Churchill’s plaque goes missing in Durban

The plaque outside the Durban Post Office, commemorating the speech given by the former British prime minister Winston Churchill when he was a war correspondent in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal has gone missing.

Owner of Durban Walking Tours Alison Chadwick said she was in central Durban recently and noticed the plaque had gone.

“I was in town on personal business, but I like to check on buildings because of my tours and I noticed that the plaque was missing. Due to lockdown, I had not been past that way for a long time. It was shocking to see,” said Chadwick.

The Independent on Saturday went to the post office to check on the commemoration plaque, situated behind a spiked fence and bushes. The metal top half of the plaque was missing, but the inscription slab below is still in place.

There was rubbish around the plaque, as well as blankets indicating someone may be sleeping there.

President of the South African National Society (SANS), Robert King, said: “This was a part of Durban history and is very sad for Durban and South Africa.”

He added that thefts such as this, to be sold as scrap metal, had an impact on memorials across the city. He said in one theft, valuable stained glass windows had been taken from a church for their lead content “which only makes up a minuscule portion of that window”.

SANS promotes South African culture and heritage.

The commemoration plaque depicted the former British prime minister’s speech on the steps of the Durban Town Hall (which later became the Durban Post Office) in 1899 after the 25-year-old war correspondent’s infamous escape from the Boers in the second Anglo-Boer War.

eThekwini Municipality did not respond to a request for comment on the missing plaque.