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Number Four: permanent exhibitions

Life in a Cell

Number Four is considered the birthplace of some of South Africa’s most prolific prison gangs and an exhibit has been established to depict how prison life was organised according to this rigid hierarchy. The gangs dictated everything, from basic privileges such as food rations and shower usage, to sleeping arrangements within the cells.

Who is a Criminal?

This exhibition explores the systems that criminalised inmates at Constitution Hill, begging the question: Who is a criminal? Were those who were incarcerated worthy of their sentence? Read their stories and decide for yourself.

Prisoner of Conscience

Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned on four occasions during his time in South Africa, including a period of time at Constitution Hill. The Prisoner of Conscience exhibition commemorates this and touches on his experiences while in prison, many of which shaped his future political and spiritual beliefs.

Power and Punishment

Prisoners at Constitution Hill were often victims of brutal abuse at the hands of their warders. The various instruments used, including an original flogging frame, are on display here, and a video shows ex-prisoners reliving their experiences. This exhibit pre-empts the isolation cells at Number Four, the darkest part of this dark place.

Resistance and Resilience

Despite the severity of their living conditions, the men at Number Four found different ways to cope with their imprisonment. In between the work day ending at 4pm and the lights being turned off at 8pm, the men found various ways to occupy themselves. Pay careful attention to the creative lengths the men went to with the little that they had.