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Source B:

Dingane had no reason to be scared. Retief’s party slept there for three nights without any incidents. Some Voortrekkers, however, became bored and walked past the main kraal.

Source C:

Dingane did not give any land to Retief because individual ownership was unheard of amongst the Zulu. In any case, the land belonged to the nation, and not to the king. This same land was temporarily lent to the British traders, but remained the property of the Zulu.

Source D:

Zulu guards saw how Voortrekker spies sauntered around the main kraal during their second visit. This was also forbidden territory for the Zulu and trespassing was punishable by death.

Source E:

The British traders did not want to sell weapons to Dingane anymore. The Voortrekkers were the ideal people from whom to obtain weapons. Unfortunately, Retief did not hand over Sekonyela’s weapons to Dingane. This upset Dingane. It made him use force in order to realise his ideal.

c) What would have happened if:

both Dingane and Retief had been able to speak English?

native Americans, and not the Zulus, had lived in Natal?

Meanwhile, the news of Mzilikazi’s defeats reached Dingane. He was shocked about the might of the Voortrekkers because not even he could have defeated the Ndebele. He wanted to be sure that the rest of the Voortrekkers would not attack him.

Therefore, the Zulu attacked the Voortrekker camps along the banks of the Bushman and Blaaukrantz Rivers early on the morning of 17 February 1838. About 500 people, of whom half were handymen and workers, died. However, the Zulu had to retreat after a temporary counterattack, but they left with 25 000 livestock. The Voortrekkers were determined to stay in Natal, but first had to recover their losses. The small town of Weenen was later established on the spot.

The attacks on the Voortrekkers at Blaauwkrantz

Potgieter was called to help the Natal Trekkers. Both he and Uys led a commando to punish the Zulu and to retrieve the Voortrekkers’ livestock.

On the way to Mgungundlovu, on 10 April 1838, the Zulu led the foremost commando of Uys into an ambush in a dense, overgrown ravine at Italeni. The Zulu had indeed expected an attack. The only thing that Potgieter’s commando could do was to concentrate all their firing power on one spot in order to open a gap through which Uys and his men could flee. Most of the people at the back were able to escape, but Uys, who was in front, was seriously wounded. When he fell from his horse, he commanded his men to flee. His son, Dirkie, however, refused to leave his father and was killed next to him. (Ask your teacher to tell you the story of Dirkie Uys!) Potgieter’s commando was afterwards called the Fleeing Commando. He then left Natal and never returned.

d) Answer the following questions on the Battle of Italeni:

Reconstruct the sketch of The Battle of Italeni by means of a model or drawing.


Explain with the aid of a comic strip how you, as a Zulu commander, would have set up an even better ambush.

Most Voortrekker laagers were moved to the Little Tugela River where they were better protected by a donga (of clay) and a turf wall. That is why this camp is sometimes referred to as the Sooilaer (turf camp). Some Trekkers even started sowing wheat and gardening, as food was very short. Therefore it was sometimes called the Saailaer (sowing camp). Meanwhile, the Zulu attacked three more times and looted more than 10 000 cattle.

Winter was very cold, wood was scarce and grazing for the cattle was inadequate. To top it all, a fire and diseases also broke out in the camps. Maritz died and Andries Pretorius, a well-known military man, was summoned from the Cape Colony. He immediately came with 500 men.

On 26 November 1838 Pretorius was chosen as chief commandant. He immediately started preparations to lead an attack on the Zulus, instead of being attacked again. He wanted to make use of a strengthened wagon laager with horsemen. The women, children and some men remained at the Sooilaer.


LEARNING OUTCOME 3: INTERPRETING HISTORY – The learner will be able to interpret aspects of history
3.1 Be aware of more than one view of the past
3.2 Distinguish between fact and opinion
3.3 Reconstruct the past


Activity 1

(a) written

  • Owen
  • 6 February 1838
  • Dingane decided to murder the Trekkers

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, History grade 7. OpenStax CNX. Sep 09, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11023/1.1
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