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WWhile reading about history is a great way to learn about our past, walking the path of history brings the information to life. When you enter the Palace of Justice you hear the ghosts and echoes of a turbulent past, which allows you to understand where we have come from and where we are headed.
Facing the northern façade of Church Square in Pretoria, the Palace of Justice tells a remarkable story of an unswerving anti-apartheid movement, the birth of the Freedom Charter as well as one of the world’s most iconic speeches to date.
MMore than 50 years ago, Nelson Mandela gave one of the most impassioned speeches of the 20th century while standing in the dock and staring death in the face during the Rivonia Treason Trial.
Palace of Justice
FFourteen steps below the famous dock and in the depths of the Palace of Justice is an austere corridor leading to the holding cells where Madiba and his fellow accused were detained.
Chief among them is a 5m x 7m room with a bare concrete floor, one narrow barred window, a wide ventilation shaft against one wall, and a heavy door with a turn handle and peephole. Coated in graffiti by generations of political prisoners, the musty, peeling walls bear messages of protest as well as the preamble to the Freedom Charter – a set of principles that laid the basis of the democratic dispensation which South Africans enjoy today.
"There comes a time in the life of any nation where only two choices remain - whether to submit or fight," reads one of the messages. Another states: "My dream is to be free, one love."
Next to a drawing of a hangman's noose is a vehement proclamation: "Detention or no detention, imprisonment or no imprisonment, death or no death, the struggle shall continue to re-vindicate the right of our people. Mayibuye I Africa. Amandla."
In addition to the messages left behind, the walls carry a list of prisoners who have come through the spartan cell, including Tokyo Sexwale, Mosiuoa Lekota and Saths Cooper.
DDating back to 1897, it’s no surprise the Palace of Justice is trove of South Africa’s colourful past. Four years after the then-President of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger, laid the foundation stone, the palace – worth £115 260 – was open for business. However, shortly before it was used as the Transvaal Supreme Court, the incomplete palace was taken over by military authorities and turned into a hospital (known as Irish Hospital) for British troops during the Anglo-Boer (South African) War.
Since then, the building has seen many historically significant trials enter its doors.
DDesigned by Dutch architect Sytze Wierda and built by John Munro, the palace is a monument to colonial opulence with an eclectic Wilhelmines style and Italianate influences.
The quaint interior boasts British floor tiles, a Dutch stained-glass ceiling, ornate sconce lamps, carved dark wood dais for the judge and a jury box with red leather seats that have been vacant since the South African jury system was abolished in 1969.
Today, the Palace of Justice is used as the headquarters of the Gauteng High Court. At the forefront of legal transformation and excellence, the Gauteng High Court has hosted a number of epoch-making cases, such as Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, the ruling of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as well as a scathing judgment against former president Jacob Zuma.
The music culture in South Africa is made up of diverse genres, from jazz, hip hop, kwaito and gospel to pop and alternative rock.
From soft red tea leaves and fermented milk to home-made beers and pub-favoured shooters, these are some of South Africa’s finest drinks.
The first shebeens in South Africa were local bars and taverns where mostly working-class urban males could unwind, socialise, and escape the oppression of life during the Apartheid era.
Gumboot dancing was originally a means of communication amongst miners who were forbidden from talking to one another.
Pretoria Central Prison is arguably the most infamous prison where Mandela was held before he was transferred to Robben Island.
Emirates Airline Park played a significant role in South African sporting history, after hosting the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is committed to preserving the work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Regina Mundi Church is a struggle landmark and a tourist attraction that continues to serve the community.
Soak up Soweto’s rich cultural atmosphere at an important South African tourist destination - Sakhumzi Restaurant.
Thousands gathered to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy outside his Houghton home after his passing in December 2013.
Chancellor House – Where Mandela & Tambo Attorneys once flourished.
National Archives and Records Service of South Africa - the Reading Room is open for public use and is free of charge.
The Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Facility gallows is now a museum. It memorialises the 3500 souls who lost their lives here.
Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court houses the statue of Nelson Mandela, the "Shadow Boxer”.
The Market Theatre has played and continues to play a pivotal role in South Africa’s story.
UNISA is one of the biggest and oldest universities in South Africa with over 300 000 students and 4000 teaching staff.
The FNB Stadium continues to be the preferred platform of choice for the Soweto Derby featuring Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
The Mandela House in Vilakazi Street, Soweto, is now a small but interesting museum where you can learn more about Nelson Mandela's life.
St Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg is significant in taking a firm stand against apartheid.
Dr. A.B. Xuma’s house in Sophiatown tells the story of a way of life during apartheid.
Take a trip through Madibaville and experience the Madiba fever for yourself.
Flat 13 Kholvad House remains one of Johannesburg’s most treasured heritage gems.
Have you heard of Agritourism? This is a category of tourism that provides visitors the opportunity to experience everyday life on working farms, ranches, wineries and agricultural industries.