• VENUE: KwaMUHLE MUSEUM Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
  • TIME: Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
  • PARKING: Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance road [next to the Museum]; security person is present
  • FEATURE: CHARLES WHITEING will be talking on “ROBEY LIEBBRANDT and OPERATION WEISDORN”, which should be very interesting especially as the KZN Military Society said that “it’s a rousing tale of derring-do involving Robey Leibbrandt’s plan to assassinate General Smuts and bring about a coup d’état in South Africa with German and Ossewa Brandwag support.”


Steve Kotze began his talk [The Trappist trail] at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and briefly spoke of the Benedictine, Cistercian and Trappist monastic orders then, with an excellent balance between information, humour and illustrations, kept everyone’s attention. He then spoke about Abbot Francis Pfanner, a Trappist from Bavaria, the development of the Mariannhill Monastery [in 1882] and its many mission stations. In 1886 Abbot Francis founded Reichenau. As Trappists were expected to sleep under Trappist roofs, and Reichenau was many days’ travel away from Mariannhill, Abbot Francis established new mission stations so that it was eventually a day’s journey via each mission station to reach Reichenau. Marianthal, Einsidein, Olting, Lourdes with Emaus, Kevalar and Centocow were a few of these stations. The tension of trying to obey the Trappist rules while carrying out missionary work led to the banishment of Pfanner from Mariannhill but shortly before his death [1909 at Emaus] the Pope decreed that Mariannhill would split from the Trappist order and continue, as a new order, its missionary work. Abbot Francis Pfanner was buried at Mariannhill.


As there are with many years, in 2014 there are a number of memorials not least the fact of South Africa celebrating 20 years of democracy; there will be some athletes celebrating that fact by running the London Marathon which dates back to the 1908 Olympics.The event was first run in 1981 and has been held in the spring of every year since. Then there is the assassination in 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife who were on an official visit to the city of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a Serb-dominated province of Austria-Hungary.

Carnarvon has been in the news lately because of the launch of MeerKAT. This was also the place where the first radio listener’s licence in South Africa was issued to Dr. J van Rensburg. His licence was issued in August 1924. Still in the Karoo, Cradock came into being in 1814; firstly as the last of a line of forts built along the lower Fish River by the then governor, Sir John Cradock born in Dublin. However when Ensign Andries Stockenstrom was appointed Deputy-Landdrost and ordered to build his residency at the outpost he was not impressed with the site; after a lengthy exchange of letters with Cape Town, he was allowed to transfer his residency and in 1813 work began on a prison & houses for the court messenger and the police constable. The new village soon began to take shape, and early in January 1814 “the residence of the Deputy-Landdrost, of said district being in future called Cradock” was declared. Lord Charles Somerset, who succeeded Cradock as Governor in 1814, was not impressed by the new settlement, which he described as “a miserable place which could never advance”, and in 1825 he relocated its drostdy to Somerset East.

In 1664, Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the colony of New Netherland, surrendered New Amsterdam to the English without bloodshed. The English promptly renamed the fledgling city “New York” after the Duke of York (later King James II) and 20 years later, in 1684, the English ship Frances visited Natal on an ivory trading mission, but did not enter the bay.

Recently it has been World Water Day 2014 as well as International Day of Forests.
Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent; the UN System is collectively bringing its attention to the water-energy connection, particularly addressing inequities, especially for the ‘bottom billion’ who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food or energy services. Almost 800 million people lack access to clean safe water every day. Almost 3 ½ million people die every year because of water and sanitation and hygiene-related causes, and almost all of them (99%) are in the developing world. Every 21 seconds, another child dies from a water-related illness. In 1998 Durban was the first South African city to introduce a policy of free basic water. There is a European Union funded project that will focus on natural resource conservation and management for the development of a water-linked green-economy in the Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal, to improve natural resource protection and management; to empower communities to value the natural resources under their custodianship; and to empower communities to enter the green economy through the development of sustainable alternative livelihoods. “WESSA’s focus in this partnership is to enhance human capacity for improved catchment management and stewardship through various education processes.”

The World Health Organisation has found that every year air pollution is responsible for one in eight deaths globally and yet just one adult leafy tree can produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. Nearly half of all known species live in forests and some 300 million people live in forests worldwide, including an estimated 60 million indigenous people whose survival depends almost entirely on native woods.
Trees and forests are worth preserving!

But then so is History and Conservation both of which are aims of our Society- ‘to cultivate a love for, and appreciation of, the natural, historical and cultural heritage of South Africa and all its peoples’

Robey Leibbrandt is part of South Africa’s history so we look forward to Charles Whiteing’s talk. See you there?

Naureen Craig

Newsletter April 2014