General – Frederick Albertus (Groot Freek) Grobler

General Frederick Albertus (Groot Freek) Grobler(1850 – 1901)
Phalapye had received news on October 16th that the Waterberg commando, under Assistant Commandant-General  Frederick A. Grobler, was assembling on the eastern side of the Limpopo at Seleka’s (opposite Ngwapa), near the drift later  marked on South African maps as Groblersbrug. The next day Khama ordered out the Maolola (or Mafhiri) regiment, under  his brother Kebailele, to guard the Mahalapye railway bridge.  On the 20th and 21st came more definite intelligence that Grobler’s force intended to attack Phalapye by way of redoubts  at Ngwapa hill, Sefhare hill, and Ratholo at the foot of the Tswapong hills. Khama immediately sent a regiment of 400 men  to fortify Ngwapa, the key natural fortress of the area. Thirty-six hours later, 100 Rhodesian white militia with a 7-pounder  gun arrived at Palapye Road station. 80 of them repaired to Phalapye town, where the substantial church building was  converted into a fortress inside a double-ring of stone walls, stocked with a month’s provisions for the white population. On October 22nd, Khama received an ultimatum from Frederick Grobler, couched in respectful terms, informing him of the  South African Republic’s intention to invade. Grobler warned Khama to remain neutral. Khama replied the next  day: ‘If you enter with armed men into my country, and among my cattle-posts, I shall fight you.’ He added that white people  were under his protection, not vice-versa. Grobler made no immediate advance. He fretted over the failure of the northward thrust of the Marico and Rustenburg  forces up the railway towards Mahalapye. Characteristically impatient, he withdrew with 400 men in a feint to the south  and re-appeared in the north at Rhodes’ Drift, near Tuli, to reinforce the Soutpansberg commando of Commandant van  Rensburg – against the British Rhodesian forces of Colonel Plumer. Grobler’s request to invade Rhodesia with van Rensburg  was turned down by Pretoria. So, on or about November 5th, Grobler came once again to camp at Seleka’s  with reinforcements from the Soutpansberg commando. There were now reportedly at Seleka’s 637 Boers with 97 waggons  and 4 field-pieces, together with about 750 armed African auxiliaries. Khama dispatched another regiment of 370  men to Ngwapa hill, a natural fortress that stood high above the valley – making a total of 700 defenders there.  On Tuesday, November 7th, 1899, the combined Transvaal forces crossed the Limpopo and fired four shells at  They then doubled back across the river and began to build an earth-walled fort. There were no casualties on either side in  the skirmish. Satisfied with this display of force, the concentration of Boer forces at Seleka’s then dispersed north and  south along the Bechuanaland front.  The Soutspansberg commando, with Waterberg assistance, made attacks across the Limpopo on Plumer’s forces at  Rhodes Drift on November 16th-18th. But Grobler and van Rensburg had dissipated and lost the military initiative.He died 13 May 1901 of koors or malaria at Sterkfontein, district of Waterberg