History

Constitution Hill was once a small prison until a Fort was built over it in 1896 to protect the Republic from the British invasion.

Boer military leaders of the Anglo Boer war were at one point imprisoned at this facility but after the war it was used as a common prison again. Later cells were added for the “natives” and these were named Section 4 and 5.

In 1907 the prison saw the addition of a woman’s section with an awaiting prisoner block being added in 1920.

Political prisoners were imprisoned together with common criminals at one stage which caused much outrage from the people fighting for equal rights in the country. 

Current Update

Constitution Hill has been nominated for the 3rd LILIZELA Tourism Award for 2015. "The Lilizela Tourism Awards honour and celebrate those who make a remarkable impact on tourism in South Africa" 

People who were imprisoned at this facility

  • Mahatma Gandhi, 1906
  • Striking white mine workers 1907
  • Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Albert Luthuli and Robert Sobukwe, 1962

In 1964 the Site was declared a National Monument under the old MNC legislation and in 1983 the prison facility was closed.

Exhibitions

Number Four

This was the term commonly used to refer to the Old Fort that was used to imprison political prisoners during the apartheid era. It shows how the racial divide of apartheid caused many innocent people to be considered criminals just because they opposed the laws of separate development.

 The Mandela Cell

The visitor can watch an emotive documentary film of Mandela’s time at the Old Fort. The film includes his emotional return visit after his release from prison Robben Island after 27 years.

 The Women’s Jail

This building is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture that disguises the fact that this was a place where many women suffered for their part in the struggle against Apartheid.

 The Wall 

Visitors can leave a message alongside the those of famous people such as Nelson Mandela on the wall that runs along the Constitution Square and can be found at the base of the ramparts of the Old Fort. Messages of people from all over the world can be found here.

 In The Shade Of The Constitution

In 2003 the first road trip called, "We the people" was done, collecting photographs of people and places in South Africa in the urban and the rural areas. This exhibition shows the results of this road trip. It is and impressive collection of photographs.

 Objects From The Past

A display of the objects from the prison that shows the system used to subdue the prisoners and stands as a stark reminder of the injustices of man to his fellow man. 

 The Constitutional Court

The bricks from the demolished awaiting trial block of the prison were used to build the present Constitutional court.

A visitor to this sight will have a view of Johannesburg city to the south and the northern suburbs of Houghton, Parktown and Sandton to the north.

 What to see & do

  • Attend court hearing
  • Visit the Art Gallery

Art works of the genre "Resistance Art" are on display such as work by Gerald Sekoto, William Kentridge and Cecil Skotnes.

 Temporary exhibitions and Special Events 

There is always something happening at Constitutional Hill ranging from temporary exhibitions that encompass a wide range of media, to special events that commemorate various auspicious dates in the South African Calendar. The visitor can consult the website to find out what is on offer at any given day or just go along and be surprised. 

 Visiting hours

  • Monday to Friday, 09h00 - 17h00 (last tour at 16:00)
  • Wednesday, last tour 13:00
  • Saurday, Sunday & Public Holidays, 10h00 -15:h00
  • Good Friday, Christmas Day & New Year, closed

 Admission 

Please phone or refer to their website.

 

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