David Rattray: One year after he was killed ... still remembered

Historians in the News

A year after the death of renowned Anglo-Zulu War expert David Rattray, whose murder sent shock waves around the world, his unique reputation lives on.

He was killed in front of his wife, Nicky, in a botched attempted robbery at his Fugitives' Drift Lodge and Guest House at Rorke's Drift on January 26 last year.

Police were swift to round up the first of the six-strong gang, and five have so far been arrested. Three have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including the trigger man, who received 25 years. Two others, who plan to deny any involvement, are still awaiting trial.

Police Director Johan Booysen, of the Organised Crime Unit, said on Thursday that the police knew who the sixth suspect was, and it was "just a matter of time before we track him down".

An exceptional orator and passionate historian, Rattray regularly gave presentations overseas on the Anglo-Zulu War, creating interest for his business, the war and also for other tourism businesses in the region.

"His talks were spellbinding. Even if he was talking about something like running a bed-and-breakfast business at one of our tourism meetings, you could always guarantee the place would be packed out," said Dave Sutcliffe, chairman of the Battlefields Tour Guides Association.

"His presentations overseas were an enormous advertising platform for the area and we have lost that. He has left very big shoes to fill."

However, tourism had not suffered as a result of his murder; if anything, it had increased soon afterwards as a result of the huge publicity surrounding his murder, Sutcliffe said.

Rattray's widow vowed to continue her work at the lodge and said on Thursday that there had been no cancellations, while future bookings were looking "good".

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