Nelson Mandela and Franschhoek: Visit the Drakenstein Correctional Centre

The Drakenstein Correctional Centre. Photo courtesy of Lee Howard

The Drakenstein Correctional Centre, just outside Franschhoek, is where former President Nelson Mandela walked out a free man in 1990, after spending 27 years behind bars.

The entrance to the correctional centre, marked by a bronze statue of Mandela with his fist aloft, has become a tourist spot, as has the house in which he spent the last few months of his time in prison.

Most of Mandela’s incarceration was spent on Robben Island, from 1964 until he was transferred to Pollsmoor prison in 1982. In 1998 he was sent to Victor Verster Prison, now named the Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

He spent the last 14 months of his prison sentence in a warder’s cottage on the prison grounds, and was released on 11 February 1990.

In 2010 the National Heritage Council named the house a heritage site because it is an iconic landmark, which narrates the South African history of the liberation struggle.

On the day of his release, thousands of people stood at the gate to catch sight of Mandela. He walked out of the prison hand-in-hand with his then wife, Winnie.

Private tours of the cottage can be arranged by calling the Drakenstein Correctional Centre on +27 (0)21 864 8000.

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