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 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.
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.
The main memorial is surrounded by roses, but look at the tools abandoned at the site.
Deaths in concentration camps are remembered.
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.