Constitution Hill Tour

Constitution court images – Ekala Eco Tours

Old Fort/Constitution Hill – Constitutional Court

Constitution Hill and Old Fort Complex/Museum. Number Four Prison, awaiting trail block, Nelson Mandela cell. Tour South Africa’s Constitutional Court and Gandhi Exhibition.

Constitution Hill images – Ekala Eco Tours

Private collection and drop off – supplied as a fully guided professional tour covering en-route as may be possible from collection to drop off. As a result, not simply a point to point transfer with a driver.

Constitution Hill images – Ekala Eco Tours

Old Fort Prison and the Constitutional Court Complex

Site of greatest historical significance – not only within Johannesburg, but of all of South Africa.

Constitution Hill inside white male prison – Ekala Eco Tours

Johannesburg’s “Robben Island”

The Tour

Daily Constitution hill tours available – 7 days a week with Ekala Eco Tours.

Our tours are Private only (consequently no mixed groups). Constitution Hill is additionally included in our Johannesburg Tours.


However can be included in most local tours. Additionally is an important part of both Ekala’s Freedom Struggle route tour and then the Mahatma Gandhi Johannesburg tour.

Ekala’s Johannesburg (including Soweto) day tours are generally structured to spend time at Constitution Hill. However does depend on actual requirements/timing.


What Ekala does in such a brief tour is that we take you through Constitution Hill in about an hour. Giving our clients a full historical tour of the facility – but also include a fully guided tour through the Constitution Court.


Covering all important cases that have been through the court and those waiting to be heard.


Consequently, since you are accompanied by a guide – generally would cover more in this hour than most tourists could ever get out of the facility.


Thus does not have you wasting your valuable time wondering around with little to no understanding of the court or the facility as a whole.


However to be able to structure a tour around your requirements and time available, we need to be supplied with clear timing and collection and drop off address – hotel name. If one of the points is the airport – need full flight details.


Once we have these it will be possible to quote/advise and structure a day or multi day package around your requirements/timing.

Therefore one of the most important Historical sites in South Africa.

Constitution Hill – has witnessed it all: South Africa’s history of injustice, detention and imprisonment while witnessing democracy at work.


People that passed through the Fort complex include – Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Ahmed Kathrada, treason trialists of the late 1950s (including Nelson Mandela).


Additionally children involved in the 1976 Soweto uprising and thousands of others during the apartheid struggle.


Constitution Hill: Learn about injustices in South Africa’s turbulent past. The extraordinary transition to democracy and the process by which freedom was won and through the constitution and is now protected.


Constitution Hill – Home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court since 2004 and one of Johannesburg’s most historic sites. While the ramparts around the Old Fort offer a vantage point over Johannesburg.


Originally built by Boer President, Paul Kruger in the late nineteenth century. South Africa’s most important legacy from an apartheid history perspective.


Constitution Hill – Historical asset, encapsulating the development of the South African Constitution. Of the best known and most progressive Constitutions in the world.


A platform for passing the legacy of the country’s struggle for freedom on to future generations.


Constitution Hill – tour can include a tour through number 4 prison including the Mahatma Gandhi exhibition. A walk on the ramparts overlooking the Johannesburg CBD, tour of Nelson Mandela cell within the old fort and a visit inside the Constitution court.

Old Fort of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR)

Constitution Hill looking up stairway between court and number 4 prison

Old Fort:

Ramparts built by Paul Kruger between 1896 and 1899 to protect the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR) from the threat of invasion from the British.

Additionally used to keep an eye on the miners flocking into the village (to become Johannesburg).

Reverted to a prison after the South African war. Only white male prisoners were held in the old fort. However, Nelson Mandela who was given a bed in what was then the hospital section.

Notorious Black Males only Prison – Number 4

Number Four Prison

On arrival: During the apartheid era, police would arrive numerous times a day with prisoners. Prisoners were processed and personal details were recorded including finger prints and assigned with a number.

Searches: Prisoners would be strip searched; hosed down, summer or winter. Further had to perform the dehumanizing “tausa” for the prison warders to see items that may be hidden in their rectum.

