Odd Honesty Among The Thieves

a typical Murraysburg cottage similar to the one in which the doctor lived

Boer Commando units loved the Murraysburg branch of the Standard Bank. It  was in a far-flung isolated spot and easy to attack, so, for a while during the Anglo-Boer War,  it became most robbed instution of its kind in the Karoo. The first “hit” happened in January, 1901,and the bank had to be closed for a few days. In his diary bank manager, F C Lilford, reported that during March, 1901, the town was attacked three times in 20 days and each time the commando made a bee line for the bank.

 During that month he was captured by the Boers while posting  official letters at Biesiespoort and held captive for over eight hours.  It was a traumatic experience.  Then, under cover of darkness on the night of  June 13, 1901, about 60 men from Commandant Gideon Scheepers’s commando appeared at Lilford’s home and  demanded the keys to the bank’s safe. At first he bravely refused, but in the end after being badly threatened and assaulted, he was forced to hand them over. The Boers rushed straight to the bank where they took £120/7/9d. But, they were honest men, they left a receipt. 

 Shortly after this incident Lieutennant Pijper, who was Scheepers’s second in command, went to see Lilford and apologised for the bad behaviour of his men.  Scheepers also personally apologised for this incident when he arrived in the town.  According to the book  ‘n Baanbrekerbank in ‘n Baanbrekerland,  (A Pioneer bank in a Pioneer Land)  the asssets from   Murraysburg  bank were  transferred to Beaufort-Wes after this incident and the branch was closed down for the further duration of the war.

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