South African Defence Force Memorial: Fort Klapperkop

The South African Defence Force Memorial at Fort Klapperkop could probably be moved to the extinct category as it seems to have lost its reason for existing, being superceded by the SADF Wall of Remembrance at the Voortrekker Monument.

The Memorial was unveiled on 31 May 1979, and the casualty names are arranged in order of year and rank on plaques surrounding the central statue.

Unveiling Plaque
Unveiling Plaque
Dedication Plaque
Dedication Plaque

There are many more names on the Wall of Remembrance at the Voortrekker Monument, and that may be part of the problem.  This Memorial does not incorporate all the members of the SADF that lost their lives, whereas the VTM wall does.

Typical Name Plaque
Typical Name Plaque

Fort Klapperkop was one of four forts constructed in 1897 to protect Pretoria against attacks. It was handed over to the ZAR Government on 18 January 1898. It was surrendered to the British with the fall of Pretoria, and from then on were manned and armed until 1902 by the Imperial Army. The 4 forts were handed to the Defence Force in 1921 and declared National Monuments in 1938. Schanskop and Klapperkop served as military museums but they were closed in 1993 and the forts were purchased by the city council.

The Memorial may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates  -25.779524°, 28.210037°

© DRW 2009-2018. Created 22/08/2009. Moved to blog 07/02/2014

South African Defence Force Wall of Remembrance: Voortrekker Monument

Following the non recognition of members of the SADF by the so called “freedom park”, it was decided that a fitting tribute be made to the members of the SADF that lost their lives in service. The South African Defence Force Wall of Remembrance was offically unveiled at the Voortrekker Monument on the 25th of October 2009.

The Wall was erected to pay tribute to the members of the SADF who lost their lives in service of their country over the period 31 May 1961 (the coming of the Republic) and 27 April 1994 (the birth of the SANDF). It was made possible through private donations and contributions in kind and no state funds were used to this end.

The area by the Wall has also become home to the 32 Battalion Tree of Honour which commemorates those soldiers of 32 Battalion who lost their lives during the border war, as well as the newly found 31/201 Battalion Memorial. Recently a niche wall was erected for those members of the SADF who would like to have their ashes at the memorial.

The commemoration service is held on the Sunday closest to the 31st of May, and I have attended a number of these since the opening of the wall. I have seen the service grow in size and the interest being shown is heart warming.

As each year passes so the list of casualties becomes more complete, and the supplementary list becomes longer, and each year more people acknowledge this memorial for the sacrifices it represents.

There is also a Memorial to the Unknown Soldier at the Wall,and a wreath always gets laid at this silent sentinel.

Memorial to The Unknown Soldier
Memorial to The Unknown Soldier

Recently the wall dedicated to the Honoris Crux, Van Riebeeck Medal, and Louw Wepener Decoration was also added, and a number of holders of these decorations were present.

A plaque relating to the Mapai Incident is also at the wall, and there are niches for the “Ebo Four”

I have too many images to show them all on this page, so am adding in these random images of a special place that has become a home for ex-soldiers, and a source of comfort and recognition for the many families who lost their loved ones in the defence of the country.  The Wall may be found at S25°46.546,  E28°10.460.



© DRW 2009-2018. Created 25/10/2009, updated 29/05/2011. Moved to blog 07/02/2014

Voortrekker Monument at Emma Park in Linden

Update 28/05/2018

When I first got interested in photographing memorials and monuments, I started to take a whole new interest in the Johannesburg Streetfinder, because often these would be listed on the maps. However, trying to find them was always problematic, especially the Voortrekker Memorial in Emma Park in Linden. I was living close to Linden at the time and I had no idea that such a place even existed in the first place. The location was given as Emma Park, but frankly I really had to search to find it. The weather in 2007 was overcast and I revisited in 2011 so most of my images date from 25/11/2011

Once the Emma Park Koppie was found it was a different story to actually find the memorial and  I was not even too sure what I was looking for. Fortunately I bumped into the local cat lady who pointed me to the path that was in the undergrowth. 

Emma Koppie in Linden (2011)
Emma Park Koppie in Linden (2011)

A quick search revealed a bit more of the story behind the memorial. “The (oxwagon) Johanna vd Merwe was dragged up the Emma Park Koppie by members of the church (The NGK in Linden) and the Laerskool Louw Geldenhuys. At the top of the koppie the hoofs of the oxen were imprinted in stone and on the other side at the Voortrekker Hall, the wheels were also imprinted. Afterwards there was a party at Emma Park.” (Special thanks to Mignon and Hendrik at “Wamakerskloof” for the information.)  

