Black Concentration Camps

Some 30000 Boer farmhouses were destroyed and the Boer women and children were removed to concentration camps. Of necessity the Black servants and workers also had to be removed, to prevent them from helping their employers on commando with food and information.

Furthermore nobody was left on the farm to feed them. Thirty-seven Black concentration camps are recorded in Transvaal (the former South African Republic) and twenty-nine in the Orange River Colony (the former Orange Free State).

These camps held an estimated total of 115 000 people at the height of their existence. The camps were mainly sited along the railway lines from Bloemfontein northwards to Pretoria and then eastwards to Nelspruit. From Johannesburg the camps were established south eastwards down the line to Volksrust and some along the line from the Orange River to Taung in the Northern Cape.

Local camps not on main railway lines were those at Thaba Nchu, Winburg, Heilbron and Harrismith. The locality of the camps in Natal, have as yet not been established. Initially the camps were under the control of the military but after June 1901 the control was passed on to the newly established Department of Native Refugees.

Half of the recorded Black deaths occurred in the three months between November and January 1901 - 2831 deaths were recorded in December 1901. Some 81% of the deaths were children. Officially 14154 deaths were recorded but as the records of the camps are unsatisfactory the number could be as high as 20000.