Heritage Blog 4



King Dinizulu

King Dinizulu, son of King Cetshwayo was imprisoned twice in Pietermaritzburg – once in 1888, before his exile to St Helena, and again in 1907 for his complicity in the Bambatha Rebellion.


Kasturba Gandhi

The wife of Mahandas Gandhi, she joined the struggle and has worked alongside Mahatma when he was involved in the agitation to improve working conditions for Indians in South Africa.  She was arrested in September 1913 and was sentenced for three months imprisonment at hard labour.


Harry Gwala [1920 – 1995]

Harry Themba Gwala was nicknamed ‘The Lion of the Midlands’ and he grew up in Pietermaritzburg.  He was a politician as well as a teacher.  In 1960 after he was dismissed from Edendale hospital recruiting hospital staff to be SACTU members.  Harry Gwala worked underground until he was arrested in 1994 for recruiting for Umkhonto WesiZwe and was sent at Robben Island for 8 years.  He was released in 1972, but was only restricted to Pietermaritzburg.  He was arrested for the second time in 1975 and sentenced to life imprisonment.  In 1980, he had a motor neuron disease that led to his release in 1988.  On the occasion of the ANC’s 80th Anniversary, he was awarded the Isitwalandwe – the highest honour bestowed by ANC members for dedication, service and selfless commitment.  In 1994, he was nominated as a Provincial member of the KwaZulu Natal Legislature and also served as Chief ANC Whip.


Archie Gumede [1914 – 1998]

Archie Gumede, the son of Lillian and Josiah Gumede worked as a health assistant and sanitary inspector.  He joined the ANC in 1949 and was the Pietermaritzburg assistant branch secretary.  He was arrested in 1956 for treason charges and taken to  Johannesburg but charges against him were withdrawn.  Archie participated in the ANC campaigns against pass laws to women, Bantu Education etc.  He returned to PMB to do his ANC work until the state of emergency following the Sharpeville shootings where he was detained.  He did legal studies with UNISA and established his own legal practice in Pinetown.  In 1966, his emphysema worsened forcing him to attend parliamentary sittings irregularly.  He passed away in 1998 at St Aidan’s Mission Hospital in Durban.


Peter Brown

Peter was a white South African liberal. Friend of Alan Paton’s. Peter was imprisoned in PMB jail for 3 months after the Sharpeville shootings.


Derick R. C. Marsh

Derick  Marsh wrote his first book The Recurring Miracle, in this room, while imprisoned here during the 1960 state of emergency. He has lived in Australia since 1961 and worked first at Sydney University becoming a Professor of English at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, and at the University of Western Australia, in Perth. He has written three other books on Shakespearean topics and was for some years a member of the executive committee of the International Shakespeare association. In 2000 he and his wife Ann, and cell-mate Peter Brown, visited Gateway.


Penuella Maduna

Born in Johannesburg, his father died soon after his birth.  He was exposed to politics at an early age, as his grandmother was a card-carrying member of ANC.  He was arrested and detained form 1076 to 1997, as he was part of a protest against the shooting of Soweto school children where buildings at a varsity were set on fire.  He left the country for Swaziland but was later arrested and deported along with other ANC members.  He then worked for ANC in Mozambique, Tanzania and Harare where he completed his LLB Degree in University of Zimbabwe.  After 1994, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and in 1996, Minister of Minerals and Energy Affairs.  In 1999, he was appointed Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Moses Madiba [1909 – 1985]

An educationist, first African Chancellor of the University of the North and an Author, he was the son of Jesaya Sekgoadi and Johanna Sebolaishi.  In 1939, he was appointed the Supervisor of schools in Pietersburg West Circuit, which was the highest post; an African teacher could aspire to at that time.  He was also one of the first Africans to be appointed as sub-inspectors of Bantu Education in 1957.  He was a protagonist of mother tongue instruction and of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction in primary schools.  He died at his home after a short sickness.


Ben Dikobe

He was a newspaper vendor, clerk and night watchman.  He contributed to Staffrider.  Ben was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on several counts under the internal security act in 1984.  While in jail, he was studying through UNISA.


Hloni Zondi

He was born in 1961 at Imbali.  He was until 2006 the City Mayor of Pietermaritzburg.  He distinguished himself as a student leader in student politics and part of student leadership. His activities saw him in and out of prison and in 2002; he was elected as Regional Chairperson for Midlands.   He has undergone training in Geneva with International Labour Organisation and with Wits Business School.  He is currently studying towards his MBA studies. 


David Buchannan

The founder of the the Natal Witness was jailed in PMB. Still need further research.


PMB Old Goal – Timeline for some information accessed as part of this process:

1863-The prison was built in 1863. There were 25 cells initially which were expanded to 158 by 1907. Prison conditions were deleterious and unhygienic.

1875-Resident Engineer forwards letter recommending transfer of convicts from Durban to PMB to ease need for labour for public works PMB

1880-Dinizulu was jailed here in 1888 before his exile to St Helena and again in 1907 for his role in the Bambatha Rebellion

1891-Daily Distribution of Prisoners in Central Gaol PMB for week June 14th 1891.Increase of Harbour Workers Gang and reduction of staff of Convict Guards at PMB

1896-Application for release of Native Prisoner  MBIJO

1899-Outbreak of small pox in the prison

1900-Complaint from Dutch prisoners of lack of exercise and other restraints

1901-HW & GJB Boers being transferred to PMB Gaol for High Treason

1903-Death of an East Coast Native Convict in PMB old gaol-Death of a Zanzibar Native convict

1904-Outbreak of small pox

1913-Execution of Magubabe Twala in the PMB Gaol 18 July for murder

Execution of Charlie Kumalo (Muntogulayo Kumalo) 14 July for murder

Leprosy: Native Madisa, said to be suffering from Leprosy

Kasturba Gandhi and a group of woman and 12 men protested the pass laws and were arrested in Natal and sent to PMB prison for 3 months hard labour. Amongst the group was Valliamma R. Munuswami Mudaliar who was only 16 years old when she contracted a fever whilst in the prison and died shortly after her release. Gandhi praised her for her role in the freedom struggle.

1946-Dr. Zeinap Asvat and Dr. Kasavello Goonam were both imprisoned and placed in solitary confinement for their political activities.

Thayanayagie Pillay was imprisoned for demonstrating against the “Ghetto Act”. Many years before her mother and youngest sister were also imprisoned in PMB Prison.

1948-Dr. G.M. Naicker and Dr. Y.M.Dadoo charged with aiding & abetting under the Immigrants Regulations Act of 1913

1985-George Sewpersadh charged with treason in December and acquitted in May 1986. Mr Sewpersadh joined the NIC in 1956 and  was president from 1971 – 1973. He was in prison with M.J. Naidoo, Paul David and Sam Kekane. In his interview Mr Sewpersadh described prison conditions as tolerable  as he could read, play table tennis and was allowed to have food brought from home.




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