1876F. BoyleSavage Life 32‘Me your Kaffir, baas,’ says he; ‘give me briefje to Mr. Jardine after breakfast, and he pay me £2?’
1896H.L. TangyeIn New S. Afr. 284I desire to send a letter to one of my friends at Selukwe, so I take advantage of the travelling post-office — that is, I stop one of a party of boys and give him a ‘briefie,’ as it is called in Kaffir pigeon English (and in Flemish!)
1899Mafeking Mail 7 Nov.We’re besieged by the blooming old Boers,..They’ve sent us in briefjes by scores..Saying ‘Surrender’.
1913C. PettmanAfricanderisms 88Briefje,..A note or letter; sometimes it is used of the ‘Pass’ which a native must have when passing from one part of the country to another with stock.
2.In historical contexts.A note or licence given by a land-owner to a digger, usually at a small fee, entitling him to the freehold of a claim, and constituting a lease in perpetuity. Also attributive.
1910J. AngoveIn Early Days 26The original diggers at Du Toit’s Pan held their claims by right of a note, or licence, issued by the owner of the farm, termed a ‘briefje’, hence the claims held under these titles were known as ‘briefje claims.’
1924S.G. MillinGod’s Step-Children 93A little corrugated iron shed, at the open window of which, before a deal table, sat a red-faced man writing an official looking paper. It was he, thought Kleinhans, who probably gave people the briefje — the licence — to dig.
1931G. BeetGrand Old Days 52Some of the brighter knights of the shovel got the better of the guileless and bewildered owner by..obtaining, at a cost of 7s. 6d. each, concessions or claim ‘briefjes,’ which occasioned a heap of trouble afterwards.
1950E. RosenthalHere Are Diamonds 199Today the word ‘Briefie’..no longer stands merely for a claim held under the original Orange Free State Diamond Law of 1871, but is often used by farmers for ordinary deeds of transfer.
1968J.T. McNishRd to El Dorado 134A man named Meyer..gave a digger named Prinsloo a ‘briefie’ to work section H.5 on the Harrisdale Estate, and found a few hours later he had thereby lost to his own syndicate diamonds worth, then, £100,000.
1968J.T. McNishRd to El Dorado 220There was uproar and defiance, the diggers refusing to comply, many now producing the scores of ‘briefies’ they had got..giving them the right to seek for diamonds for all time.
1976B. RobertsKimberley 20We paid down our money, and he granted us ‘briefies’ (written licences) in acknowledgement. This is the origin of what are known as ‘briefie claims’. They constituted to all intents and purposes leases in perpetuity.
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