South Africa to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the SS Mendi Tragedy

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
30 Oct 2007

The Departments of Arts and Culture, the Department of Defence, the Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape will co-host commemorative events to mark the 90th anniversary of the SS Mendi and Remembrance Day.

On 21 February 1917, six hundred and sixteen South Africans, who were members of the 50th Battalion of the South African Native Labour Corps, lost their lives when the ship they boarded in Cape Town, the SS Mendi, collided with the SS Darro near the Isle of Wight in the English Channel. The 616 South Africans lost their lives on their way to France to be part of the Allied Forces during the First World War (1914-1918).

The commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the SS Mendi Tragedy will take place on 10 November 2007 at the Grand Parade in Cape Town. As part of the commemoration, the SS Mendi will be docked at the Cape Town Waterfront. To kickstart the event, Minister Z Pallo Jordan and other dignitaries will officially open the SS Mendi for public viewing. Members of the public will also have an opportunity to view a permanent exhibition on the SS Mendi at the Waterfront. The visit to the SS Mendi by the dignitaries will be followed by a symbolic march of soldiers going to war from Adderley Street to the Grand Parade where formal proceedings will start at 10:15.

The annual Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying ceremony will be held on Sunday, 11 November 2007 in Adderley Street at 10:40 in honour of those who lost their lives in instances of conflict. Preceding the official Remembrance Day Ceremony the Mayor of Cape Town, Ms Helen Zille will unveil a plaque at the corner of Adderley and Darling Streets to commemorate the public observance of the 2 Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance which originated at the very spot on 2 August 1919.

Media enquiries: Mack Lewele on 082 450 5076 /012 441 3083