Times of Oman
Nov 25, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 01:15 PM GMT
A political cover-up - The David Grey Rattray murder
May 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM

It was a classic moment of British imperial history... when less than 60 red-coated infantrymen fought off thousands of marauding Zulus, dying in the attempt and turning defeat into a Victorian legend.

That was siege of the remote South African Rorke's Drift in the Zulu War of 1879, which resulted in 11 posthumous VCs and turned tragedy into triumph and the Zulu nation into villains of history.

That was until, more than a century later, David Rattray decided to put the record straight. A South African historian, he decided to put the Zulu side of the war — to explain why the Zulu nation felt the British had given them a raw deal.

As a result the mild-mannered academic found to his surprise that he was being hailed as the "White Zulu" and became an international media hero.

The Zulu wars became David Rattray's life. Many feel they also brought about his violent and untimely death.

A fluent Zulu speaker, Rattray moved with his family to Zulu territory, building a house and a resort hotel overlooking Rorke's Drift and began to research the history of the nation and put together the other side of the story.

Soon his mesmerising lectures on the Zulu war made his Fugitives' Drift resort hotel a major tourist destination. Thousands came to hear him give talks which raised tens of thousands of pounds for Zulu causes and charities.

Rattray's passion for the Zulu cause dated from his childhood. His father owned land in the area and young David learned local languages and pieced together the battle narratives from the Zulu point of view.

They were very different from the version to be made famous by the movie Zulu, starring Michael Caine and Stanley Baker.

So obsessed did Rattray become with the untold stories of the Zulu wars that he decided to make them his life's study. When he was 30 he moved to Rorke's Drift with his wife Nicky and three sons from where they guided tourists around the battlefield sites. He discovered he was a very gifted story-teller and soon his lectures, often lasting as long as four hours, were holding his listeners spellbound and often reducing them to tears.

He became a close friend of the UK's Prince Charles, who stayed at Rorke's Drift with his sons after the death of Princess Diana. Soon battlefield tours were becoming a major tourist attraction, providing much needed income for the Zulus.

One friend said: "He put food on their tables and gave them a dignity they hadn't enjoyed since their days as warriors. He treated them with respect and everyone loved him."

Not everyone. In December 2006, six armed men arrived at his lodge. Witnesses would say that 48-year-old David Rattray was told "to stay out of Zulu politics".

When it was obvious that he would do no such thing, the men came back a week later and shot him dead.

Police have always maintained it was a robbery that ended in violence but witnesses claim that the men left empty-handed and that the man who shot Rattray was even sent back twice to shoot him a third time. Eye-witnesses would claim that the killers burst into the hotel and held up the receptionist, shouting: "Where's David? Leaving one man to guard the receptionist at gunpoint the other five moved on to the family's one-storey farmhouse 100 yards behind the hotel.

There they confronted David's wife, Nicky who asked what they wanted. At that moment David Rattray was changing his clothes before going cycling — a sport he had taken up to keep fit.

Hearing his wife's voice, he hurried out to confront the men, asking them not to harm his wife or the hotel staff.

"I expect it's me you want," he said. They were the last words he spoke.  
He was shot at point-blank range in the chest and shoulders while charging at the gunmen to protect his wife.

Another eye-witness said: "They were coming for Dave. They didn't look at Nicky or any of the expensive things in the house. There were

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