Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #274) - Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
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Title: Long Walk Original Manuscript (Image #274)
On 1st April we were transferred from the Newlands police station to the Fort where we found other setainees from various parts of the Transvaal. We spent several days at the Fort and were later removed to the Pretoria local prison where we were kept for the duration of the martial law. Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Bertha Mashaba and other women detainees were kept at the Central Prison in Pretoria which is a short distance from the local.
If the conditions at the Fort were poor, those at the Pretoria were unbelievable and beyond human endurance. We were sandwiched in groups of five in small cells measuring about 9 feet by 7 feet and about 9 feet in height. The cells had cement floors and ceilings and ventilation and lighting were poor. Generally speaking they were filthy, some with blood marks and obscene remarks scratched out on the walls and obviously made by non political prisoners. All of us in a cell had to use one sanitary pail which had a loose lid. The blankets and mats were old and dirty with crusts of porridge and other ugly blotches and full of vermin. The pail emitted an offensive smell which worsened as each person used it. An hour a day was allowed for exercise when we could go out and breathe freely.
The commanding officer was Colonel Snyman assisted by Lieutenant Colonel Steyn. The second day after our arrival we complained to the latter about the filthy condition of the cells as well as bugs, lice and fleas. He was abrupt and provocative, demanded that we substantiate our complaints
Extent and Medium: 1 page