VEREENIGING. – If the 74 deceased soldiers buried in the Garden of Remembrance at Maccauvlei Golf Course could know what vandals did to their last resting place, they would surely turn in their graves!
The cast-iron gravestones at the grave site were recently removed or broken by thugs and at many graves a heap of broken rocks was all that remained of this once neatly kept graveyard.
According to Mr Humphries Jooste, well-known Vaal Triangle architect with a longstanding interest in this historical site, it is suspected that vandals removed the cast-iron gravestones to sell as scrap metal.
“The thieves will probably sell them for a total of as little as R200, not realising that in historical and sentimental value, they are priceless,” says Jooste.
The soldiers whose remains have been buried in the Garden of Remembrance came from all over the world to fight in the Anglo Boer War.
They served, amongst others, with the Royal Engineers, the Kings Royal Rifles, the Queens own Calvary, the Wales Borderers, the New Zealand Mounties, the Gordon Highlanders and the Norfolk Regiment.
They were killed between 1900 and 1902, and were all buried in isolated graves at places where they saw action in the Vaal Triangle district. Many of them were actually still boys of around 18.
In 1961, the 1820 Settlers organisation decided to collect the remains from these small groups of graves, situated at Viljoensdrift, Engelbrechts Drift, Klip River, Maccauvlei, Meyerton and Vereeniging, and established a single military cemetery at Maccauvlei next to the golf course, where the deceased apparently found peace, until it was disturbed by modern day grave robbers.
Jooste requests all scrap metal companies to be on the lookout for the gravestones. He personally offers a reward for the return of the gravestones.
Anyone with information can contact him on 083 653 1704.