H.M.S. Magicienne served off South Africa from 11.10.1899 to November 1900.
She patrolled the waters of Lourenco Marques with other ships of the Fleet. On one occasion the Royal Navy was thwarted by the French Gironde when she was carrying Colonel Villebois-Mareuil, the legendary former Commanding Officer of the Foreign Legion who fought with the Boers, to South Africa. It was a narrow escape:
'It was a performance that impressed the Colonel, who reported that the Gironde's commander had quite intentionally misunderstood the British signals to stop. Had Villebois been on the Gironde's next voyage he could hardly have escaped. By that time the British authorities were aware of Villebois' presence among the Boers and they were in any case determined to make the blockade of the Portuguese ports more effective. On Christmas Eve 1899 the Cruiser H.M.S. Magicienne was lying in wait for the Gironde with all its lights out.
'Suddenly', Captain Riviere reported, 'the ship put on its position lights, fired a shot ahead of us, cutting our course and flooding us with searchlights. Believing that I had to deal with a warship which was signalling me to stop, I did so.' Two Officers from the Magicienne then boarded the Cruiser and carried out a search of the ship but found nothing untoward' (The French Colonel refers).