The Voortrekkers clear the cemetery of the Turffontein concentration camp

A group of volunteers from the Voortrekkers and the Federation of Afrikaans Culture (FAK) cleared the cemetery of the Turffontein concentration camp on May 28.

The cemetery is located in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg.

In one corner is a small white tombstone with the words “François Johannes Bekker”. Gebore February 12, 1901. Oorlede December 17, 1901.’

This is not just a story about little François but about thousands of children and women who died in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.

The campgrounds have been closed to the public for the past few years which has caused the camp to deteriorate to its current state.

Grant Butler and Brian Butler help clean up the Turffontein Concentration Camp Cemetery. Photo: supplied.

The Suiderlig Voortrekker Commando with the help of the Org Meyer and Kompas Field Cornets and the FAK decide to join forces to help clear the campsites.

Gerhard Gericke, leader of the Oosvaal-Voortrekkers, said: “It fills my heart with pride to see how many people still want to protect their heritage. It’s also good to see that people who don’t necessarily belong to the FAK or the Voortrekkers are spending time helping with the cleanup. We also realize that it will take at least four more Saturdays before the campgrounds are in good shape again.

Along with the people who helped with the cleanup, there was also a group of radio amateurs with the help of Heritage On The Air to spread a message of hope.

Handri van der Loo, commando leader of the Unika Voortrekker Commando, was present with his scouts to learn the importance of protecting his heritage while also honoring those who were buried in the cemetery.

Van der Loo knows the area and his story goes that the concentration camp was based at the Turffontein Hippodrome, forcing camp residents to walk about 6 km to bury their loved ones.

Louw and Elri Geldenhuis busy cleaning the Turffontein concentration camp cemetery in Mondeor. Photo: provided.

“You can’t even begin to think in what poor conditions the people in the camp had to stay and to make matters worse they had to see daily how those they loved, young and old, died,” van der said. Loo.

“It is very important not only to remember these people, but also to honor them for what they have done.”

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