Lizzie van Zyl

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Lizzie van Zyl
Lizzie van Zyl
Born 1894[citation needed]
Orange Free State Republic
Died 9 May 1901 (aged 6–7)[1]
Bloemfontein, Orange Free State Republic[1]

Lizzie Van Zyl (1894 – 9 May 1901) was a child inmate of Bloemfontein concentration camp who died from typhoid fever during the Second Boer War.[1][2]

The British incarcerated her in a concentration camp following the refusal of her father, a Boer combatant, to surrender. Activist Emily Hobhouse used her death as an example of the hardships the Boer women and children faced in the British concentration camps during the war. She describes Lizzie as "a frail, weak little child in desperate need of good care", who was placed on the lowest rations and, after a month, was moved to the new hospital about 50 kilometres (31 miles) away from the concentration camp, suffering from starvation.

According to Hobhouse, she was treated harshly in the hospital. Unable to speak English, she was labelled an idiot by an English-speaking doctor and her nurses, who were unable to understand her. One day she started calling for her mother; a lady went over to comfort her, but "was brusquely interrupted by one of the nurses who told her not to interfere with the child as she was a nuisance."[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Bloemfontein". British Concentration Camps of the South African War 1900-1902. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  2. ^ van Heyningen, Elizabeth (May–June 2010). "A tool for modernisation? The Boer concentration camps of the South African War, 1900-1902". South African Journal of Science 106 (5-6). 
  3. ^ "The Concentration Camps". 21 May 1995. Retrieved 3 June 2013.