Food: In number four, food consisted of no more than a meatless porridge of mealies (corn) and beans with a plastic like texture.

Toilets and Showers: There were only eight, eastern style toilets to be used in number four. Additionally these toilets offered no privacy and were as well in close proximity to the food area. Showers were allowed once a week but prisoners were often denied this for months.

Communal Cells: Overcrowded, dirty and badly ventilated cells lit by a small window only, hence only a part of the brutal detention conditions.

Ironically as authorities tried to break prisoners down, these communal cells became an area to build courage and discuss resistance including singing resistance songs to entertain, comfort and maintain solidarity. Accordingly used to defy the authorities.

Isolation cells – Emakhulukhuthu: Prisoners kept in the “deep dark hole” for up to 30 days. With only one hour per day outside. However, some prisoners spent many months in these cells on a diet of rice water.

Diseases: Including typhoid and enteric fever were commonplace. Overcrowding with filthy food, bedding, clothes and sanitary conditions further created conditions for diseases.

Constitution Hill images – Ekala Eco Tours

The Women’s Prison

Victorian brick building, built in 1910, held both black and white female prisoners, however in separate sections.

Vast majority of inmates were incarcerated here for pass offences or illegal beer brewing. Even more, women were striped of not only their underclothes, but additionally their dignity.

Inside Constitution Court – Ekala Eco Tours


Constitution Hill site of the old fort, built on the Braamfontein ridge by Paul Kruger in 1893 for military use. Later used as a prison.

The Fort is one of the oldest buildings in Johannesburg. The original prison was built to house white male prisoners in 1892. Boers of the Anglo-Boer War were imprisoned here by the British. However earlier, British were imprisoned here after the failed Jameson raid.

The Old Fort Prison was later extended to include “native” cells, called Section 4 and Section 5. Additionally in 1910 a women’s section was added.

The Old Fort complex is now known as Number Four. An awaiting-trial block was constructed in the 1920’s. Both political activists opposed to apartheid and common criminals were held at the prison.

Under the apartheid government, only whites were held in the Old Fort itself. Nevertheless, Nelson Mandela, was given a bed in the hospital section when he was as an awaiting-trial prisoner in 1962 prior to the Rivonia Trial.

Additionally, Mahatma Gandhi, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer, Albert Luthuli and Robert Sobukwe were imprisoned at what today is know as Constitution Hill.

Constitution Hill looking towards Hillbrow – Ekala Eco Tours

Nelson Mandela entered the prison on Constitution Hill as Lawyer, then Prisoner and subsequently as President of South Africa.

View from Constitution Hill across downtown Johannesburg

Mahatma Gandhi was the first to apply the concept of non-violent Civil disobedience in South Africa. This saw him face the hard realities of racial discrimination in South Africa.

A special exhibit/museum is included within number 4 prison around Mahatma Gandhi and his stay at the Old Fort/Constitution Hill

Prisoners where often sent to Robben island or Pretoria Central Prison after sentencing. The site housed prisoners until 1983, when it was closed.

The complex attained national heritage status after 1994. In 1995, the Constitutional Court justices began looking for a permanent location for the new Court.

Constitution Hill was chosen as a fitting location for the Constitutional Court.

Constitution Hill number 4 prison single cells– Ekala Eco Tours

The Prison Today

The prison and old fort has been transformed into a living museum, revealing individual experiences with voices, sounds and images. Thus allowing the visitor a glimpse of how punishment was inflicted, physically and mentally, and the efforts made my inmates to overcome the power of suppression and the prison conditions.

The exhibition, based on extensive research with ex prisoners, tells a story of those incarcerated there and allows the visitor a view into the apartheid system through the eyes of a black prisoner.

View videos of the experiences of former prisoners returning to the jail.

From the ramparts that surround the fort, you get an excellent view of surrounding areas, including Hillbrow and downtown Johannesburg. Additionally Braamfontein and the green suburbs of Northern Johannesburg.

