home Advisories Commemorating the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi

Commemorating the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi

Change first sentence to read: A ceremony to commemorate the SS Mendi disaster will be attended by the Department of Defence & Military Veterans, High Commissioners, South African National Defence Force, military veterans’, Military Attaches/Advisors and local school children The ceremony will take place at GaMothakga Resort – Atteridgeville, on the 26 February 2017 at 10:00.

Today marks exactly a century since the ship carrying hundreds of black South African troops being deployed to France to assist the allies during World War One sank in the English Channel. More than 600 men drowned as the SS Mendi sank in less than half an hour, most of the bodies never to be found.

On January 16, 1917 the Mendi troopship sailed from Cape Town enroute to La-Havre in France carrying the last 800 contingent of the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC). On the 21 January, another ship SS Darro, travelling at full speed and emitting no warning signals, rammed into the SS Mendi which sank in 20 minutes killing 649 South Africans.

According to the Military Veterans’ Act, a military veteran is a South African who rendered military service to any of the military organisations, which were involved in all sides of South African liberation war including the Union Defence Force before 1961.

In line with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the Department of Military Veterans recognizes the sacrifices of military veterans the world over, in ensuring peace, and friendship amongst the peoples of the world.


Details of the commemoration event

  • Date: 26 February 2017
  • Venue: GaMothakga Resort– Atteridgeville (Pta)
  • Time: 10h00


Mr Mbulelo Musi
Department Spokesperson
Cell: 082 338 3890


Ms Lebogang Mothapa
Media Relations
076 865 7188

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