Dassen Island Light House, Dassen Island Dr, Yzerfontein, 7351, South Africa
Klaas Blank (1705–1735) was a South African figure. Klaas Blank, a Khoi youth, was sentenced in 1718 to 50 years’ imprisonment on Robben Island for reasons which remain unknown. He became the first recorded instance of someone sentenced to death for sodomy in Cape Town. He was executed by drowning in Table Bay in 1735 together with his co-accused, Rijkhaart Jacobz (1700 - 1735), a Dutch sailor of Rotterdam, when both were in their mid-thirties. Evidence was given that they were seen committing sodomy as early as 1724 on Dassen Island, where they had been sent by prison authorities to collect seal blubber. The sergeant in charge on Robben Island was, according to the court record, informed of these acts but turned a blind eye. He was relieved of his post partly for this reason. His replacement was less tolerant and through severe beating obtained a confession from Jacobz relating to other occasions on which he and Klaas were seen having sex together. These confessions were confirmed in court, leading to their conviction and execution. Their case was not an isolated one. Between 1705 and 1792 more than 200 men were tried, under Dutch law, in 150 sodomy trials conducted by the Court of Justice in Cape Town. Sentences were determined by the nature of the crimes – the death sentence for actual sodomy, and milder punishments, such as flogging, banishment and forced labour, for the crimes of attempted sodomy and mutual masturbation.
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