Piet Joubert


Piet Joubert

Petrus Jacobus Joubert (20 January 1834 – 28 March 1900), better known as Piet Joubert was Commandant-General of the South African Republic from 1880 to 1900.

Early life

Joubert was born at Cango, in the district of Oudtshoorn, Cape Colony, a descendant of a French Huguenot who fled to South Africa soon after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV. Left an orphan at an early age, Joubert migrated to the Transvaal, where he settled in the Wakkerstroom district near Laing's Nek and the north-east angle of Natal. There he not only farmed with great success, but turned his attention to the study of the law.

Political career

The esteem in which his shrewdness in both farming and legal affairs was held led to his election to the Volksraad as member for Wakkerstroom early in the sixties, Marthinus Pretorius being then in his second term of office as president. In 1870 Joubert was again elected, and the use to which he put his slender stock of legal knowledge secured him the appointment of attorney-general of the republic, while in 1875 he acted as president during the absence of T. F. Burgers in Europe.

First British annexation of the Transvaal

During the first British annexation of the Transvaal, Joubert earned for himself the reputation of a consistent irreconcilable by refusing to hold office under the government, as Paul Kruger and other prominent Boers were doing. Instead of accepting the lucrative post offered him, he took a leading part in creating and directing the agitation which led to the war of 1880-1881, eventually becoming, as commandant-general of the Boer forces, a member of the triumvirate that administered the provisional Boer government set up in December 1880 at Heidelberg.

Boer command

During the First Boer War, he was in command of the Boer forces at Laings Nek, Ingogo, and Majuba Hill, subsequently conducting the earlier peace negotiations that led to the conclusion of the Pretoria Convention.

Later political career

In 1883 he was a candidate for the presidency of the Transvaal, but received only 1171 votes as against 3431 cast for Kruger. In 1893 he again opposed Kruger in the contest for the presidency, standing as the representative of the comparatively progressive section of the Boers, who wished in some measure to redress the grievances of the Uitlander population which had grown up on the Rand. The poll (though there is good reason for believing that the voting lists had been manipulated by Kruger's agents) was declared to have resulted in 7911 votes being cast for Kruger and 7246 for Joubert. After a protest Joubert acquiesced to Krugers continued presidency.

He stood again in 1898, but the Jameson raid had occurred meantime and the voting was 12,858 for Kruger and 2,001 for Joubert. Joubert's position had then become much weakened by accusations of treachery and of sympathy with the Uitlander agitation.

econd Boer War

He took little part in the negotiations that culminated in the ultimatum sent to Great Britain by Kruger in 1899, and though he immediately assumed nominal command of the operations on the outbreak of hostilities, he gave up to others the chief share in the direction of the war, through his inability or neglect to impose upon them his own will. His cautious nature, which had in early life gained him the sobriquet of "Slim" Piet (Clever Piet), joined to a lack of determination and assertiveness that characterized his whole career, led him to act mainly on the defensive; and the strategically offensive movements of the Boer forces, such as Elandslaagte and Willow Grange, appear to have been neither planned nor executed by him.

Death

As the war went on, physical weakness led to Jouberts virtual retirement, and, though two days earlier he was still reported as being in supreme command, he died at Pretoria from peritonitis. Sir George White, the defender of Ladysmith, summed up Jouberts character when he called him "a soldier and a gentleman, and a brave and honorable opponent".

Origin

Piet Joubert is a direct descendant of Pierre Joubert who arrived at the Cape in 1688 from Provence France. [ Ces français qui ont fait l'Afrique du Sud. Translation: Those French who made South Africa. [http://www.amazon.fr/dp/2841000869 Bernard Lugan. January 1996. ISBN 2841000869'] ] The Joubert name has retained its original spelling and is a common name among the Afrikaans population.

Honours

The town of Pietersburg (now named Polokwane) in the northern region of the then Transvaal Republic (current Limpopo province) was named after Piet Joubert.

Notes

ee also

* Fritz Joubert Duquesne, the nephew of Piet Joubert who went on to become a Boer spy, and later one of the most famous German spies during both World Wars.

Books on Joubert

* The Commandant-General: The life and times of Petrus Jacobus Joubert by Johannes Meintjes


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