Black South African who fought in first world war finally given military burial in France

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 9:39pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 9:39pm


A black South African soldier who died nearly a century ago during the first world war has been reburied alongside 600 of his white compatriots at the South African war memorial in northern France.

Private Myengwa Beleza was one of the first black South African soldiers to be killed in France during the 1914-1918 war.

He was among some 25,000 other black South Africans who had volunteered to serve as part of the Native Labour Corps.

Beleza died on November 27, 1916 and was buried in a civilian cemetery in the port city of Le Havre as South Africa's white minority government did not allow black soldiers to be buried at the memorial.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was among some 250 people who attended the ceremony on Sunday at the Delville Wood memorial near the scene of a first world war battle in which many South African soldiers perished.

Beleza becomes the first black to be buried at the memorial after his remains were exhumed on June 4.