Old Prison closed to tourists

2007-11-19 00:00

Artifacts inside the building also need to be protected, Mnculwane said.

He protested that the article published by The Witness on the dirty state of the Old Prison Block recently presented the wrong perception of Project Gateway and that it was published when he and Di Milford, the general manager, were away sourcing funds in London.

When The Witness accompanied Mnculwane and a team from Project Gateway on a visit to the Old Prison Block, they said that the animal faeces, which were still visible in the building, are those of feral cats who come in to catch the pigeons. “We are people-centred, so any money we have must be made available to the poor who need it before we can spend money on renovations,” Milford said.

Another problem they faced is finding volunteer labour as money made available for renovations does not include labour costs. Mnculwane said that overseas volunteers were recruited to come on work party tours because South Africans want to be paid. “For example, our toilets were renovated by a group of girls from the UK,” he said.

The original cell block is now a National Monument. It was built in 1862 and housed both male and female prisoners, including Mahatma Gandhi and King Dinizulu.

Tours of the project, which do not include a visit to the interior of the Old Prison Block, are available during the week at R20 per person.

Project Gateway is currently turning the old prison toilet and shower block into a fashion school for 22 orphans and vulnerable children to help them learn fashion design.

stephs@witness.co.za

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