How did the Dutch administer the cape colony up to 1795?

How did the Dutch administer the cape colony up to 1795?
  • The cape colony of the Dutch was under the company role of the Dutch East Indian Company.
  • The company was headed by the council of 17 directors responsible for administering the cape.
  • The DEICO was owned by these 17 directors who were based in Netherlands




  • The appointment of civil and military officials was done by the company according the company charter.
  • From 1672 to 1794, the cape was headed by the official called the Governor.
  • Below the governor there were four organs that ensured effective administration and these were; council of policy, council of defense, council of justice and Dutch Reformed Church.
  • The instrument of government was the council of policy chaired by the governor.
  • The council of policy was made up of the company officials who were in charge of governing all the people in the colony.
  • Members of the council of policy made laws for the colony.
  • The settlers were not represented on the council of policy and sometimes protested against unfair official practices.
  • The council of policy consisted of eight permanent merchants.




  • The council of policy also established the council of justice to act as the court of justice.
  • However, the council of justice failed to do its work because the judges were not qualified.
  • Most of members of the council of justice were appointed from ordinary Dutch settlers.
  • Petty courts were established in 1682 consisting of two company officials and two burghers appointed annually to try minor cases and its decisions were subject to appeal.
  • In 1689, an official called independent fiscal was appointed to oversee the administration of justice and finance.
  • The council of war / defence (krygsraad) was set up by the government to defend the colony from both internal and external enemies.
  • The council of war created local militia units which had Boer commandos
  • All men were meant to be in these militia units. These units acted as a company force.
  • The Dutch reformed church controlled cultural, social and economic life of the sellers.




  • The church set up matrimonial courts to interview and advice young couples who wanted to get married.
  • The church promoted Boar nationalism and encouraged the belief that all land belonged to Boers.
  • The number of people employed in the company kept on increasing. For example in 1662, there were 120 officials number increased to 1016 in 1732 and then 1645 and 2093 in 1764 and 1794 respectively.
  • In conclusion, the company extended its control to various parts of the colony but its influence and control decreased as the distance from the cape increased.

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