The Rand Revolt happened in 1922, and it was one of the many definitive moments in the history of Johannesburg, labour, the mining industry and management. The reverberations are still felt today, and the recriminations would reverberate for many years after the fact.
It is not my place to comment on it or expound on the reasons and results of it. All I will say is that many of the casualties of this action lay in the cemeteries in Brixton, Braamfontein, and out on the East Rand. Of course who knows how many ended up in paupers graves in Braamfontein, it has always been rumoured that a mass grave exists in that cemetery. With hindsight I suspect that the mass grave contains the bodies of African casualties, but there is no way to prove it. During the course of my cemetery meanderings I did encounter a few of these Rand Revolt related graves and I would like to show these on the relevant pages. The death toll varies between sources, but these graves are only a small representation of what is a much larger picture. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to tie in a specific grave to the event, unless that grave has an inscription that is relevant to the Rand Revolt.
The number of casualties is difficult to pin down, and a number of sources give different totals depending on how the numbers are made up. This table is from: 2000 Casualties, A History of the South African Labour Movement. By Ivan L. Walker and Ben Weinbren. Published by The South African Trade Union Council. 1961
|Killed/Died of wounds||Wounded||Total|
There are quite a few Rand Revolt remnants still around, the Trades Hall in Johannesburg is still standing, as are the toilets in Fordsburg Square and a few of the old buildings in that area. There is also the derelict Anzac Memorial in Brakpan. The Transvaal Scottish Headquarters in Parktown also has a plaque from the strike in their museum. The one really amazing survivor is a Whippet Tank that was used during the Revolt, it still survives as a gate guard in Pretoria.
More information on the tank may be found at the South African Military History Society website.
Photographs of Whippet Tank, Lt G. Gordon-Gray, Capt W.W. Carey-Thomas and RW Taylor graves courtesy of Terry Cawood, J Milne image by Ronnie Lovemore.
DRW © 2007-2019. Updated 11/07/2011. Edited and added new images 02/05/2012. Moved to Blog 08/05/2014. Edited 11/02/2018