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PPretoria Central is unmistakable as it sits on the outskirts of the city, like a constant lingering reminder of South Africa’s darker years.

Now known as Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre, the very rich history of Pretoria Central dates back to 1902 and after more than 100 years, its doors are still open to local visitors, travellers and prisoners.

A museum

For many years Pretoria Central was not only the first place that political prisoners were brought to, but often the last as well. Over the apartheid years a staggering 135 purely political prisoners were hung there for perceived crimes.

The gallows is now a museum in honour of the lives that were taken away there. The prisoner’s names are on the walls, and the ropes have been rehung over the painted wooden trap door. Tours take you up the 52 steps which the prisoners had to climb in order to reach the hanging platform, each one numbered so that you can get a feel for exactly what their last moments were like.

Did You Know?
NNelson Mandela was held at Pretoria Central Prison twice during his incarceration, both times he was awaiting trial.

AA hard locked correctional centre

The rest of the prison is still a functioning correctional centre. There is a C Max section for dangerous criminals, and has had a number of highly volatile people pass through it over the years. Up until his release, C-Max was the home of “Prime Evil”, the apartheid killer cop Eugene de Kock. It can hold between 300 and 500 inmates, although currently it is closed for renovations.

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