General Christiaan Frederik Beyers
He was born in Stellenbosch on 23 September 1869 and he moved to the Transvaal in 1888. He worked as an attorney in Boksburg and when war broke out, he joined his local commando in Boksburg and was soon voted in as Assistant Field Cornet. After the fall of Pretoria, he was promoted to Assistant Commandant-General of the Waterberg and Zoutpansberg Commandos. He participated in the battle at Nooitgedacht with General de la Rey on 13 December 1900.He operated in the Magaliesberg area and harassed the British. He represented the Boers of the Waterberg in the Vereeniging Peace Conference from 15 May 1902, where he chaired the proceedings. Resuming his practice as an attorney in Pretoria after the war, Beyers became Speaker of the Transvaal Parliament under the Responsible Government.
He was appointed Commandant-General of the newly founded Union Defence Force In 1912. A man of fine physique, of passionate nature, and of profound religious convictions, Beyers, as commandant general of South Africa, was entertained with marked attentions during his visit to Germany by Kaiser Wilhelm II. When World War I broke out, he set himself in almost open opposition to the policy of the Botha government. For some months, this opposition smouldered. Then, at a moment when the South African expeditionary force was being mobilized for the invasion of German South West Africa, and when rebellion was already smouldering among the irreconcilables of the South African Dutch, Beyers resigned his post as commandant general in a letter addressed to General Smuts, then Minister of Defence, and published in Het Volk, an anti-government journal.
In this letter he declared that he had always disapproved the Government’s intention to invade German South West Africa and that this disapproval was shared by the great majority of the Dutch-speaking people of the Union. General Smuts replied in a stern letter declaring that the war was a test of the loyalty to their pledged word of the Dutch-speaking people, and accepting Beyers’ resignation.
A few weeks later Beyers took the field as a leader of the Boer Rebels against the government, only to be overwhelmed by the government troops under the command of General Botha, to be driven from pillar to post as a fugitive, and to be drowned on 8 December 1914, while trying to escape from his pursuers by crossing the Vaal River. His body was recovered two days later, and with his death the rebellion was brought to an end.