The Van Riebeeck Society for the Publication of

Southern African Historical Documents


Newsletter 50, November 2016


2016 AGM and launches of 2016 volume

Our 2016 AGM (including the election of a new Council for 2016-19) will be held at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday 6 December 2016 at Ravenswood House, 110 Hatfield Street, Gardens (see attached map A). Parking is available in and around Hatfield Street. The AGM will be followed at 6.45 p.m. by the first launch of our 2016 volume, From Cattle-Herding to Editor’s Chair: The Unfinished Autobiography and Writings of Richard Victor Selope Thema, edited by Professor Alan Cobley. Professor Cobley will be flying in from the University of the West Indies in Barbados to be the main speaker. If you are unable to attend this launch and are in the Western Cape, please do join us at a second launch of the volume by Professor Cobley at the Protea Bookshop on the top storey of the Fountain Centre, 29 Main Road in Rondebosch at 5.00 p.m. for 5.30 p.m. on Wednesday 7 December 2016 (see Map B below).  For our Gauteng members, a third launch, also to be addressed by Professor Cobley, will be held at 6.00 p.m. for 6.30 p.m. on 13 December 2016 at Bookdealers, Shop 15B, The Colony, 345 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall Park. Next to Hodges Coffee House (see Map C below).                                  

Please RSVP by 28 November 2016, indicating which launch(es) you will attend.


MAP A: Ravenswood House, 110 Hatfield Street, Gardens (venue for AGM and first book launch at 5.30 p.m. on 6 December 2016).



Directions: from Southern Suburbs take M3 (De Waal Drive) to traffic lights a little before the entrance to the Mount Nelson Hotel. At the traffic lights (where there is an Engen garage), turn right into Hatfield Street. Ravenswood House is about 100 metres down the road on the left.

Directions from central city: drive up Plein Street towards the mountain, cross Roeland Street (where Plain Street becomes St John’s Street), pass St Mary’s Cathedral on your left and then (about 400 metres further on) the Jewish Museum and the Great Synagogue are on your right. At this point St John’s Street becomes Hatfield Street. Continue towards the mountain to near the top of Hatfield Street; Ravenswood House is on your right).


MAP B: Protea Bookshop, top storey of Fountains Centre, 29 Main Road, Rondebosch (venue for second book launch, 5 p.m. for 5.30 p.m. on 7 December 2016)




MAP C: Bookdealers, Shop 15B, The Colony, 345 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall Park. Next to Hodges Coffee House (venue for third book launch, 6 p.m. for 6.30 p.m. on 13 December 2016)




Election of new Council for 2016-2019

At our AGM on 6 December we will hold elections for a new Council to steer us to our centenary in 2018. Nominations for membership of this Council (consisting of a proposal from a current member of the VRS and acceptance by a nominee who must also be a current member) must reach the VRS office by post or e-mail to by no later than noon on 28 November 2016.


Volunteer needed

To assist Rolf Proske in the office we need the services of a willing volunteer for one morning per week. In return, we offer an opportunity to help in the day-to-day running of a unique historical publishing organization. The work required is primarily administrative in nature and will suit an active retiree. Free parking in central Cape Town is provided.


New members

Denis Beckett from Johannesburg; Mary Cocker from Cape Town; Jon Cummings from New Vernon, USA; Penny D’Axon from Randburg; David de Villiers from Gordons Bay; Nick Diemont from Johannesburg; Ross Goode from Hluhluwe; Alex Divov from Johannesburg; Scott Drimie from Stellenbosch; Sheila Frater from Cape Town; Una Graven from Cape Town; Henk Groenewald from Cape Town; Michael Kempen from Cape Town; Estelle King from Kenilworth; Inga Kostlin from Cape Town; Dorothy Malan from Constantia; Nelson Mandela Bay Africana Library, Port Elizabeth; Leigh Petrie from Port Elizabeth; Sally Roper from Johannesburg; Michael van Breda from Elgin; Shan van der Merwe from Cape Town; Basil van Rooyen from Plettenberg Bay; Leyann Wahl from Cape Town; Simon Winter from Cape Town; Misumzi Zilimbola from Cape Town.


