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The 1914 Rebellion (also known as the Maritz Rebellion, the Boer Revolt or the Five Shilling Rebellion) occurred in South Africa in 1914 at the start of World War I, in which men who supported the re-creation of the old Boer republics rose up against the government of the Union of South Africa. Many members of the government were themselves former Boers who had fought with the Maritz rebels against the British in the Second Boer War, which had ended twelve years earlier.

Most Afrikaners were against South African participation in WW1 on the side of the British. Many had German family ties and others remembered that the Germans had supported them in the South African War and that they had lost family members and friends in the war against the British. When South Africa was asked to invade German South West Africa (SWA) in August 1914 there was opposition from the ranks of the newly formed National Party (NP) and even from some who were part of the South African government. At their August congress the NP opposed invasion and on 15 August there was a republican demonstration in Lichtenburg.

The South African government viewed the issue from the perspective that there was a chance that in the future they might be able to incorporate the area into South Africa. At a special session of Parliament in September it was agreed, by large majorities in both Houses, that SWA should be invaded. Smuts and Louis Botha did not take internal opposition to this very seriously, and although they said that only volunteers would be asked to cross into the territory, this was not always followed.

On 15 September CF Beyers, who was commander of the Active Citizen Force, decided to resign his commission. That night, while he and JH de la Ray were on the way to Potchefstroom, they failed to stop at a roadblock set up by troops looking for a criminal gang. The troops shot at them, and De la Ray was killed. Although this was reported as an accident many thought it was intentional and placed the blame on Smuts and Botha, and it turned the Afrikaners against the government. On 9 August after admitting to treasonable intentions, SG Maritz, who was in charge of the military district that covered the SWA frontier, went over to the German side. Beyers and De Wet were unsure what their actions should be, but a short while later went into open rebellion and voiced support for restoring independence to the republics.

The rebellion failed, and the ringleaders received heavy fines and terms of imprisonment. Among the direct results for edurcation, theatre and the arts was the founding of the Helpmekaarfonds out of the huge amount of money collected to pay the fines of the ringleaders.


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