n Journal for Contemporary History - "The suspects are not to be treated as prisoners or convicts" - a labour camp for Africans associated with the Boer Commandoes during the Anglo-Boer War

Volume 36, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



Over the past quarter of a century much has been written on African involvement in the Anglo-Boer War and on the imprisonment of civilians and military combatants during this conflict. Not mentioned in these writings is the labour camp created on the Bluff, Durban, for Africans suspected of collaborating with the Republican forces. In this institutional biography the rationale for the creation of the camp as well as life in it - from its creation in April 1900 to its closure in early 1902 - is investigated. The central argument of the article is that instead of treating captured Africans suspected of collaborating with the Boer commandoes as prisoners of war or as traitors guilty of high treason they were channelled to the Durban harbour to carry out forced labour on the breakwater. In the process, during a period of acute labour shortages, these suspects were central to the development of the Bluff wharfside.

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