SOUTH AFRICAN HISTORY: The Dutch-Khoi Agreement of 1672
In the spring of 1672 (autumn in the Netherlands) a formal land buy agreement was reached between the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope and the Khoi tribes of the Cape.
At the time of the agreement the Cape settlement lacked a commander as the appointed commander, Goske, who replaced the deceased Commander Hackius, has not arrived in the Cape yet. The representation of the Khoi was also divided into two as the tribes on the west coast did not recognise the leadership of the largest tribe - the Chainouquas.
The Dutch representation
The death of Commander Hackius In the latter part of the year 1671 (30 November) created a leadership crisis in the Cape as his second-in-command, Cornelius de Cretzer, was also not available.
As Commander Hackius was not able to attend to his duties during his sickbed the burden fell on his second-in-command (secunde), Cornelius de Cretzer. De Cretzer had been the most active member of the Cape government and well-liked by the burghers and superior officers. In general he was regarded as able, honest and attentive to his duties. Unfortunately, at a dinner party where he was the host, he lost he his temper with two of his guests. The one was a captain of a ship in Table Bay and the other a passenger from the same ship. The two guests were in an argument which led to the captain attacking his passenger. Unable to pacify him, De Cretzer stabbed the Captain with his rapier. In shock over the incident, he fled into hiding and later slipped away quietly to Amsterdam to argue his case. The Directors of the VOC pronounced him blameless, but he never reached the Cape again as his return ship was attacked by Moorish pirated.
De Cretzer filled the three positions immediately below the commander and therefore with the death of Commander Hackius and the absence of De Cretzer there was no senior person available to take up the duties. The governance of the Cape was eventually referred to the Politieke Raad under the representation of Lieutenant Conrad van Breitenbach with Hendrik Crudop as the secretary.
To address the lack of leadership in the Cape the Directors of the VOC made three appointments to the Cape - Isbrand Goske as Commander, Albert van Breugel as Secunde and Pieter de Neyn as fiscal. Van Breugel arrived in the Cape before Goske on 25 March 1672 and took charge of the settlement. At the same time, a return fleet from the east brought Commissioner Arnout van Overbeke to the Cape. As the highest ranking official of the VOC, van Overbeke made an inspection of the settlement and came to the conclusion that a formal land purchase agreement with the Khoi tribes of the Cape, will bring more stability to the settlement. Hendrik Crudop as the secretary proceeded to arrange for the negotiations.
The Dutch negotiation team existed out of Arnout van Overbeker (Commissioner), Albert van Breugel (Sekunde), Conrad van Breitenbach (on behalf of the Politieke Raad), Lieutenant Johan Coon (of the Garrison) and Hendrik Crudop (Secretary).
The Khoi representation
The first message for negotiations was sent to the Goringhaiqua (“Kaapmans”) who owned the western part of the Dutch settlement. The Goringhaiqua stood under the leadership of Osinghkamma who was known to the Dutch as prince Schacher. Prince Schacher was the son of Gogosoa whom Van Riebeeck met in the Cape. Legend has it that Gogosoa lived until an age of hundred and died in the same year Van Riebeeck left the Cape. The Goringhaiqua was a leading tribe who also spoke for the Gorinhaikonas (“Strandlopers”) and Cochoquas (“Saldanhars”).
The second message was sent to the Chainouqua tribe which lived in the area today known as Baardskeerdersbos, Gansbaai and Grabouw. They owned the eastern part of the Dutch settlement next to the Hottentots-Holland mountains. At that stage, they were the largest Khoi tribe. When Van Riebeeck arrived, their chief was Sousoa – the man with the title of “Khoeque” (the paramount chief of all kings and landowners) - was regarded as the chief of the chiefs. Sousoa was deceased by then, and his throne had been transferred to his son Goeboe, who also had died shortly before and left his throne to his minor son Dhouw – “the hereditary prince and heir of the Hottentots-Holland Land”. His uncle, Cuiper, was acting as regent.
Crudop invited Schacher and Cuiper with Dhouw to the Castle for the land purchase agreement.
Background to The Agreement
Jan van Riebeeck was sent to the Cape to create a halfway station where ships on route to the east could replenish food and water. The original idea was that Van Riebeeck will buy the needed proviant from the indigenous tribes at the time. Van Riebeeck set-out with the planned model for the station, but soon learned that the food supply from the Khoi tribes was not reliable and that he could not supply passing ships with the needed proviant. He convinced the management of the VOC to allow the establishment of farmers who will farm for their own account and deliver their produce to the company. It was approved and the Vryburger settlements started.