In memoriam

It is with deep regret that we record the deaths of the following members of the VRS. Two of them, Rodney Davenport and Randolph Vigne, served the Society with great ability and distinction, the former as a hard-working and insightful member of the Council and as its chair in 2000/2001 and the latter as the skilful editor of two of our volumes, Guillaume Chenu de Chazelac, the ‘French’ Boy (1993 for 1991) and The South African Letters of Thomas Pringle (2011).  Both were stalwarts of the VRS: Randolph joined as a boy in 1941 and Rodney was a member of the Council for 20 years. The Society will be the poorer for the absence of their wise, imaginative and well-informed counsel.

Rodney Davenport; Ron Emmett; Rodger Jeffery; William Katz; Winifred Kempen; Justice E King; Wouter Malan; Cyril Prisman; Helm van Zijl; Randolph Vigne.


For Sale

The family of our late book-keeper, Michael Purcell, has a number of VRS volumes for sale (starting with Series I, 22 and stretching to Series II, 18), along with an even larger number of books on Dutch colonial history. Anyone interested in purchasing some of these volumes should contact the family at for a list of what is available.


John Ross of Johannesburg has a set of the Journal of Jan van Riebeeck, volumes 1, 2 and 3 which he is offering for sale. The set, published in 1952 for the Van Riebeeck Society, is edited with an introduction by Prof H B Thom. The volumes are in fair condition with a bit of discolouration on one of the covers.

Anyone interested in purchasing the set should contact him at 083 437-5093 or email


VRS publication on stage

To be read, perhaps several times, is the usual destiny of our volumes. To have a volume turned into a stage play is, however, a new experience for the VRS. But no less than this happened this year when a play by Greg Homann, closely based on our 2009 volume, Alan Paton: Selected Letters, edited by Peter Alexander, was staged around the country as ‘A Voice I Cannot Silence’, with Ralph Lawson as Paton. To see and hear the text of our volume come to life on stage before packed houses was very gratifying, underlining the importance of what we do and its pulling power well beyond our members. Thanks to the kindness of the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town, we were able to benefit immediately by the sale of over 20 of our Paton volumes to those attending performances there. Any suggestions as to which of our other volumes would translate well onto the stage? Volume 36 in Series II (Trials of Slavery) certainly comes to mind in this regard.


#Pay2016 subs

If you have not yet paid R230 as your 2016 subscription, may we prod you to do so urgently as, if we have received no payment from you by 30 November, you will not receive the 2016 volume. Contact the VRS office (tel. 0214238424 or if you are not sure if you have paid or not. If you do pay via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), please make sure that you put your name in the Beneficiary field. It is really difficult for us to know the identity of a payer if the payment is marked only “membership 2016” or “2016 ledegeld”. We have to phone the bank, log a query which can often take days, to find your name and/or phone number and pay over R20 for it!


Hot off the press, literally

Our printers, Novus Print Solutions, are willing to take a party of 12 VRS members on a free tour of their brand-new printing works in Milnerton and to witness our 2016 volume being printed. The visit will probably take place in the week of either 7 or 14 November – the exact day and time are still to be fixed. As soon as these are settled, we will alert members by e-mail , and then the first 12 to contact us will be given details of where and when to meet. Own transport will probably be necessary.




Compiled by Howard Phillips & Rolf Proske. Afrikaans by Chris van der Merwe.

Van Riebeeck Society, P O Box 15151, VLAEBERG, 8018, South Africa.

Centre for the Book, 62 Queen Victoria Street, CAPE TOWN, 8000, South Africa.

Nonprofit Organization Registration Number 094-832-NPO

Tel: +27 (0)21 423-8424 Fax: 086 670 9828

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