South African gallows opened as national monument and museum

South African gallows opened as national monument and museumAP

South African president Jacob Zuma today opened a former death row block and gallows as a national memorial and museum.

The Gallows Museum in the Correctional Maximum Centre in Pretoria was the site where political prisoners sentenced to death for fighting apartheid were sent to be hanged .

The Pretoria Central Prison gallows were torn down after the fall of white-minority rule in 1995, so tourists and visitors will see a reconstruction alongside a museum honouring the 134 political prisoners executed on the site from 1961 to 1989.

A prison employee who had once been a death row guard helped to ensure the reconstruction details at the new museum are correct, even down to the thickness of the seven rope nooses hanging from iron loops over a trap door, according to the Daily Mail.

South African gallows opened as national monument and museumAP

He also revealed that anti-apartheid prisoners were calm as they met their fate, sometimes singing anti-apartheid songs as they climbed the 52 steps to their death.

In the background are plaques honouring those political prisoners who were executed

The death row housing block was located outside the main part of Pretoria Central Prison. In the hallway leading to the gallows, signs inform visitors that 3,500 South Africans were hanged over the last century of which, it says, "130 were patriots whose only crime was fighting oppression".

The museum has been built to educate young South Africans and society to understand how freedom came about, and to honour those who died there.

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