Vaal Triangle History

1889 - 1902


Klip Power Station

William Stow




1939 - 1945

Peace Negotiations



Riviera Hotel

Vereeniging History

  Edgar Wallace, then a resourceful reporter on the London "Daily Mail", devised a stratagem by which he daily scooped the world press with news of the progress of the talks. One of Wallace's old and trusted friends was a guard at the peace-talks marquee, and each day, and later several times a day, Wallace arrived at Vereeniging from Johannesburg and remained seated in the carriage, smoking and casually reading a newspaper. The guard, in his off-duty periods sauntered to the barbed wire fence nearest the station, thoughtfully he wiped his nose with one of three coloured handkerchiefs. Blue signified that the talks were progressing satisfactorily; red that a hitch had occurred, and white that terms for peace had definitely been accepted. Two miles separated the marquee and the station, but in 1902 there were no buildings or trees to obscure the view; and when the guard raised a white handkerchief to his nose, Wallace returned to Johannesburg and at the Stock Exchange he cabled the news to the "Daily Mail" and to the waiting world - 24 hours before the official news was released.
  Vereeniging residents were ignorant of the results of the talks until the train, which carried the delegates to Pretoria, passed the concentration camp, and the news was shouted to the prisoners from the carriage windows. Amid cheers the train steamed away on its non-stop journey to Pretoria where
General Jan Christiaan Smuts and General Christiaan Beyers at the peace talks in Vereeniging.
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 Jan Christiaan Smuts and General Christiaan Beyers
  The war drew on for another gruelling ten months until with their sources of supply gone, the hopelessly outnumbered Boers finally conceded that there was no hope of recovering the independence of the two republics by force of arms.
  President Paul Kruger was not to take part in the peace negotiations. On May 29, 1900, the day before Johannesburg fell to Roberts, Kruger left Pretoria for Machadodorp. Later he moved to Waterval Onder; and when he was pursued by British forces, he withdrew to Nelspruit. Finally, he left the Trans­vaal on September 10, and in the following month he sailed from Delagoa Bay to Europe on a vessel provided by the Queen of Holland. Kruger hoped to enlist support for the two republics in European capitals, but no government would help him and with both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State occupied, he remained overseas. He was never to return. He died at Clarens on Lake Geneva in Switzerland on July 14th, 1904, at the age of 79 years.
  Two years before Kruger's death, Sammy Marks - a close friend of the old President and some say his financial adviser - was to play an important role as an intermediary between the opposing forces. He offered the Boer and British leaders a site at the Central Mine, now occupied by Vereeniging Refractories, for the peace negotiations. The camp was situated opposite the entrance to the Rand Water Board's pumping station on the Barrage Road, just behind the mine hospital.
  The British erected a large marquee there, and on the cold and misty morning of May 15, 1902, delegates began to arrive for the peace talks. President Steyn of the Orange Free State gathered with Generals Botha, Smuts, Hertzog, de la Rey and de Wet to represent the Boer forces. Lord Milner and Lord Kitchener represented Britain.
  A blanket of secrecy shrouded the negotiations and the ensuing wiles of journalists intent on obtaining snatches of information, required the constant vigilance of the Provost Marshall to prevent them from doing so. Their subterfuges were a source of great amusement to the residents. Newsmen employed all kinds of disguises and stratagems to outwit the military authorities, but with one ex­ception they were in vain.

Chapter 6: The Anglo-Boer War