Constitutional Court

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The Constitution Hill development focuses on South Africa’s new Constitutional Court, built within the ramparts of the Old Fort, which dates from 1892 and was once a notorious prison, where many of the country’s high-profile political activists, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, were held. Ruling on constitutional and human-rights matters, the court itself is a very real symbol of the changing South Africa: a lekgotla (place of gathering) rising from the ashes of one of the city’s most poignant apartheid-system monuments, with cases heard in all 11 official languages. The modern structure incorporates sections of the old prison walls, plus large windows that allow visitors to watch the proceedings. As well as gaining access to the court, vis­itors can take a tour that includes the Awaiting Trial Block, which held the 156 treason trial lists of 1956; the notorious Number Four section, which held black male prisoners; and the Women’s Gaol, where female offenders (whose offence was often simply failing to produce an identity card) were incarcerated.