Africa Blog

The Ride to Half a Million Miles

Sight Seeing

  When I was lost in Johannesburg's downtown I saw the signs for Constitution Hill.   The is another area of deep history in South Africa's past.   Here is some of its history:

  "Consitution Hill Precinct in Braamforntein Johannesburg has very complex history going back to 1892 when the Old Fort was build under the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek.  Functioning as a prison,  except for the brief period of the South African War (1899-1902) when it was a military defence post,  new buildings were added to the site in the late 1900s and early 20th Century:  the so-called Natives section and isolation cells known as Sections Four and Five where black male prisoners were held,  a Women's Prison (1907), and an Awaiting Trial building (1920s).  All these buildings together were known as the Fort, a place that was notorious for its harsh treatments of prisoners:  who range from common criminals to hundreds of thousands of ordinary men and women who contravened colonial and apartheid legislation such as hut tax laws,  beer brewing laws, pass laws and the Group Areas act.  Many political prisoners were also incarcerated at the Fort.  In 1906 and 1913 Indian passive resisters (including Mahatma Gandhi) were incarcerated.  Nelson Mandela was also incarcerated here for several years after Robben Island"