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Constitution Hill Virtual Cache

Hidden : 03/21/2018
2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   virtual (virtual)

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Geocache Description:

Where in the world?

To log this cache you will have to visit Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa and submit the answers to the questions at the bottom of this listing.

Constitution Hill is open 9am to 5pm daily.

Entrance is free unless you want to take one of the many guided tours on offer.

Prepare for your visit by downloading the official Constitution Hill Guide. You will not be allowed into the Constitutional Court Chamber on days when the court is in session. Check the dates of forthcoming hearings and plan around it.

About Constitution Hill

Text sourced from the Constitution Hill website.

Constitution Hill is a living museum that tells the story of South Africa’s journey to democracy. The site is a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past and, today, is home to the country’s Constitutional Court, which endorses the rights of all citizens.

There is perhaps no other site of incarceration in South Africa that imprisoned the sheer number of world-renowned men and women as those held within the walls of the Old Fort, the Women's Jail and Number Four. Nelson Mandela. Mahatma Gandhi. Joe Slovo. Albertina Sisulu. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Fatima Meer. They all served time here. But the precinct also confined tens of thousands of ordinary people during its 100-year history: men and women of all races, creeds, ages and political agendas; the indigenous and the immigrant; the everyman and the elite. In this way, the history of every South African lives at Constitution Hill.

Constitution Hill through time

Constitution Hill is almost as old as the city of Johannesburg. As the decades went by, the prisons at Constitution Hill became established sites of incarceration, along with the attendant issues of overcrowding, poor sanitation and disease. These problems were exacerbated with the advent of apartheid under the Nationalist government in 1948, and the burgeoning number of people arrested for both petty and severe apartheid laws.

Prison numbers continued to escalate into the 1950s and 1960s, with the volume of political prisoners increasing with each significant political campaign that went against the apartheid regime. A total of 156 people, including Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, were arrested and held at the prison complex before the historic Treason Trial in 1956, and two years later, 2 000 women ­– Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Albertina Sisulu among them – were detained after protesting the pass laws. The Anti-Pass Campaign of 1960 saw additional prisoners incarcerated, and many schoolgoers below the age of 18 were arrested after the student uprisings of 1976.

On 31 January 1983, the prison doors to the Old Fort and Number Four were officially closed. Inmates at the time were transferred to the new Diepkloof prison just outside Soweto and the precinct was leased to the Prisons Department with the intention of transforming it into a prison services monument. This never materialised, however, and the site was abandoned. It quickly deteriorated, with vandals removing items of value and selling them on the city’s streets.

In 1990, conversations began around turning the precinct into a tourist attraction, although these were held in conjunction with talks about demolishing the precinct and erecting a hotel and a complex of theatres, restaurants and community facilities instead. Fortunately, the former won out, and the site began a protracted process of redevelopment.

Seminal to this was the site’s identification, in the mid-1990s, as the home of the new democratic South Africa’s Constitutional Court which, after being put out to tender and awarded, took several years to construct. As this mixed-use precinct was reimagined, it was designed to link up with the area’s surrounding streets, making the site accessible to the public and an integral part of the inner city’s rebirth at the time.

In 2002, with the building of the court under way and other areas in the process of being refurbished, the Johannesburg Development Agency appointed a dedicated team to work on the heritage, education and tourism aspects of the site. A multitude of public engagement initiatives followed, which involved the input of local residents, as well as former prisoners and warders, and which was curated into formal exhibits.

On Human Rights Day, 21 March 2004, the Constitutional Court was inaugurated, during which 27 children born in 1994, South Africa’s first year of democracy, recited the Bill of Rights in the country’s 11 official languages. The following day, with the exhibition spaces and the visitor experience finalised, Constitution Hill – a site dedicated to honouring heritage, educating the public and encouraging tourism – was opened to the public.

A site of incarceration and abuse, of neglect and vandalism, of rebirth and democracy, Constitution Hill epitomises much of the trauma and joy that South Africa and her citizens have experienced. Today, it is more important than ever that we, the citizens of South Africa, keep this place alive and relevant for current and future generations.

For the detailed timeline visit Constitution Hill Through Time.

Logging Requirements

Post a photo of yourself (no face required) or your navigation device in front of either (1) the tall wooden Courthouse entrance doors or (2) the entrance to the Constitutional Court Chamber inside the building, and

Send the answers to any 3 of these questions:

1. Just inside the entrance to the Old Fort (Waypoint 02), looking at the Orientation Map - what exhibition can be seen at 1e?

2. Directly opposite the Courthouse Entrance - what word is written on the rim of the cauldron where the Flame of Democracy is burning?

3. To the right of the Courthouse Entrance is a bronze sculpture titled "History". Who funded the creation of the sculpture?

4. Upon entering the Courthouse - what is the phrase lit up in neon letters high-up on the wall in front of you to the right?

Remember to send your answers to or via Message Centre. Logs without answers will be removed.

Virtual Reward - 2017/2018

This Virtual Cache is part of a limited release of Virtuals created between August 24, 2017 and August 24, 2018. Only 4,000 cache owners were given the opportunity to hide a Virtual Cache. Learn more about Virtual Rewards on the Geocaching Blog.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)