During the 1838 Trek, a group under the leadership of Dirkie Uys was attacked.  Johanna van der Merwe survived with multiple assagai wounds to her face. Against all odds she managed to warn the other “Trekkers” of the impending danger.  To honour her heroism a wagon on the centenary trip was named after her.  South Africa also named a submarine after her (

There is a replica bronze wagon at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria; it was designed by Kobus Esterhuizen in 1971 and was based on the Johanna Van Der Merwe. It was originally donated to the National Cultural Museum in Boom Street, Pretoria who donated in turn to the Voortrekker Monument in 1995. Unfortunately I was not able to find the original wagon when I was at the VTM.

Bronze wagon at the Voortrekker Monument

Like so many places in South Africa the koppie was very run down and overgrown when I was there, and there was evidence of people sleeping in the bush. In fact, in 2007 there was an extremely drunk guy having a nap next to the memorial. 


Translated as:  

This was erected to commemorate the receiving of the Oxwagon.
‘Johanna van der Merwe’
 on 10 December 1938.
It was consecrated on 16 December 1939,
by Aunt G.M.E v.d.Merwe” )

But what about the hoofprints?

I returned to the monument in November 2011 to see what state it was in, and all I could see was that the koppie had been fenced and was more overgrown than before.

Close by is the local Voortrekker Hall, and it was there that a similar set of imprints were made, but I was not able to even get anywhere close to the building as it was fenced, however I did manage to zoom into the plaques against the wall.

Interestingly enough there is another Voortrekker Memorial at the Waterval Gemeente in the Newlands area and I photographed it in 2012.

And that was Emma Park, a little known piece of history that has been all but forgotten over the years. If it was stolen tomorrow the odds are that nobody would even notice.  Who was Emma? your guess is as good as mine, although it may refer to Emmarentia Geldenhuys, wife of Louw Geldenhuys who is buried in nearby Emmarentia

David Batzofin visited the monument in 2016, and you can read his impressions on his blog

In March 2018 I was contacted by the South African War Grave Society  (Registration No.: 203-374 NPO) who were looking at restoring the Emma Park Monument. They are currently in consultation with Councillor Mrs. Nicole van Dyk with a view to cleaning up the area in and around the monument. It is hoped that the community in Linden will get behind the initiative and help to fund the restoration.

*Update 28/05/2018*


This monument commemorates the 1938 symbolic oxwagon trek from the Cape that visited the koppie. It continues to hold significance for Afrikaans youth. The koppie itself is also of historical and cultural significance. The monument is an expression of the strong historical presence of Afrikaans speakers in Linden, which developed as a predominantly Afrikaans area in the midst of the mostly English-speaking northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Legal Status (Decree/Act):

Protected under Section 37 of the National Heritage Resources Act (Public Monuments and Memorials). “Public monuments and memorials must, without the need to publish a notice to this effect, be protected in the same manner as places which are entered in a heritage register …” Since the Voortrekker Memorial in Linden is older than 60 years, it is also protected in terms of Section 34 of the same Act.

Authority Responsible: Provincial Heritage Resources Authority – (Gauteng)

Use: Previous: MONUMENT Current: MONUMENT

Source(s) of Information

  1. Site visit and clean up
  2. Johannesburg Sentrale Volksfeestekomittee, Gedenkboek: 1838 Voortrekkereufees 1938, p. 104

Current Activities:

The South African War Grave Society formed an Association with the Youth Organization “Die Transvaal Voortrekker”, Linden Bowling Club and as friends the Residents Association of Linden, Risidale and Montroux and Ward Councillor Nicole van Dyk with the name “ Johanna van der Merwe Voortrekker Monument Association (JvdM VT).

JvdM VT is in the process of adopting the Emma Park Koppie with the Monument and will maintain it in future. The Emma Park Koppie needs to be restored, therefore we need funds and buildings material to make this project a success.

On the 19th of May 2018, SAWGS and the JvdM VT organised a cleanup of the Koppie where the Monument is situated. A group from the Youth Organization “Die Voortrekker Linden” along with members of SAWGS, Resident Associations, JvdM VT and Ward Councillor Nicole van Dyk helped to clean the site. The Chairman of SAWGS and JvdM VT is in contact with the Johannesburg Arts, Culture and Heritage Service as well as with the Provincial Heritage to carry the project forward.

Cleaning up the mess….

(Heritage Linden Report and images, supplied by the South African War Grave Society May 2018)

© DRW 2007-2018. Retrospectively created 18/06/2016.  Edited 28/05/2018, added in material from recent cleanup of the koppie. Edited 10/02/2018 with more information courtesy of Diederik Johannes Cloete, Some information from

A Voortrekker Monument in Newlands, Johannesburg.

I have to admit this was a strange find that I made while on my way to the cemetery in 2012.