As more and more products were required by the company to supply the ships, the Vryburger settlements grew in proportion. More and more land was taken by the settlers to be cultivated for food production. Over time the farms of the Vryburgers penetrated the Khoi tribes land deeper and deeper. This lead to conflict and instability in the settlement.
The negotiation between the VOC and the Khoi tribes of the Cape took on the form of land negotiations where the Vryburgers will restrict their settlements to an agreed area which the Khoi will not use as grazing fields. The Khoi delegation undertook to sell the land to the VOC for now and ever. As payment, the Khoi could for the agreed amount, take provisions from the Castle storage.
The agreement is currently preserved in the registry of deeds in Cape Town and is regarded as a legal document. It is structured into eight clauses which are as follows:-
- That the Khoi prince (referring to Schachen) agrees that he and his heirs in perpetuity will sell to the East India Company (VOC) the district of the Cape included Table, Hout and Saldanha bays, with all the lands, rivers and forest there-in and pertaining thereto, to be cultivated and possessed without remonstrance from anyone. With this understanding, however, that the prince with his people and cattle shall be free to come anywhere near the outermost farms in the district, where neither the Company nor the vryburgers require the pasture, and shall not be driven away by force or without cause.
- The Khoi prince agrees he and his people never to do harm of any kind to the Company or its subjects, and allow them the right of transit and trade not only in the ceded district but in his other possessions.
- The Khoi prince promises to repel all other Europeans who may attempt to settle in the district.
- The Khoi prince engages that he and his descendants forever shall remain the good friends and neighbours of the Company, and be the enemies of all that seek to do the Company or its subjects harm.
- The Company (VOC) engages to pay to Prince Schachen with goods and merchandise such as he may select to the value of 800.
- The Company (VOC) guarantees the Khoi the peaceful possession of the remaining territory, and gives them the right of passage through the Company’s ground where ever exercise of this privilege may not cause damage or annoyance to the Company or its subjects.
- The Company (VOC) secure for prince Schachen the right of refuge in the Company’s territory in case of his being defeated by his enemies, and bind the company to protect him. It also refers to tribal disputes to the decision of the Company and provides for a present to be made yearly to the protecting power.
- The Khoi prince Schachen acknowledge that the foregoing has been translated to him he agrees to all, and that he has received the amount stipulated.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the company by Aernout van Overbeke, Albert van Breugel, Coenrad van Breytenbach, en J. Coon. On behalf of the Khoi tribes under the Goringhaiqua (“Kaapmans”), it was signed by prince Schachen and his second-in-command ‘T Tachou. The secretary Hendrik Crudop signed as the witness.
A second agreement identical to the one signed with Schachen was signed with the Chainouqua tribe for the area next to the Hottentots-Holland mountains with all its lands, streams, and forests, together with False Bay are ceded to the company for an amount of 800 pounds.
The document is dated in the fortress of Good Hope on the 19th April 1672 and is considered a legal transaction, even though by modern standards it is considered an unfair bargain in which the two parties were not equal in bargaining power. The lands transferred in the agreement was already largely settled by the Dutch, so the tribes didn't lose anything that was not already settled, but if they refused the agreement they would not effectively gain the land back. They would lose protection given to them under the agreement. Regarding the payment of 800 pounds it, later on, transpired that the actual value of goods transferred was nowhere near even 10% of the agreed value. It can also be mentioned that the land sold by the Khoi prince to the Dutch was also land taken from other tribes with force.
When the new commander for the Cape of Good Hope, Isbrand Goske, arrived later in the same year, he congratulated Crudop for administering the agreement. He promoted Crudop to the position of Onderkoopman - the lowest rank of those who negotiate deals and manage trade posts for the company (Jan van Riebeeck was a Koopman who manage the trading post in Tonkin, Indo-China, before he's assignment to the Cape). Pieter de Neyn arrived in the same year as Goske to take care of the legal affairs - the first fiscal at the Cape.
The land bought from the Khoi was used to settle more Vryburgers and when the French Huguenots arrived in 1688 farms were allocated to them based on the Crudop-agreement. By 1714 more than 400 of these farms exist. It is noted that the Crudop-agreement was the first land transaction between Europeans settlers and indigenous tribes.