Travel the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route with Author Charles Leach | iinfo TZANEEN

The Anglo-Boer War (also known as the Second Boer War and the South African War) was a defining event in South Africa’s tumultuous history, and also played a crucial role in global politics at the turn of the 20th century. More than 100 years later, historians and amateur war buffs from around the world still travel to South Africa to explore the history and legacy of this devastating war.
 
While not the site of the Anglo-Boer War’s largest and most significant battles, the Zoutpansberg region in northern Limpopo experienced a series of late-war “skirmishes” and other violent events that continue to be the subject of intense historical debate. 
 
Local author and historian Charles Leach, a lifelong resident of Louis Trichardt, established the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route as a way to memorialize those who fought and were killed in this part of South Africa during the war. To date, Charles has led more than 4,000 visitors on explorations of the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route. 
 
The Bushveldt Carbineers
 
The Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route centers around the history of the Bushveldt Carbineers (BVC), a mounted infantry regiment of the British Army led by Australian Colonel R.W. Lenehan. The BVC were based in Pietersburg (now Polokwane) and were known for their campaign of either killing or brutally murdering (depending on which historical interpretation you read) Boer prisoners of war and civilians in the Zoutpansberg between May 1901 and April 1902.  
 
Three Australian lieutenants from the BVC were court-martialled and sentenced to death for their roles in these killings, which included the killing of German missionary Rev. C.A.D. Heese. Two of the lieutenants were killed by firing squad and the third was ultimately released after serving 28 months in prison. As recently as 2011, Australian defenders of the BVC have launched appeals for the lieutenants to be pardoned for their crimes. 
 
These events were portrayed in the 1980 Australian film, Breaker Morant, and several other books and films including Charles’ book, The Legend of Breaker Morant is Dead and Buried. Described as “a South African version of the story” of the BVC killings, Charles’ book serves as the basis of his tours of the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route.  
 
Tours of the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route
 
Charles, who was the third generation in his own family to serve in the Zoutpansberg Commando, worked tirelessly in the early 2000s to erect a series of monuments to honour the various Anglo-Boer War conflicts and killings in the Zoutpansberg. Charles also helped establish a small museum at the Lalapanzi Hotel, 28 kilometers south of Louis Trichardt on the N1 Highway, with numerous artefacts and pieces of memorabilia from the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes. 
 
Charles’ tours can be customised according to visitors’ preferences. But the tours generally last between half a day and two days, and cover a range of notable events along the Skirmishes Route, including sites in the Louis Trichardt area (generally covered on the first day of touring) and the Mokeetsi/Modjadjiskloof area further south (generally covered on the second day of touring). 
 
Charles’ passion and enthusiasm for his area of expertise is infectious — he brings the events of the war to life in a way that is both informative and respectful to all of the parties involved. 
 
The tour is not to be missed for anyone with an interest in the Anglo-Boer War; even those who thought they weren’t interested might change their minds after meeting Charles.
 
To schedule a tour of the Zoutpansberg Skirmishes Route, contact Charles Leach at 083-228-3874. 
 

Add new review

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.