Concentration Camps

In early March 1901 Lord Kitchener decided to break the stalemate that the extremely costly war had settled into. It was costing the British taxpayer 2,5 million pounds a month. He decided to sweep the country bare of everything that can give sustenance to the Boers i.e. cattle, sheep, horses, women and children.

Scorched Earth Policy

The W H Coetzer triptych depicting the Scorch Earth policy - War Museum of the Boer Republics

This scorched earth policy led to the destruction of about 30000 Boer farmhouses and the partial and complete destruction of more than forty towns.. Thousands of women and children were removed from their homes by force.They had little or no time to remove valuables before the house was burnt down. They were then taken by oxwagon or in open cattle trucks to the nearest camp.

Conditions in the camps were less than ideal. Tents were overcrowded. Reduced-scale army rations were provided. In fact there were two scales. Meat was not included in the rations issued to women and children whose menfolk were still figthing. There were little or no vegetables, no fresh milk for the babies and children, 3/4 lb of either mealie meal, rice or potatoes, 1 lb of meat twice weekly, I oz of coffee daily, sugar 2 oz daily, and salt 0,5 oz daily (this was for adults and children who had family members on commando).