Pierre Daniel Rousseau was a student at the Victoria College, Stellenbosch when the war broke out and he sympathised with the Boer cause. He took up a teaching position in the Molteno district, where he joined Kritzinger’s Commando in 1900. He was wounded at Ruiters Kraal and subsequently taken PoW.
In an Afrikaans publication, “Oomblikke van Spanning” (Stressful Moments), the war memoirs of P J du Plessis, Rousseau is quoted on p59 (freely translated):
“During one of the English ‘drives’ my commandant, Kolman Leon-Cachet, on 13 August got a bullet through the head. He was a bold man… In the same action I was severely wounded but rode the whole night with my commando…General Kritzinger was almost captured while his secretary, Van Rensburg, was taken prisoner. While he was taking off his bandoleers, he dropped the knapsack with money and documents in the grass. It contained a fair amount of money, as well as despatches and papers concerning all commandos at that time in the Cape Colony. At a later stage Tennant cross-examined me to establish the whereabouts of the knapsack. The day after I was wounded Gen Kritzinger joined us again. I was in such a bad condition that he ordered Uncle Daantjie van der Heever of Ruigtevlei to take me in a light carriage to Venterstad from where the British sent me by ambulance wagon to Norvalspont. General Kritzinger told me after the war that a shepherd found the knapsack and that it was returned to him (K) by the farm owner with despatches but without the money.”
After recovering in Norvalspont Hospital, Rousseau was sent to Graaff-Reinet where he was sentenced to Death by Hanging for High Treason under Arms and Murder on 16 Jan 1902. This was commuted to Penal Servitude for life on St Helena, with the Royal Commission reducing the sentence to 2 years.
On St Helena he ran a school for the other PoW’s. He was back in Cape Town on 6 January 1903 and was transferred to Tokai Gaol as Prisoner No 265, being granted partial amnesty on 23 March 1903.
After the war, he held various teaching positions and was promoted to Inspector of Schools. In later years he was a Director of the Afrikaans business institutions, Sanlam & Santam.
He died on 22 November 1954.
His son, Dr P E Rousseau, applied for his father’s ABO medal in November 1969. After some problems, due to the Transvaal Archives initially supplying an incorrect date of his return to South Africa, the medal was issued in May 1970.
Interesting Speculation: If P D Rousseau had been hanged or shot (as were a number of Cape Rebels), would South Africa have had anything similar to the SASOL plants and would there have been a town called Sasolburg? In the mid-1930’s and the 1940’s his son, Dr P E Rousseau, was at the forefront of local Oil-from-Coal extraction technology and he was the first Managing Director of SASOL.