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Gideon Scheepers

Country of Birth:

South Africa

Year of birth: 1878

Places of Residence:


Boer Hero

Gideon Scheepers was a leader among his men
I first realised that I was related to Gideon Scheepers when doing a history project in high school on my family tree. I traced him to the Robinson side of my family and discovered that his sister was married to a great great grandfather, Cecil John Robinson.

What really happened to Gideon Scheepers, the gallant 23-year-old Boer fighter who was executed by a British firing squad some months before the Anglo-Boer War was to end? Though nobody knows, since his body was never found, this young heliographer became an almost legendary figure in South African history and his name sacred to many Afrikaners.

As he was considered innocent and had become an idol because of his daring exploits in the Cape Colony, Scheepers' execution caused an outcry throughout the world.

Despite his tragic end and the public interest aroused by the secret and apparently clandestine circumstance of his death, very little is known about his exact movements and experiences.

Commandant Gideon Scheepers was born on 4 April 1878 in Middelburg in the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek. At age 16 he joined the Staatsartillerie in the Transvaal Republic and was soon a first-rate telegraphist, heliographer and later in the SA War a scout that the Boer leader, General Christiaan de Wet, prized. He took part in the Battle of Magersfontein and escaped capture when General Piet Cronje surrendered at Paardeberg

At age 22 he got the rank of Commandant and led a commando of 150 men who took on the British in the Cape Colony. He had several successes and his bravery was legendary. His mere presence in the Cape Colony inspired more Boers to take up arms against the British.

On 10 October 1901 Scheepers became ill and asked to be left behind near Prince Albert. The British captured him and jailed him in Graaff-Reinet. During his trial the British refused him his rights as an Officer and charged him with war crimes under martial law. After the court accepted some suspect testimony about the alleged war crimes he was sentenced to death and executed in 1902. He was 23 years old.

His remains was buried in an undisclosed location and the grave leveled off as you would when you bury a dog.

The British thought of him as a brigand, but among the Boers his memory lives on as that of a hero and a martyr.
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