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TToday the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional is still a functional gaol with a C-Max section. The gallows, however, are now a museum where you can learn more about the history of this place and about the history of South Africa. .
The walls are lined with the names of the prisoners and the nooses hanging from the ceiling add an air of sadness, which reminds us just how far we have come as a nation.
IIn 1996 the gallows was dismantled after the death sentence was discontinued in South Africa. It was decided, however, to restore it as a museum and a heritage site in honour of those who lost their lives there. The 52 steps which the prisoners had to climb accompanied by the wardens are numbered to give you an idea of just how the seconds ticked by for those ascending them.
Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility
TThe gallows at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility are the only place in the country where executions took place. Constitution Hill and its gaol held many a prisoner including Nelson Mandela, twice, but no executions were carried out since 1902. One very famous person who was hung at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional was Daisy De Melker, who was accused of killing two husbands and a son with poison.
Nelson Mandela’s first act when he created the constitutional court was to abolish the death penalty. He himself had been sentenced to death, which would have been carried out at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Facility had he not been given a reprieve due to international pressure.
His famous quote while facing the death penalty in 1964 still echoes today, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”
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Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill remembers the horrors of the past, and yet embraces the promises of the future, marrying them with the reality of the present.
The next time you decide to try something new and different, why not go for a memorable township experience in the kasi (township) of all kasis: Alexandra.
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