Situated in the grounds of the “Waterval Gemeente” Dutch Reformed Church in Newlands, it is the sort of thing easily missed. I only spotted it because I was curious about the magnificent church building.

The monument has a plaque “In Herrinering Van Die Voortrekkers” at its base, and a relief on the one side. Underneath the structure, in a barred area are the imprints of the wagon that came through here at the time (This could tie into the Voortrekker Monument in Emma Park.) The church dates from 1928 and is still in use. Unfortunately the monument is very difficult to access because of vegetation and fencing. 

As usual with a find like this, the context is everything and I was fortunate enough to get to talk with a member of the church which is why I know what is underneath the cairnlike structure.  

"Waterval Gemeente"
“Waterval Gemeente”

I was also fortunate enough to get to look around the church interior.

And in spite of the keyboard and drums there is still a beautiful old pipe organ

Fortunately I found the cornerstone which is surprisingly informative, 

There is an Afrikaans wikipedia page for the church, and the church has its own website too. 

You can only really get a good look at the back of the church because the front has been really hidden by the trees and foliage palisade fence. 

DRW ©  2012-2018. Created 31/05/2012. Moved to blog 05/02/2014, images added 05/08/2018

Downed Rhodesian Viscount Memorial; Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria

This Memorial, unveiled on 2 September 2012, is situated  at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. The original images of this memorial were kindly provided by Ryno Human and were used with his permission. I have since replaced these images with those taken by Igmar Grewar

The shooting down of these two Rhodesian civilian aircraft on the 12th of February 1979, and the 3rd of September 1978 has always been contentious, especially in the light of the callous and coldblooded slaughter of 10 survivors on the ground. The incidents did bring about reprisals from both sides, but no real satisfactory explanation was ever forthcoming from those responsible.

Sadly the truth will never come out, and any attempt to reach some sort of answer has always resulted in official bluster and denial. However, this memorial serves as a reminder that the horror and barbarity of warfare can affect those who are not in the military too.

© DRW 2013-2018. Images © Igmar Grewar and Ryno Human. Created 10 July 2013. Moved to blog 27/01/2014. Images replaced 16/03/2014. Removed dead link 10/03/2016. Replaced original ROH images that were displaying incorrectly and replaced with one large image 22/05/2016.

The Koevoet Memorial; Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria

The Koevoet Memorial is situated  at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria and images of it were kindly provided by Ryno Human and are used with his permission.

The Memorial was unveiled on 6 April 2013 by Lt Genl “Sterk Hans” JG Dreyer SOO, SOE. Founder and officer commanding Koevoet.  The Roll of Honour may be found at South African Police Officers Memorial.

More images are available at the Koevoet Memorial page

© DRW 2013-2018.  Images © Ryno Human. Created 08/07/2013. Moved to blog 25/01/2014.

32 Battalion Roll of Honour

Roll of Honour.

The names are in the order that the brass plaques are placed on the Tree of Honour. The limitations of this page have meant that I am using an image of the original post of the ROH I had on my website. (Image opens in a new window)

 © DRW 2009-2018. Recreated 12/11/2014.

32 Battalion Tree of Honour

The 32 Battalion Tree of Honour  was originally unveiled on 26 May 1985 by Maj Genl. GL Meiring, commander of SWATF. Originally from Buffalo in the Caprivi, it was subsequently moved to Pomfret and then to Zeerust, finally being planted at the Voortrekker Monument on 10 October 2009.
The photograph above was taken at the unveiling of The South African Defence Force Wall of Remembrance at the Voortrekker Monument on 25 October 2009. 

The Tree of Honour holds the names of members of 32 Battalion who were killed in action 1976-1991, each emblazoned on a small brass plate.  

The Roll of Honour may be found at my 32 Battalion ROH Page

When I last saw it the Tree of Honour in 2012 it had been moved from its original spot, to a different area close the Wall of Remembrance. It had also been trimmed and work had been done on it to preserve if for future generations.

The Tree may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates -25.775545°,  28.174480°

© DRW 2009-2018. Created 25 October 2009. Updated 31/08/2010, moved to blog 01/01/2014, edited 21/05/2015 to space images better and to fix errors.

31/201 Battalion Memorial

I do not know the history of this memorial or of 31/201 Battalion, I encountered it for the first time while attending a memorial service at the Voortrekker Monument. These images I took on  29 May 2011. 
When I saw it  some of the brass plaques were barely legible (overzealous polishing?)  but the Battalion Roll of Honour is available at the  31/201 Bn website. The Needle was due to be unveiled at a ceremony on the 18th September 2011.

Information Plate
Information Plate

Google Earth co-ordinates for the memorial are roughly -25.775656°  28.174189°

© DRW 2007-2018. Created 29 May 2011. Updated 30 August 2011. Moved to blog 01/01/2014