Piet de Wet

Pieter Daniel de Wet or short Piet de Wet was a Boer Generaal during the Anglo-Boer War fighting for the Free State. Not right through the war, only until July 1900 when he surrendered to the British and became a joiner. That is a person from the Boer forces who joined the British fighting against the Boers still in the field. By many he, Piet, is seen as a traitor and despised, including his own brother, Christiaan de Wet, and by others seen as a rational person wanting to save his people from total destruction. The subject of joiners has certainly caused a rift in Afrikanerdom, felt for many years and even today still causes division.

Piet de Wet was born in 1861 on a farm near Dewetsdorp in the Southern Free State. He and his older brother Christiaan went to farm in the Heidelberg district and whilst there got involved in the 1st Boer War. 1883 he returned to the Free State, married Susanna and settled on the farm Vinkfontein, about 16km east from Lindley. The picture shows the house on the farm Vinkfontein which is most likely the place where he stayed with his family.

Piet was involved in the battle of Bakenkop, which is very near to his house. It has been reported that he was in a position that during a quiet night he was able to hear his children playing. There is also an indication that he was home during June 1900' His 11th child, Esther Jacoba Aletta, was born on 6-Feb-1901. That places him at his house in June the year before.

His most dramatic time was spent in this area, he must have been in turmoil about his coming surrender. At this time he was still trying to convince other fighter that this is the best way out of their situation. He went to see his brother, Christiaan who had become the commandant-general of the Free State forces, on the 19th July. The interview was very short with Christiaan shouting at him 'is jy mal?' (are you mad?). At this time he had already made contact with Lieutenant-General Ian Hamilton, the commanding officer in Lindley, and British cavalry commander Brigadier-General Robert Broadwood in Kroonstad. He offered to surrender with about 1000 men with the provision that they could stay on their farms. This was rejected, but still on the 26 July 1900 he and some members of his staff handed themselves over to the British in Kroonstad.

He carried on trying to get others to make peace with the British by joining the Peace Committee set up by Lord Roberts and by joining the Orange River Colony Volunteers who would help the British with mostly reconnaissance.

After the war he stayed mostly out of politics and concentrated on farming. There are conflicting reports about whether he ever managed to reconcile with his brother. He, Piet, did attend Christiaan's funeral in 1922. He himself died in Lindley 1929.

Information supplied by Horst Müller.