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Theron Daniel Johannes


Title Boer Scout in the South African War
Other Names Danie
Date of Birth 1877-05-09
Date of Death 1900-09-05

Edited 12 Oct 2016

 

Daniel "Danie" Theron
Theron was born in Tulbach, 9 May 1872 and  died near Fochville, on 5 September 1900. Much of Theron's childhood was spent travelling with his half brother, Johannes Pretorius who held a number of teaching posts in various parts of the Cape and Orange Free State. At the age of 17 Theron graduated as a teacher himself but after a short spell teaching at a farm school in the Free State, he moved to the Transvaal where he joined a law firm and qualified as an attorney in 1897. He fought in the punitive war against the Gananwa chief Mmalebôgô in 1894 and against the British during the Jameson Raid in 1896 and acquired a reputation for reckless courage in battle. But his fiery temper and belligerence were notorious and earned him international publicity when he publicly assaulted the editor of The Star newspaper for his pro-British editorial in 1899.

With the outbreak of the South African War later that year he led the Wielrijder Raportgangers (Cycle despatch riders) and again displayed remarkable daring and skill in evading the enemy. Of his many escapades he is best remembered for creeping through the seemingly impenetrable British cordon surrounding Paardeberg to carry plans for General Cronje to break out of the siege. When the general rejected the idea, Theron slipped back through the lines. Cronje capitulated two days later with half the Free State army.
 
After Paardeberg Theron established his own scouting and training unit, Theron's Verkenningskorps (TVK). As the Boers retreated from Bloemfontein to Pretoria during the following months many of them owed their liberty and lives to TVK guidance and intelligence on British movements. Theron's reputation was further enhanced when he helped General de Wet and President Steyn escape from the Brandwater basin and guided them successfully to meet with President Kruger after the fall of Pretoria. However his impetuous nature and was eventually his downfall. A monument on a ridge overlooking the Johannesburg-Potchefstroom road marks the spot where he single-handedly attacked a British column in September 1900 and was killed in a barrage of retaliatory artillery gunfire. He was buried on the site but his body was exhumed in 1903 and laid to rest next to the grave of his fiancé, Hannie Neetling.



South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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