PMB / MIDLANDS
Pietermaritzburg, the province’s capital city has been visited by the likes of Gandhi, Mandela and Queen Victoria – it’s a contemporary African city that speaks of Zulu, Boer, British and Indian influences. Take some time to explore the region’s rich heritage on a walk through the city’s historical centre and enjoy the architecture and history of the town. One of the highlights of the town is the City Hall, built in 1893.
Journey along the Freedom Route, initiated in 2007 to promote freedom related struggles – start at the Old Prison, which dates back to Voortrekker times. It has more than 150 years of history from colonialism and apartheid, to the liberation struggle and the dawn of South Africa’s democracy – and now home to Project Gateway a community development initiative. The site was commissioned in 1862, with the Monument Block being the first structure built on the site. Other buildings, which were constructed later, include the gallows, ‘whites only’ section and hospital.
The suffering of many people from the late 1860s through to the late 1980s is depicted in The Old Prison buildings – the National Monument building, and the isolation cells are a ‘must see’ to give an idea of the torture and horror of imprisonment. Many well-known freedom fighters were held in this prison during the struggles in South Africa, including Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. Other Freedom Route sites include the Pietermaritzburg Station, the Gandhi Statue and the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, amongst others.
The Nelson Mandela Capture Site commemorates the day, 5 August 1962, when Nelson Mandela was arrested outside Howick. He had been travelling disguised as the chauffer of the car he was driving when he was apprehended by the Apartheid police, who had been searching for him for 17-odd months. This was a significant day in South Africa’s history as during his incarceration, Nelson Mandela made great strides in bringing the inequalities and unfair treatment of the Apartheid era to the consciousness of South Africans and the world. In addition to being South Africa’s first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela is acclaimed for his efforts to establish racial, social and political equality in a country that had been ravaged by the Apartheid.