ANGLO-BOER WAR CONCENTRATION CAMP IN PORT ELIZABETH

Concentration camps were first implemented in South Africa by the British during the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902). The first to be established was in Port Elizabeth, which was functional between December 1900 and November 1902. Its existence came about shortly after the British invasion of the Free State, which is why most of the internees, Boer women and children, came from the Jagersfontein and Fauresmith districts. They had been removed as there was concern that they might ‘aid the enemy’. Although originally sited on the racecourse, by March 1901 the concentration camp had been moved to Lennox Road in Glendinningvale, close to the Kemsley Park Police Sports Ground and Old Grey Sports Club.

The memorial is surrounded by a symbolic barbed wire fence.

The camp housed about 200 children and 86 women in zinc and iron huts surrounded by a 1.5-m high fence, with approximately 32 men accommodated in a separate camp nearby. Among the notable internees were the mother, wife, three sisters-in-law, and children of General J. B. M. Hertzog, who was later to become the Prime Minister of South Africa. Fourteen people died at the concentration camp between November 1900 and April 1902. Seven-year-old Charles Neethling Hertzog died of measles shortly after his arrival in the camp.

Few families could afford a gravestone such as the one above and so the rest of the dead were buried in paupers’ graves in the North End Cemetery, where this memorial has been erected in their memory.

The names, ages, and date of death of those who died have been engraved on a marble memorial with the words Ons vir jou Suid Afrika (from the national anthem) inscribed above them.

The incarceration of women and children garnered adverse publicity in England, leading to Emily Hobhouse visiting the Port Elizabeth concentration camp first on her arrival in this country. Unlike the conditions she was to encounter in other concentration camps, she reported that these families had been made as comfortable as possible.

Despite early opposition to the establishment of a memorial on the site of this concentration camp, the Summerstrand branch of Dames Aktueel, supported by the Rapportryers, oversaw the erection of the monument which was unveiled on 29th October 1983.

FIG TREES AND BUILDINGS

Historical buildings, commercial buildings and private homes alike need constant maintenance. One of the threats to look out for are fig trees establishing themselves in the tiniest of cracks. If you look carefully at the picture below, you will see a fig tree growing on the wall of a commercial building in Port Elizabeth.

This one is growing at the base of the Martello Tower in Fort Beaufort.

An innocuous looking plant such as this one, growing next to a cannon on the walls of Fort Frederick in Port Elizabeth, has already established a long network of roots by the time it is noticed.

Before long it will look like this

Look at the roots emanating from this specimen growing on another wall of Fort Frederick.

Note the damage being caused to the roof of the former officer’s quarters at Post Retief.

This is how those threads of roots can swell with time to push brickwork asunder.

Here is an example of how a tiny seedling, such as we saw in the first photograph, can destroy a building unless something is done to curb its rampant growth.