KwaMuhle Museum

KwaMuhle Museum commemorates the struggle for dignity by ordinary people during apartheid. Constructed in 1927, this building was the office of the notorious Department of Native Affairs, which administered policies that discriminated against black South Africans and enforced laws of racial segregation. The Department of Native Affairs was responsible for documenting all African workers in Durban, and issued the hated passbook (or “dompas”) that controlled an African person’s ability to work. Applications were processed at KwaMuhle and the process was degrading and humiliating for those subjected to it. As a result these offices were frequently the site of protests, and the building was selected as a target for bombing by Umkhonto weSizwe in 1961. A small group of ANC guerrillas led by Billy Nair were trained in bomb-making by Harold Strachan and detonated an explosive device at KwaMuhle on 16 December 1961. The former apartheid institution now houses displays that provide an insight into the way a majority of South Africans were treated as “second class citizens” until 1994. The misery and absurdity forced upon African people through legislation such as the pass laws, influx control, forced removals and the beerhall system are portrayed and explained. A permanent exhibition of photographs documents the history of Cato Manor, an area of informal settlement behind the Berea from which residents were forcibly removed during the 1960s. In addition to the permanent exhibits, gallery space for displays and temporary exhibitions reflect the constant process of transformation in South African society.


Address: 130 Bram Fischer Rd
GPS Points: -29.85285, 31.02463
Site Contact Details: Steven Kotze
Durban Local History Museums
031 311 2239

Image Gallery