Constitution Hill, Johannesburg

The hill was formerly the site of a fort which was later used as a prison. The Old Fort Prison complex is known as Number Four. The original prison was built to house white male prisoners in 1892. The Old Fort was built around this prison by Paul Kruger from 1896 to 1899 to protect the South African Republic from the threat of British invasion. Later, Boer military leaders of the Anglo-Boer War were imprisoned here by the British[citation needed].

The Old Fort prison was later extended to include "native" cells, called Section 4 and Section 5, and, in 1907, a women's section was added. An awaiting-trial block was constructed in the 1920s. Both political activists opposed to apartheid and common criminals were held at the prison. Mahatma Gandhiwas imprisoned here in 1906, and striking white mineworkers in 1907, 1913 and 1922.

Under the apartheid government, only whites were held in the Old Fort itself, except for Nelson Mandela, who was given a bed in the hospital section when he was as an awaiting-trial prisoner in 1962 prior to the Rivonia TrialJoe SlovoBram FischerAlbert Luthuli and Robert Sobukwe were also inmates.

The site housed prisoners until 1983, when it was closed.

Orientation Map of the Constitution Hill.










1. Number 4 / 5

2. The Old Fort

3. The Women´s Jail

4. Awaiting Trial Block

5. Great African Steps

View from the Visitor Centre.

View from the Visitor Centre.


Last update: 08.07.2017