Hlubi Chief Langalibalele becomes one of the first Black activists to be tried and banished to Robben Island

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Chief LangalibaleleSource:www.warthog.co.za

Monday, 9 February 1874

While inhabiting the area near present day Estcourt in the Drakensberg foothills, Langalibalele- a hereditary chief of the Hlubi- was summonsed to Pietermaritzburg for failure to register firearms. The Hlubi had received these firearms as a form of payment from the owners of diamond mines.

After refusing to go to Pietermartizburg, a force was sent against Langalibalele. He subsequently fled the colony, but three of the colonial troops were killed in a clash on the Bushman's River Pass. Deemed to be in rebellion, the Hlubi chief was captured and sent to Pietermaritzburg where he was put on trial by a kangaroo court which consisted of substantial procedural irregularities.

Lieutenant-Governor Sir Benjamin Pine punished the Hlubi by breaking up their location, confiscating their cattle, and imprisoning Langalibalele on Robben Island. Langalibalele was therefore one of the first Black activists to be banished to Robben Island, nearly a century before Nelson Mandela and numerous other activists were imprisoned there.

References:
• Sonderling, N.E. (ed.) (1999). New Dictionary of South African Biography, v.2, Pretoria: Vista.
• New History, The Hlubi under Langalibalele, from New History, [online], Available at newhistory.co.za [Accessed: 4 February 2009].

Last updated : 07-Feb-2014

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011