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The South African Timeline

24 February 1883 – ‘The Army of Three’ arrived in Cape Town on the Warwick Castle, to lay the foundations of work in South Africa.  They were young Majors Francis and Rose Simmonds, and Lieutenant Alice Teager.

Major Rose Simmonds

4 March 1883 – The first meeting is held in the Drill Hall in Loop Street.  As it is today, all were welcome irrespective of colour or creed.

1884 – Alice Teager opens the first Rescue Home for girls in Port Elizabeth.  This was before official social work came into being in the country.

1885 – Colonel Thurman was appointed to take over operations in South Africa.  Port Elizabeth becomes the official headquarters of the organisation.  In addition to the slow-moving ox wagons, Salvation Riders were introduced, with horses providing more nimble transport to reach many more communities.

Colonel Thurman

Mid 1885: Commissioner George Scott Railton begins his Salvationist work in Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and Zululand.

1886 – The Army arrives in the newly formed Johannesburg, a rough shanty town.  Soon after, the Pretoria Corps was established, with work spreading to Barberton in 1887.

1891 – Joel Mbambo Matunjwa was the first Zulu to become a Christian.  He went on to become a legendary figure in Army history, bringing hundreds of his people to Christianity.  The Mashonaland expedition was led by Staff-Captain John Pascoe.

1900 – A precedent for the global ministry of compassion was set in Natal, when the first Army Red Shield hut was erected on a battlefield at the Estcourt camp.

1904 – Port Elizabeth opens a Night Shelter and Food Depot for men.

Ref: Salvation Safari second edition October 1993. Fast forward to 2023 –
The Salvation Army is operational in eight divisions in South Africa, as well as in Eswatini, Namibia and Island of St Helena.