Paul Stewart

Cell Number 5

Maximum Security Prison, Robben Island


Cell Number 5, Maximum Security Prison, Robben Island. Cape Town, South Africa.

Nelson Mandela was jailed for a total of 27 years. 17 years of his incarceration was in this particular cell before being transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in the shadow of Table Mountain at Tokia, Cape Town.

The cell measures 8 feet (2.4 m) by 7 feet (2.1 m) and initially contained only a straw mat to sleep on.

Cell No.5, Maximum Security Prison, Robben Island. South Africa.

Cell No.5. Maximum Security Prison, Robben Island. South Africa.

You can feel the oppression physically as you enter. In addition to the psychological torture this must, at times, have felt a very lonely place indeed.

Although you may not be able to grasp the size and scale of the cell itself, panoramas do make spaces look larger than they really are, I felt physically crushed. I could barely breathe while working. I was there for only a few minutes but will remember that feeling for the rest of my days.

Commission from Cape Town Tourism and later published in The Observer Magazine with words from André Brink in celebration of the 10th anniversary of his release.

YMMV but see it in 360° from this link (QuickTime only) NOT suitable for mobile and tablet devices.


Unnamed Road, Robben Island, Robben Island, 7400, South Africa
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