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Call for comments on proposed memorial honouring black South Africans who died in WWI

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is proposing the creation of a new memorial honouring black South Africans, who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-1918). Picture: Supplied

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is proposing the creation of a new memorial honouring black South Africans, who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-1918). Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 14, 2021


Cape Town - The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who is issuing this call for public comments and inputs on the proposed creation of a new memorial, honouring black South Africans who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-1918).

The proposed memorial would bear the names of more than 1 600 service men, who lost their lives during the First World War and, until now, have not formerly been commemorated.

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The names of these men came to light following extensive research in South Africa's National Archives.

They served with a variety of units, including the Cape Coloured Labour Regiment, Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport, the Military Labour Bureau, and the Military Labour Corps.

Unlike the South African Native Labour Contingent, which would serve in Europe and is well known for its connection to the SS Mendi, these men joined in Africa for service in Africa.

Believed to be buried either in South Africa or elsewhere on the African continent, this memorial will be a permanent reminder of their sacrifice, while providing space for additional names, should more come to light in the future.

Without the vital contribution of these men to transport and labour, the war in Africa could not have been fought. Yet this story is not well known, despite its enormous cost in lives.

The aim is to encourage broad engagement with this lesser-known aspect of South Africa's participation in First World War and introduce this historic period to a younger generation of South Africans.

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Notice has been given that an application, in terms of Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act, will be submitted to Heritage Western Cape regarding ERF 95135, Delville Wood Memorial Garden, in the Cape Town Company’s Gardens.

Before the memorial can be commissioned, the CWGC is inviting members of the public, and other interested and affected parties, to comment on the application:

This monument, if approved by Heritage Western Cape, will be erected in the Company Gardens, in close proximity to the historical Old Granary building, home of The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

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The Foundation supports this important initiative, honouring the memory of these fallen and forgotten black South African soldiers.

The development of such a memorial will not only include public participation, it will also incorporate a series of education initiatives.

Should people or their organisation have any comments or queries regarding this project or the documentation, or if people would like to participate in the process and be notified of further opportunities to provide comment, they are encouraged to ensure that they register as an I&AP in writing and/or provide written comment/objection, by no later than November 25, 2021.

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A series of Focus Group Meetings, with key stakeholders and a public Open House, will be held during October and November, 2021, so early registration of Interested and Affected Parties is encouraged.

Register with: Michelle Lee

Chand Environmental Consultants

Email: [email protected]

Call: 021 762 3050

Kindly note that objections or comments, that are not made on heritage grounds, will not be considered.

Late objections/comments, received after November 25, 2021, may not be considered.

Cape Argus