§ MR. MAGUIRE (Clare, W.)
I wish to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies a question of which I have given him private notice. It is with reference to the statement which has been made as to recent military operations in Matabeleland regarding the Hon. Maurice Gifford and two other Englishmen imprisoning two Matabele in a hut, and when one of the Matabele snatched up a gun the Hon. Maurice Gifford burned down the kraal, and when the Matabele ran out shot them down. Can the hon. Gentleman give any account of the alleged occurrence?
§ MR. S. BUXTON
My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton the other night, as the House will remember, asked me whether it was correct that (I quote from The Times' report) Mr. Maurice Gifford and another Englishman imprisoned two Matabele in a hut, and that when one of these Matabele snatched up a gun Mr. Gifford burnt down the kraal, and when the people ran out shot them down. I stated that if he would bring before me any facts which seemed to bear 494 out his statement and to implicate Mr. Gifford in any outrage strict inquiry would be made on the subject. My hon. Friend supplied me with the newspaper statements on which he had based his question. There were two accounts of the same transaction in the paper, which did not, however, substantially differ. It appeared that the very material fact had been overlooked by my hon. Friend that one of the two Matabele in question had shot at and fatally wounded Mr. Burnett before they were themselves shot. On the facts as stated in the newspaper there did not appear to be any primâ facie case of cruelty against Mr. Gifford. The Company have now supplied us with the following account of the occurrence, which they have received from their Cape Town office:—Cape Town, Dec. 2, 1893.Gifford crossed Shangani river scouting on October 24; upon arrival at kraal found a few friendly Makalaka; afterwards proceeded half-mile to another kraal, dismounted to rest horses. Burnett approaching hut was shot, dropping his rifle at the door. Gilford galloped round to see if man had escaped; the Matabele declined to evacuate the hut and continued firing; in self-defence we fired, killing the Matabele in the act of again shooting with Burnett's rifle. He (the Matabele) had another rifle besides.