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Louw Wepener memorial and grave
Bethulie district, Free State

Gerard Leendert Pieter MOERDYK: Architect
Coert STEYNBERG: Artist

Date:1940
Type:Memorial
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
30°26'59.79" S 25°56'46.88" E

The monument marks the spot of the re-internment and is also a monument to the death of Commandant Louw Wepener (1812-1865) and his young comrade-in-arms, Adam Raubenheimer, killed in action against the Basotho, having once been buried at the summit of Thaba Bosigo by Dr Prosper Lautre (1818-1893) of the Paris Evangelical Mission Society where he fell attempting to assail its flanks. His son met Moshweshwe (c.1786-1870) un-armed in 1866 and was taken to the grave after which he exhumed the remains of his father and gathered them into a bag and took them back to the family farm 'Constantia' located about six kilometers outside of Bethulie for reburial (Grobbelaar 1968: 873). Here a later monument [undated (1940)] marks the final resting place as well as those of his comrade-in-arms, marked:

Hier rus die stoflikke oorskot van Kommandant Louw Wepener (1812-1865) die onverskrokke held van die tweede Basoetoe-oorlog wat sy lewe gegee het op Thaba Bosigo en sy jeugdige strydmakker Adam Raubenheimer (1840-1865) wat van Oudshoorn aleen te perd gesnel het om die Vrystaters in hul stryd te help.

(Grobbelaar, J.J.G. 1968. Wepener, Lourens Jacobus (Louw). in De Kock, J.K. (eds.). Dictionary of South African Biography 1. Pretoria: HSRC: 872-3)

Former Director of Education in the Orange Free State, Dr SH Pellissier, wrote in a letter dated February 24, 1975 from Zeerust, Transvaal (now North West Province), the following:

"We lived from 1900 to 1912 on Constantia, Wepener's farm when I heard of the place where he lay buried, but there was nothing that indicated where it was. In 1940 I met an old man who said he was present as a child when Louw Wepener was re-interred at Constantia. I went with him to Bethulie and took him to the Administrator Hans van Rensburg. The mayor of Bethulie and the school headmaster were also present. The old man pointed to the graves without headstones where Louw Wepener lay . . . After all present were satisfied that it was indeed Louw Wepener, we had them exhumed and re-interred on a hill along the road to Springfontein and a monument erected there. From a sketch sent to me by Gerhard [sic] Moerdyk, AVBOB donated a beautiful monument of blue ironstone to place above the grave. Coert Steynberg sculpted a bronze bust of Louw Wepener and made a relief panel showing how the farmers stormed Thaba Bosigo ... It is a beautiful monument that I had the school children of the Free State erect under my guidance. It is five miles [8km] north of Bethulie on the road to Springfontein ..."

(Van Tonder, JJ. 1977. Fotobeeld van 300 Monumente, standbeelde en gedenktekens langs die pad. (hersiende tweede uitgawe met veertig nuwe foto's en byskrifte). Krugersdorp: Private. p 163)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Writings about this entry

van Tonder, JJ. 1977. Fotobeeld van 300 Monumente, Standbeelde en Gedenktekens langs die pad van Suid-Afrika. Krugersdorp: JJ van Tonder. pg 163