The President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

The President Brand Cemetery is disturbing in many ways: there is a memorial to the women and children who died in the Anglo-Boer War; there are graves of young men who died, both in combat and from disease; gravestones had been broken and damaged; crosses have been stolen; and it is ill-kept. Yet this is a major cemetery for war dead, and past Presidents of South Africa.

The unweeded entrance to President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

The unweeded entrance to President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

The President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

The President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

The dead from the Anglo-Boer War are buried in the cemetery: in one corner there are Canadian graves, including those of Sergeant Albert Beattie,  Trooper W J C Brown, and Private Harry Forrest, but there are also the graves of Australians, British, and South African soldiers.

Canadian graves in President Brand Cemetery

Canadian graves in President Brand Cemetery

Gravestones are broken.

The cemetery is unkempt – just rough ground and coarse grass – apart from the roses around the Anglo-Boer War Memorial, quite unlike the WWII cemeteries in northern France which I visited in September 2015.

President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

British cemetery at La Delivrande, Douvres

British cemetery at La Delivrande, Douvres

The Netherlands Military Attaché, Lt Nix, died at Sannas Pos; General de Wet was there. But disease killed many more than those who died in action.

The main memorial is surrounded by roses, but look at the tools abandoned at the site.

Anglo-Boer War Memorial, President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

Anglo-Boer War Memorial, President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

Deaths in concentration camps are remembered.

'Mothers & other sacrificial offerings over 16 years)'

‘Mothers & other sacrificial offerings over 16 years)’

And this unkempt, seemingly forgotten site is where many of South Africa’s Presidents are buried – what a shaming place it is, in so many ways.

President's Acre, President Brand Cemetery, Bloemfontein

The grave of President Brand

The grave of President Brand

The grave of President Diederichs

The grave of President Diederichs

The grave of President Swart

The grave of President Swart

The grave of President Vorster