KwaMuhle Museum is housed in the former premises of Durban’s notorious Native Affairs Department. The Municipal Native Affairs Department was established in 1916, with John Sydney Marwick as its first manager. Marwick was given the name ‘uMuhle’ because he successfully repatriated about seven thousand Zulus back to Zululand prior to the onset of the South African War (1899-1902). In 1922 he resigned from the municipal Native Affairs Department but continued to play a prominent role in the lives of indigenous South Africans.
The Municipal Native Affairs Department played a central role in the lives of Africans in Durban. Medical examinations, passbooks, the paying of fines and rickshaw licences, and the provision of housing and accommodation were all conducted from this department.