Ray Hartley Editor: BusinessLIVE

Willem Adriaan van der Stel has ascended to the governorship of the Cape, succeeding his father, Simon. The latter lives on in memory after naming Stellenbosch after himself. The former lives on in infamy. Willem Adriaan - let's call him "WA" - had hardly taken office than his mind turned to how he could extract as much wealth from his position as possible. The scam was simple. The governor of the Cape had control over the purchasing of "victuals" for ships belonging to the Dutch East India Company which ventured to India, Java and beyond, where the real profits lay in spices and silk. These victuals were procured from the freeburghers, people of Dutch, French and German descent who had been granted land to produce fresh goods for the company ships. This job used to be done by the company, but the system had been inefficient, expensive and ridden with graft. The free burghers were motivated to keep prices in check and to improve productivity. I can see you are alighting on this as t...

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