Bambatha Rebellion 1906

Men of the Durban Light Infantry stand guard over Bhambatha's body. (Photo: Transvaal Leader Weekly Edition, 30 June 1906).

Aftermath of the Bhambatha Rebellion 1906

The Bambatha Rebellion claimed the lives of 4000 Zulu and 30 white people and cost the colonial government £740,000. Some of the Zulu died fighting on the side of the Natal government. More than 7,000 people were imprisoned and 4,000 were flogged. Chiefs who had supported the rebels were arrested and charged with high treason. They were initially sentenced to death, but their sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment on the island of St. Helena. In 1910 they were granted amnesty and resumed their roles as chiefs.

King Dinizulu was arrested near Nongoma. His trial took place in Greytown. Although he was defended by William Philip Schreiner, a top lawyer from the Cape Colony, Dinizulu was convicted of treason and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Upon his release he was banished to Rustenburg in the Transvaal, where he later died.

The Bambatha Rebellion was the last armed resistance against white rule in before the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. The Zulu population of Natal were pushed deeper into poverty and pushed into become a souce of cheap labour for the new capatilist state and in particular for the mining and agricultural sector. However, with the failure of the Rebellion, and the political exclusion of Africans, Coloured and Indians from the new Union constitution, forced the new urban European educated and traditional African leadership to establish the first national political formation the South African Native Congress, from which to challenge white rule. Bambatha became a source of pride and inspiration to both nationalists and socialist anti-apartheid activists and movements over the years.

Please note that the spelling of Bambatha varies from source to source. The spelling Bambatha is also regulary used.

Last updated : 19-Apr-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 30-Mar-2011