and 16 August, 1982.

87. Ibid.

88. Ibid.

89. Interview with Mr. Rufus Mamobola conducted by M. Molepo at Atteridgeville, Pretoria, on 3 March 1982.

90. See T.A.D., Transvaal Provincial Division (T.P.D.), Supreme Court Case No. 3/358 of 1930, Rex vos Jan Nankiloos.

91. Interview with Col. N.T. Calenbourne conducted by C. van Onselen, at Sandton, 17 February, 1982.

92. Interview with Mr. J.R. Moletsane conducted by M. Molepo at Atteridgeville, Pretoria, 2 October, 1981.

93. 'Pest of Society', Sunday Times, 16 June, 1912.

94. University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute (A.S.I.), Oral History Project (O.H.P.), Tape No. 176, interview with Mr. John Svvakamisa, conducted by M. Molepo at Moretele, 25 November, 1981. (Hereafter, A.S.F, O.H.P., Tape No. 176, Swakamisa interview, 25 November, 1981).

95. Ibid.

96. Ibid.

97. See copy of Death Certificate No. 7895 issued by Dept. of Internal Affairs, Pretoria, 26 September, 1982.

98. Extract from Burial Register, Rebecca St. Cemetery, Pretoria — see entries for Jan Nongoloza and John Magatie.

99. See, for example, A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 176, Swakamisa interview, 25 November, 1981. More generally see C. van Onselen, 'The Regiment of the Hills', New Nineveh, pp. 193-194.

100. See, for example, 'Scrutator's' (R.V. Selope Thema's) column on Jan Note in Bantu World, 5 December, 1942, or A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 176, Swakamisa interview, 25 November, 1981.

101. University of the Witwatersrand, African Studies Institute (A.S.I.), Oral History Project, (O.H.P.), Tape No. 179, Interview with Mr. July Gosa conducted by J. Phiri at Wattville, 4 February, 1982 (Hereafter, A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 179, Gosa interview, 4 February, 1982). See also, A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 176, Swakamisa interview, 25 November, 1981; A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 183, Mbuli interview, 15 February, 1982; and A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 186, Mailula interview, 10 March, 1982.

102. See, for example, A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 179, Gosa interview, 4 February, 1982; or A.S.I., O.H.P., Tape No. 183, Mbuli interview, 15 February, 1981.

103. Interview with Mr. J. Makoti conducted by M. Molepo at Attendgeville, Pretoria, 19 October, 1981.

104. On Kimbangu see, for example, E Andersson, Messianic Popular Movements in the Lower Congo (Uppsala 1958), p. 69; and on Nkrumah, W. Assimeng, 'Religious and Secular Messianism', Research Review (University of Ghana), Vol. 6, No. 1, 1969, p.17.

105. N. Haysom, Towards an Understanding of Prison Gangs (Institute of Criminology, University of Cape Town 1981), pp. 38-45.

106. Interview with Mr. V.N. Nkumane by C. van Onselen Johannesburg, 5 February, 1983.

107. See E.R.G. Keswa, 'Outlawed Communities', 1975

108. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, p.175.

From Collective Action Notes. Published by Ravan Press, Johannesburg, 1984