The Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum (LMLM) is housed in the Old Community Hall and in Hostel 33 in Lwandle community which is about 50km outside of Cape Town city centre.
The museum commemorates the system of migrant labour, single-sex hostels and the control of black workers through the infamous pass book- an identity document which controlled access to employment and residence in urban areas
Lwandle was established in 1958 when the previous owner of the land Mr C.P. J Van Vuuren sold the land to the South African Government. It was designed to be invisible, with hostel type accommodation for workers who mainly serviced the nearby fruit and canning industry. These hostels were meant for single men only, who were coming to work in the city for a short period of time and who would have to go back to the then ‘Home lands’ Transkei and Ciskei. According to the laws and regulations set by the apartheid government at the time, no women and children were allowed on the hostels; as a result the hostels of Lwandle were referred to by many as the ‘bachelors’ hostels’.
The museum is the first township based museum in the Western Cape and one of two museums in South Africa that speak of the issues of labour, the other being the Workers Museum in Johannesburg. Over the years the museum has received a number of awards including the Museum of the Year award from the Western Cape government in 2009 and Best Tourist Attraction award in 2008, The Western Cape Museum Service Director’s Award of Best Improvement in Cost per Visitor and the Michael M. Ames Award in Innovative Museum Anthropology, one of our board members; Prof Leslie Witz was awarded a life time achievement Award by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports, in 2018 the museum was awarded Best Museum for Social Inclusion in the Western Cape.