Lang Hans van Rensburg, early Voortrekker leader, is born

Thursday, 12 August 1779

Johannes Jacobus Janse (Lang Hans) van Rensburg was born on 12 August 1779 at the Sundays River in the Cape Colony, now the Western Cape. After participating in the Sixth Frontier War (1834-5), van Rensburg decided to head northwards and become one of the first Voortrekkers, presumably due to dissatisfaction with British rule at the time.

Van Rensburg and his followers met up with Louis Trichardt at the Caledon River in July 1835, and some of his followers transferred to Trichardt's group. Both groups then proceeded to head northwards, but split up after a disagreement at Strydspoort (from the Afrikaans word for 'fight') near the Olifants River.

After deciding not to wait for the Trichardt group, van Rensburg and his party continued to trek towards Delagoa Bay, present day Maputo. Their trek led them through the present day Kruger National Park up to the Limpopo River. There they outspanned at Chief Masambo's kraal, opposite the Zulu chief Manukosi.

Later, van Rensburg realized that the rivers further south could not be crossed by ox-wagon, decided to continue towards Inhambane instead of Delagoa Bay. In July 1836, they surprised by an impi of Manukosi led by Malitel. After putting up a fight they eventually ran out of ammunition and the entire trek was massacred.

The only survivors of the attack were two children, who were led off by a Zulu warrior under his shield during the battle. These children later died of malaria, and were buried 65km north of the confluence of the Olifants and Limpopo rivers, where Carel Trichardt, Louis Trichardt's son, later buried the rest of the group in 1839.

References:
• Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970) Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 11, p. 162.
•  Wallis, F. (2000) ;
Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

Last updated : 08-Aug-2013

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

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