Rand Revolt Graves and Remnants

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 are buried in the cemeteries in Brixton, Braamfontein, and out on the East Rand. A temporary cemetery was established in Milner Park on 12 March 1922 and on 5 May 1924, the last of the 33 military and 29 striker/civilian remains were removed from it for reburial, with some of the casualties from there being buried up in a mass grave in Braamfontein Cemetery. 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.

[ Braamfontein Cemetery ] [ Brixton Cemetery ] [ East Rand and Elsewhere ]
[ Anzac Memorial in Brakpan ] [ Casualty List ] [ Milner Park Graveyard ]

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. It appears to be based on “The Report of the Martial Law Inquiry Judicial Committee”. 133 Soldiers, 86 policemen, 45 revolutionaries, 73 suspected revolutionaries and 197 civilians were wounded.

In June 2020 I did a lot of research into death notices of people who died in March 1922 and Rand Revolt casualties came flooding through, so much so that they do not tally with the figures below. At the moment I have most posted on the Casualty List that list shows 180 known casualties as at 27/08/2020

  Killed/Died of wounds Wounded Total
Military 43 133 176
Police 29 86 115
“Revolutionaries” 11 45 56
“Suspected Revolutionaries” 28 73 101
Innocent civilians 42 197 239
Total 153 534 687

There are quite a few Rand Revolt remnants still around, the Trades Hall in Johannesburg is still standing (2012), 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.

Rand Revolt Commemorative Plaque at Fordsburg Square (1024×799)

More information on the tank may be found at the South African Military History Society website.

The old Trades Hall in Johannesburg still exists, although I doubt if anybody even realises the significance of the building.

Former Trades Hall in Johannesburg (2012 image)

Municipal Toilets in Fordsburg

The Police casualties are listed on the Police Memorial in Pretoria on Panel Y4, however, it appears to be somewhat less than the reality (27 casualties) whereas the memorial in Johannesburg Central Police Station lists 35.

Plaque Y4 at the Police Memorial in Pretoria

Memorial Plaque at Johannesburg Central Police Station

DRW © 2007-2021. Updated 11/07/2011. Edited and added new images 02/05/2012. Moved to Blog 08/05/2014. Edited 11/02/2018, 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. Moved to Musings 17/02/2021