10 June 1906

In the Mpanza valley in the Umvoti dis­trict, a minor chief of the Zondi, Bambatha ka Mancinza Zondi (also spelt Bambada, Bhambada), flatly refused to collect the poll tax and threatened white authorities with death if they attempted to do so in his district. Attempts to enforce his compliance failed and he was deposed and another chief appointed in his place. Bhambatha fled to Zululand and met with Dinuzulu, who had returned from exile in 1898. It is not certain whether the Zulu king offered tangible support, but Bhambatha's wife did remain at Dinuzulu's royal homestead. Bhambatha returned to Natal to continue his campaign of resistance. In April 1906 he ambushed a police force near Greytown and killed four policemen, one of whose body was mutilated. He fled to the home of chief Sigananda Shezi of the Cube chiefdom, near the Nkandla forest.

By now, general lawlessness had broken out in many districts of northern Natal and Zululand. For the Natal authorities this was untenable. Under the command of Colonel Duncan Mckenzie, a large militia was raised from Natal, Johannesburg and the Cape. On 10 June, Mckenzie's troops encountered the 'rebels' along the Mome stream near the Nkandla forest. In a half-hour's engagement, Bhambatha's followers were massacred, and nearly 600 lives were shed. Bhambatha's body was decapitated. Several influential chiefs continued resistance in the Lower Thukela River area until July, but the rebellion was effectively crushed. Over the next six months 5 000 dissidents were arrested, tried and some eventually served life sentences.

*Note: Date is given as 9 June in two other sources, but 10 June is considered the correct date.


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