Theophilus Jooste served with the Heidelburg Commando. Ian Uys, the well-known South African military and historian in his publication Fight to the Bitter End published 2002 recording the story of the Heidelburg Boer Bittereinders includes numerous references to Theo Jooste. His short summarized biographical comment about Theo Jooste reads simply as follow:
“JOOSTE. Kaptein Theo Jooste had been wounded five times during the war. The first was a slight forehead wound at Spionkop and the rest were from bomb blasts and shrapnel, resulting in a permanent slightly deaf right ear. Despite this he was the War Commissioner for Gen. Piet Viljoen. Between 1920 and 1926 Jooste was the Magistrate of Christiana. ”
Jooste story is however much more than this and drawing from resources which are available on the internet the following brief summary has been drafted for this catalogue.
Theophilus (Theo) Jooste was bom at East London on 1 July 1872. He was the eldest son of the Rev. J.P. Jooste . Educated at East London he married Dirkie the daughter of W.L. Jooste of Klerksdorp in February 1905. They had three children, and he died in November 1955.
He came to the Transvaal in 1895 and practiced at a Law Agent in Heidelberg until the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War. An on-line reference on the NAIRS system of the South National Archives records that he offered his services as a “Vrywilliger" to accompany the Boer Forces to Swaziland in 1898. (A check in Don Forsyth's write-ups about the Johannesburg Vrywilliger Corps and the privately issued Johannesburg Vrywilliger Corps medal published during the 1960 may also provide further information)
Ian Uys has published two books about the Heidelbergers during the Anglo Boer War. Both these books include many details about Theo and his family as well his two particular Heidelberg friends Wilhelm Mangold and John Biccard These three Heidelbergers formed a triumvirate and were nicknamed the “Triangle”, this apparently being a name from a story about Red Indians. Due to his weight Wilhelm Mangold was known as “Heavy One”, John Biccard was called “Piccanini” as he was the smallest, (piccanini is a somewhat insulting and derogatory South African term for a young boy) whereas Theo Jooste was called “Baby” as he was the youngest of the three.
Picture courtesy of City Coins
Theo Jooste is recorded as having taken part in the Boer cavalry charge at Modderspruit (Farquhar’s Farm) on 30 October 1899. On 29 March 1900 he headed the right flank at Karee Siding (Taflkop). He was elected as Chief Corporal on 8 February 1901 and was appointed as “Oorlogskommissariaatmeester" by General Piet Viljoen. This meant that he was responsible for the provisioning and quartermaster of the force. He was later appointed as Captain of Scouts. Wilhelm Mangold in later years, recalling his thoughts on the evening before the action at Lake Chrissie on 6 February 1901 wrote “I observed Biccard and Jooste and thought of the circumstances in which our triumvirate had begun, how we had remained loyal companions through thick and thin. Could we dare to hope to remain together until the end of the war, or would the hour (of destiny) soon also dawn for us, as had for so many comrades already?" Sadly Biccard was seriously wounded and died soon afterwards.
Theo’s legal experience was to play a role during the War. Ian Uys records that a Black man named simply as David who served with the British forces was captured by the Boers near Heidelberg. A pass found on him labeled him as a “native scout”. He was accused of being a spy and Theo was given the role of Prosecutor in the case made against him which resulted in him being condemned to death. In due course this sentence was confirmed and he became one of the many individuals who were summarily executed in this fashion during the War.
Tlieo fought through to the end of the War. At the declaration of peace he was Landrost of Heidelberg. He continued with his legal career and became a well-known official in the Transvaal Law Department and the subsequent Justice Department after the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Formally appointed to the Transvaal Law Department before the end of 1902, it is recorded that that he passed his Government law exams in 1905. As an accomplished Attorney, Notary and Sworn Translator he served as Assistant Resident Magistrate at Zeerust and Waterberg being transferred as Public Prosecutor at Middelburg in 1907. Once again file references on the NAIRS system infer that he was appointed to the Department of Justice acting as itinerant Water Court in 1910 and in 1912 serving as a Judge in connection with the use of water conveyed from the Sand River. He returned to his duties as a Magistrate and in 1913 is noted as holding the position of magistrate at Volksrust.
It was here where he once again left his mark in South African history when, through his responsibility as Magistrate, he came into contact with Mahatma Ghandi. He was clearly respected by that sector of the community as his photograph featured in the Golden Number of the Indian Opinion published in a 1914. Perhaps surprisingly the relationship of these passive resisters with the Transvaal law and court officials at Volksrust was surprisingly good, his photograph carrying the caption: “The genial Magistrate at Volkrust who convicted and sentenced Messrs Gandi Kallenbach and Polak last year” This clearly refers to an occasion in 1913 when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Herman Kallenbach, a German Jew who was his close associate and financial sponsor and Henry Polak, the radical lawyer and one of Ghandi’s closest advisors.
After serving a term as Magistrate at Pietersberg Theo moved to Bloemhof (Christiana) where he continued to serve until about 1926. ft would seem that he retired at about this time and entered private practice. In 1930 he is noted as being appointed as Chairman of the Rent Board for the Magisterial District of Piet Retief and as being admitted as an Attorney in 1932. He was a noted Freemason, various South African Who’s Who references mentioning his hobbies as shooting and sports generally. Theo Jooste died in November 1955.
Sold with copied medal application forms “A ”, “B ” and “C ” and a length of L VW ribbon and with a copy of a letter to ‘Waarde Theo’ from jou ou vriend Wilhelm Mangold’.