Page 123 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 123

 VOC administration from 1652
From the moment of Van Riebeek's landing at the Cape on 7th April 1652, until 16th September 1795, when the British took over the administration, the Cape of Good Hope was in the possession of the VOC. Its administrative structure was the same as that known by the Company's Asiatic offices. In 1652 all functions of government, legislature, execu- tive powers and jurisdiction, where put in the hands of a Politieke Raad (political council). Van Riebeek was chairman, and a secunde, a sergeant of the military, a bookkeeper and a secretary sat on the Council.8
The growth of the settlement soon made extension of the governmental apparatus necessary, and the ranks of the principal Company servants were upgraded accordingly. Van Riebeek had already become commander in 1654, and in 1691 the rank of the Cape's commander was further upgraded to governor. The Politieke Raad was in 1685 increased to eight members and at the same time the judicature, invested in a Council of Justice, was separated from the other governmental duties. A special position was held by the independent-fiskaal, an official working at the Cape since 1688. This independent-fiskaal was in charge of criminal investigation and acted as public prosecutor: in this function he was independent of the local administration and only answerable to the Heren Zeventien, with whom he was entitled to correspond without interference from the governor and Council.9
The settlement at the Cape was, like all the VOCs overseas offices, subordinate to the Hoge Regering in Batavia. Copies of decisions of the Politieke Raad were therefore sent to Batavia and the settlement's financial results were incorporated in the general bookkee- ping of the Company in Asia.1 0 The Cape's geographical location made it a matter of course for correspondence to be conducted not only with Batavia but with the Heren Zeventien as well, and for copies of official papers to be sent to the Netherlands.
It became customary in the seventeenth century to entrust the inspection of the Cape settlement to the commander of the homeward fleet, provided he was higher in rank than the commander or governor of the Cape. Thus the commanders of the homeward fleet, during their stay at the Cape, presided over the Politieke Raad as commissioners for the Cape business. The diligent among them did indeed take trouble to examine finances and inspect the upkeep of buildings like the hospital, the warehouses etc. Matters concerning the homeward fleet, such as seaworthiness of ships, punishment of crew members, or transfer and promotion of officers, were dealt with in a combined meeting of the Politieke Raad and the Brede Raad (broad council) of the fleet. Usually the masters of outward bound ships, who as a rule did not sail in convoy, were also drawn into consultations in the Politieke Raad about shipping affairs.11
Occasionally high officials on their way to Asia were charged with the inspection of the Cape. Twice the directors sent out so-called commissarissen-generaal who stayed at the Cape for quite some time to put matters in order. In 1685 H. A. van Reede tot Drakenstein was at the Cape in this capacity: the enlargement of the Politieke Raad, already mentioned, was one of his measures. In 1792-93 S. C . Nederburgh and S. H . Frijkenius stayed in
8 On the administration at the Cape: Katzen, 'White settlers'.
9 The instruction for the independent-fiskaal in Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 87, 136-142.
10 The latter, the incorporation of the financial results in the Batavia bookkeeping, was only done
from 1692 onwards; De Korte, De jaarlijkse financiële verantwoording, 37.
11 Böeseken, Nederlandsche commissarissen, 1-8, and for the eighteenth century id., Die Nederlandse
kommissarisse, 1-12.

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