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Burger Street Jail, Pietermaritzburg, Natal Midlands

Burger Street Jail, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-NatalThe Burger Street Jail was built in the middle of Pietermaritzburg in 1862 by the British to replace the original prison built by the Voortrekkers. It started off as a medium security prison to house about 1800 prisoners, mostly awaiting trial. The prison has played a sometimes infamous role throughout South Africa’s chequered history until it was finally closed in 1989.

The British jailed the mutineers from the Inniskilling Fusiliers here in 1887. King Dinizulu was jailed here from 1907 to 1909 during the Bambatha Uprising and a number of anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned here.

The E Block was first to be constructed and is one of the oldest buildings in Pietermaritzburg, followed by the Execution Block in 1934 which houses a number of execution gallows as well as a torture room. Most of the anti-apartheid activists spent their time in the execution block so that they would not be able to influence the other prisoners.

The jail was taken over by a Christian group called Project Gateway in 1992 with the aim to empower and uplift the local community and to provide emergency relief when needed as well as occupational and literacy training.

There is a craft shop where products made on the premises are sold as well as a coffee shop. Visitors are welcome. Guided tours can be booked – the fee is R20 per person.

The jail is open from 8am to 4pm on weekdays.

Tel: 033 845 0400.

More info on the town of Pietermaritzburg More info on the Natal Midlands area

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