Total War Traces

Total War Traces

Recovering a history of black concentration camps near Kimberley from the South African War (1899-1902)

Dr Garth Benneyworth

“They are in great poverty and misery and our visit was a comfort to them. Many are dying from day to day – what is to become of the survivors I cannot think. Between the Dutch and the English they have lost everything, and there being no political party interested in their destiny, they ‘go to the wall’ as the weakest are bound to do.” – Reverend WHR Brown, a missionary who visited the Dry Harts concentration camp in September 1901.

During the South African War of 1899-1902, the most well-known human violation of Human Rights, were the destruction of private property by the British forces and the subsequent establishment of concentration camps for white and black South African civilians (mostly who were women and children), by the British military authority. The Dry Harts camp in the Northern Cape was established for black farmworkers, and was just one of many of these camps that were created by the British military authority. The Human Rights violations in these concentration camps eventually lead to the deaths of thousands of the concentration camps’ inhabitants. The world must remember and guard against the suffering that war causes and the subsequent violation of Human Rights that take place during such terrible times.

The Online Exhibition entitled: Traces: History of black concentration camps near Kimberley from the South African War (1899-1902) was compiled by Dr Garth Benneyworth.

Dr. Garth Benneyworth is a Senior Research Associate: Department of Historical Studies, at the University of Johannesburg and Head of Department: Heritage Studies at Sol Plaatje University. His international experience of the Heritage Sector included developing and curating numerous exhibitions including the Nelson Mandela National Museum, Liliesleaf: A Place of Liberation, Chief Albert Luthuli Museum, Magersfontein Battlefield Museum, Life in the Camp (Paris) and the Voortrekker Monument. He specialises in War Studies and the Heritage of Conflict with a focus on the Armed Struggle of the Liberation Movements and the South African War, in particular the black concentration camps of that conflict. From 1999 to 2018, he located thirteen of these historic camp terrains and pioneered the first ever-archaeological surveys on black concentration camps in South Africa.

The article by Dr Benneyworth can be found on the Museum’s website under the Research – Journals and Articles tab.



Civilians on route to one of seven forced labour camps in Harrismith


Description of Lord Kitchener army circular 1900

































Posted: 2022-03-16 08:00:44