In Belgium, France and the Netherlands, state-induced punishments were
inflicted on collaborators with the German occupation. In this article, Boer
collaboration with the British is explored by recounting the careers of three
high-profile officers of the Winburg commando, Commandants Harry Theunissen,
Fanie Vilonel and Gerrie van der Merwe. There were hundreds of
ordinary men and women in the district who also collaborated, but after the
war there was no Boer state to bring them to book and the Dutch Reformed
Church, as the only coherent social structure to survive the war was,
unsurprisingly, more inclined to reconciliation than to retribution. Within
post-war Afrikaner society there were furthermore social and political pressures
for not settling accounts with those who had been disloyal. Consequently,
collaborators were speedily reintegrated into society and the mythology of a
united and heroic struggle against British imperialism could be sustained.
Today the individualistic and pragmatic way in which Boers responded to
occupation helps us to see the past and therefore also the present and the future
in a different light.