'Presented to J.W. Lawrance, Esq. by Compound & Hospital Officials, Mine Police & Friends on Crown Mines as a mark of their esteem' inscribed on a plaque adhered to the base.
The Accused – or The Basuto Witness, as it has also been titled – is one of Van Wouw’s most poignant and beautiful portraits. It shows a testifying mineworker, his arms close to his sides, his eyelids heavy and weary, his brow deeply furrowed, and his expression one of bewilderment and unease. There is no way of knowing on which side of the law the mineworker stands, but despite his obvious anxiety, he remains proud and dignified.
The present casting is an exquisite example, and it would have come out of the Massa foundry after 1936. The frayed edges of the figure’s makeshift hessian vest are sharp and hard to the touch, the lines of his lips and cheekbones keen and graceful, and his skin supple and unblemished.
The sitter for this work also appears in The Skapu Player (1907) and The Dagga Smoker (1907).
Esmé Berman (1983) Art and Artists of South Africa, Cape Town: AA Balkema. Another cast illustrated in black and white on page 344.
University of Pretoria (1981) Anton van Wouw en die van Wouwhuis, Durban: Butterworth & Co. Another cast illustrated in black and white on page 29, Fig. A18.
J Ernst (2006) Anton van Wouw: 'n Biographie. Vanderbijl Park: Corals. Another cast illustrated in black and white on page 70.