South Africa to get a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


There are at least 15 military memorials commemorating South African soldiers both in country and overseas according to the Reserve Force with another two under development.

One of those is listed as being under development by the Reserve Force is a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) memorial. It will be erected to honour members of the defence force who made the supreme sacrifice subsequent to South Africa becoming a democratic state on April 27, 1994. No details as to location and when construction is expected to start or be completed are given.

The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) will in the current financial year, as part of its heritage mandate, identify a site for the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and develop an initial design for it. According to the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) for defence tabled by Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, the DMV also has plans for eight memorials sites for heroes’ acres and monuments in every province (sic). Funds for these are in the heritage memorials, burials and honours sub-programme of the department’s stakeholder management programme which has been allocated R582,2 million in the 2015.16 financial cycle.

The Reserve Force’s updated listing of memorials, in no particular order, starts with Freedom Park, situated on Salvokop south of the Pretoria CBD and with a direct line of sight to the seat of government, the Sir Herbert Baker-designed Union Buildings on Meintjieskop.

Freedom Park has a list of names of those killed in the South African wars, world War l and ll as well as those who died during the struggle for freedom. Although no remains are kept at Freedom Park, there are some symbols representing the heroes of South Africa’s past struggles. The 697m long Wall of Names is inscribed with the names of some who died in past conflicts. The Wall has space for 136,000 names. More than 75,000 have been listed since 2007.

In the grounds of the Union Buildings is a Delville Wood memorial in tribute to troops who died in WWl as well as a plaque to commemorate South African deaths in the Korean War.

Also in Pretoria and on the south-eastern side of the city bowl is Fort Klapperkop. It is home to the Infantry Memorial with a statue of “troepie”, a young soldier with an R1 rifle.

Atteridgeville, on the western side of Pretoria, is home to Game Thago Resort with its centrepiece, the SS Mendi Memorial. Other Mendi memorials are at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto, New Brighton in Port Elizabeth, Portsmouth harbour in the United Kingdom and one unveiled last year on the Mowbray campus on the University of Cape Town.

The grounds of the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town house the Eternal Flame of Remembrance. Its inscription reads: “In commemoration of the brave of all our peoples who laid down their lives for their beliefs and ideals in wars within and beyond the frontiers of our country”.

The South African War Memorial stands on the northern side of the Johannesburg zoo in Saxonwold and is officially the Rand Regiments Memorial. It is dedicated to the men of the Rand Regiments who fell in the South African War (1899 – 1902).

The SA Air Force (SAAF) Memorial stands on Bays Hill, north of AFB Zwartkop, the first air force base in South Africa, given to the country as part of the Imperial Gift. It was opened in 1963 and is shaped in the form of a star with three wings.

Simon’s town, headquarters of the SA Navy fleet, is also home to the SA Navy memorial where an annual memorial service is held to coincide with the Navy Festival, taking place this year from March 20 to 22.

The Voortrekker Monument is Pretoria hosts the SA Defence Force Wall of Remembrance, inaugurated in October 2009 to commemorate SADF soldiers who died between May 31, 1961 and April 27, 1994.

Other memorials listed are the Gunners and Ladysmith in South Africa and the National War Memorial Deville Wood, France; the SA War Memorial in Richmond upon Thames in London and Arques-la-Bataille cemetery near Dieppe in France.