Constitution Square

Large outdoor square in the heart of Constitution Hill, with its two remaining awaiting trail block stair wells as a reminder of the past.

Great African steps

Built from bricks from the demolished awaiting trial block. Walk between the legacy of the past on one side, the notorious number 4 prison and the Constitution Court on the other.

The Experience for the visitor

This prison and old fort is as important as Robben Island both for the international visitor and the South African people as a nation. “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.” extract from Nelson Mandela’s book “Long Walk to Freedom”

The Constitutional Court:

South Africa’s Highest Court.

With one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, the court justices needed a fitting site for South Africa’s constitutional court. The prison had fallen into a dilapidated state, nevertheless provided a site with rich cultural history.


The court building itself was built using bricks from the demolished awaiting-trial wing of the former prison; “taking from the past to build the future”.


The development perfectly represents inner Johannesburg city regeneration, contributing to socioeconomic upliftment. This once loathed place now stands as an historical landmark and monument to South Africa’s hard earned democracy promoting reconciliation and advancing human rights.


Transparent glass lining the wall symbolizes transparency of the court. Additionally public seating at same level as that of judges, representing the equality of the court and constitution.

Witness democracy at work – Constitutional Court.

Contemporary artworks are on permanent display in the court building that is open to the public. Furthermore the public is welcome to attend hearings in the Constitution Court.

Constitution Hill images – Ekala Eco Tours

Perfect tour options to additionally include with the Constitution Hill Tour to create a full day tour or multi day package.

Constitution Hill images – Ekala Eco Tours
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Old Fort entrance and view across Johannesburg – Ekala Eco Tours
Constitution Hill solitary cell door – Ekala Eco Tours
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Ekala Family & Guides

Ekala Family & Guides

We pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of South Africa’s history, culture and wildlife.

With our vast experience and expertise, we will, above all, ensure you leave full of memories.

Ekala will additionally endeavor to personalise your tour according to individual time as well as requirements.

Furthermore Ekala personally conducts and organise all our tours and safaris as highly experience and professional guides.

Consequently you get an enhanced understanding of South Africa’s wildlife, history and diverse cultures.

Constitution court entrance doors – Ekala Eco Tours
Constitution Hill door between sections – Ekala Eco Tours

Follow in Nelson Mandela footsteps:

Robben Island – indeed, you can visit his prison cell.

However – Johannesburg/Pretoria:

Nelson Mandela came to Johannesburg as a young man.

Additionally became an activist in Johannesburg

Entire focus of his defiance campaign – Johannesburg.

Then became a lawyer in Johannesburg.

Consequently ran his law firm (and that of Oliver Tambo) in Johannesburg.

Moreover all time spent in prison before and in addition to the Rivonia trail – in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Furthermore, after Release:

Returned to Johannesburg.

Inaugurated as President in Pretoria.

Hence, while President – office in Pretoria.

While President – main residence in Pretoria.

Further, after retiring (as president) still had an office – in Johannesburg.

Actually still today – his office – now the Nelson Mandela center of memory - in Johannesburg.

Furthermore, spent the last 23 years of his life in Johannesburg (apart from a limited amount of time in Qunu).

Hospital while ill – Pretoria.

Passed away in Johannesburg.

Accordingly if you wish to WALK  in the footsteps of the Great Man and to truly experience his life, it needs to be in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Constitution Hill looking towards Hillbrow Johannesburg


No prices on our website due to the unique, individual and specialised requirements for each tour we supply.

Ekala structure our tours/safari's around our client’s individual requirements.

If time is limited:

We indeed structure the tour from arrival to departure – including airport collection and drop off.

Accordingly using all time available as a fully guided professional tour.

In contrast, not simply a point to point mixed group drive around.

As a result, tour quote based on your specific requirements.

Constitution court entrance doors – Ekala Eco Tours

Our tours are non-invasive.

Cultural tours/township tours as Soweto/Alexandra:

We do NOT go into private houses.

Or invade the township resident's privacy in any way.

Old Fort, Constitution Hill – Ekala Eco Tours