Cape Town Honours Fallen Heroes: New Memorial to Black South African WWI Servicemen Unveiled

Cape Town welcomes construction of new Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) memorial to commemorate Black South African servicemen who perished in the First World War

  • New memorial breaks ground at intimate ceremony.
  • The Cape Town Labour Corps Memorial is the first memorial to spotlight the CWGC’s continued commitment to ensure all are commemorated equally.
From Left: Mayor Geordin Hill – Lewis (The Mayor of the City of Cape Town), Sidney Maliwa (Descendent of Magwayi Maliwa, a serviceman being honoured in the memorial), Joey Monareng (Senior Operations Supervisor at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), Councillor van der Ross Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services & Health) and Charles Garrett (Director Global Strategy & Commonwealth Affairs at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). Credit: Rizqua Barnes

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis this morning marked the commencement of construction for the landmark new Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cape Town Labour Corps Memorial – at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town.

The Cape Town Labour Corps Memorial, funded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), will commemorate the lives of more than 1,700 Black South African servicemen who served in non-combat roles and perished without a known grave or previous commemoration during the First World War. The men served with the Cape Coloured Labour Regiment, the Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport, the Military Labour Bureau, and the Military Labour Corps of South Africa.

Speaking at the ceremonial sod-turning, Mayor Hill-Lewis said: “We are proud to honour, through this Cape Town Labour Corps Memorial, more than 1700 servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against tyranny more than a century ago. Once completed, this memorial will be a wonderful tribute to black South African servicemen who perished in the First World War, and whose stories were often overlooked in the telling of that history. I can think of no better place to remember their contribution than right here in our beautiful and much-loved Company’s Garden in the heart of the Mother City.”

The memorial is the first to be created by the CWGC in response to previous inequalities in commemoration after the First World War.