6 July 2014

South Africa: Remains of WW1 Soldier Reburied in Delville Wood Memorial

-Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Sunday expected to conclude his working visit to France which saw the mortal remains of a South African who died during World War I in that country being reburied.

The Deputy President participated in the re-interment of the mortal remains of Private Myengwa Beleza on Saturday. He was one of the first South Africans and a member of the African Native Labour Corps to perish during World War I in France.

The re-interment ceremony took place against the background of the 98th commemoration of the battle of Delville Wood in France during World War I in which a number of South African soldiers perished.

Due to segregation at the time, black South Africans who had perished during the war were buried separately in different civilian cemeteries across France, while their white counterparts were interred at the Delville Wood Memorial.

The reburial ceremony, which was organised by the South African Embassy in France, witnessed the exhumation of the mortal remains of Private Beleza from the civilian cemetery of Seine-Maritime near Le Havre for reburial at Delville Wood Memorial to honour all South Africans, black and white who paid with their lives during World War I.

"The re-interment process is part is of government efforts to restore the dignity particularly of those black South Africans who made an immense contribution towards world peace," the Deputy President's spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said.

Following the reburial ceremony, Deputy President Ramaphosa laid a wreath at the French Memorial.

The Deputy President, who arrived in Paris on Saturday, was accompanied by his spouse Dr Tshepo Motsepe.

He was also accompanied by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nomaindia Mfeketo, Ambassador Dolana Msimang and senior government officials.

Deputy President Ramaphosa will later today depart France to lead a government delegation on a working visit to Sri Lanka.

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