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Adrift on the Open Veld 

Deneys Reitz talk by the van plettenberg historical society logo banner
Event Date: 08 March, 2024

We start our programme on Friday 8th March with a talk by Trevor Emslie on the life and times of Deneys Reitz as described by Deneys himself in his trilogy “Adrift on the Open Veld”.

The Reitz family of Plettenberg Bay are direct descendants and this talk will, most appropriately, be held at Ouland Royale – Wilya Reitz’s magical baroque-style barn venue.

See full details and booking information below.

DATE: Friday 8th March 2024
TIME: 17:30 for 18:00
PRICE: R250 including snacks after the talk. A cash bar will operate.
TICKETS: QUICKET, or at Barneys Kiosk, Market Square
SPEAKER: Trevor Emslie SC
VENUE: Ouland Royale, Airport Road, Plettenberg Bay


Deneys Reitz talk by the van plettenberg historical society


In 1899, aged just seventeen Deneys Reitz, son of the ex-President of the Orange Free State and then State Secretary of the South African Republic, took up his rifle and joined the Boer Army to fight for his country.

Reitz describes that he had no hatred of the British people, but “as a South African, one had to fight for one’s country.”

He could ride and shoot with the best of them, so he was quickly assigned to a Boer Commando Unit—one of the highly mobile light cavalry units that were driving the British crazy.

Reitz was fortunate to be present at nearly every one of the major battles of the war.

His descriptions of war and adventure have come to be regarded as among the best in the English language.

His three books, Commando, Trekking On and Outspan are published as a trilogy in “Adrift in the Open Veld”. This new edition has been edited and published by our speaker Trevor Emslie.

The most well-known of the three is “Commando”.

Advocate and senior counsel at the Cape Bar specialising in the practice of tax law, our speaker Trevor Emslie has for the past 25 years published books broadly classified as “Africana”.

These include works by Herman Charles Bosman, C Louis Leipoldt, Olive Schreiner, Iris Vaughan, Sarah Raal, Willie Steyn, Victor Pohl, John Buchan and Deneys Reitz.

He is also the managing editor of “The Taxpayer” – South Africa’s oldest journal of tax law and practice.

After the fighting was over in 1902, Reitz chose to live in Madagascar rather than remain in South Africa under British rule.

J C Smuts persuaded him to return to South Africa.

He became a Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and South African High Commissioner to London.

During this time, he also studied law and founded “Deneys Reitz” which was to become a major South African law firm.

When World War 1 swept across the globe, he fought bravely alongside the British against the Germans, first in Africa and then on the Western Front, rising to command a battalion.