Interviews with former political prisoners of Robben Island Museum
INTERVIEW WITH AHMED KATHRADA
Listen to an extensive interview with Ahmed Kathrada recorded on 13 April 2015 at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Houghton, Johannesburg.
Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada (born 21 August 1929, sometimes known by the nickname "Kathy") is a South African politician and former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist. Kathrada's involvement in the anti-apartheid activities of the African National Congress (ANC) led him to his long-term imprisonment, alongside Nelson Mandela, following the Rivonia Trial, in which he was held at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison. Following his release in 1990, he was elected to serve as a member of parliament, representing the ANC.
INTERVIEW WITH KGALEMA MOTLANTHE
Listen to an interview with Kgalema Motlanthe, conducted on 10 April 2015, Houghton Johannesburg.
Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe is a South African politician who served as President of South Africa between 25 September 2008 and 9 May 2009, following the resignation of Thabo Mbeki. After the end of his presidency, Motlanthe was appointed as the Deputy President of South Africa by his successor, current South African president Jacob Zuma.
Motlanthe was previously a student activist, trade unionist and member of the ANC's military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe during the struggle against South Africa under Apartheid, and was imprisoned on Robben Island for his anti-apartheid activities, alongside figures such as Nelson Mandela.
INTERVIEW WITH TOKYO SEXWALE
This extensive interview was conducted on 30 March 2015, at Mr. Sexwale's offices, Houghton, Johannesburg.
Mosima Gabriel "Tokyo" Sexwale (born 5 March 1953), is a South African businessman, politician, anti-apartheid activist, and former political prisoner. Sexwale was imprisoned on Robben Island for his anti-apartheid activities, alongside figures such as Nelson Mandela. After the 1994 general election—the first universal franchise election in South Africa—Sexwale became the Premier of Gauteng Province. Later, he served in the government of South Africa as Minister of Human Settlements from 2009 to 2013.
The day I found myself in prison I made the resolution to resist imprisonment, to continually endeavour to escape and to resist with all my strength the possible adverse effect of imprisonment.
The incident with making a master key to the cells of Robben Island must have been my fifth attempt to escape.
Before turning to the idea of making a key. Japhta Masemola and myself considered other means of escape. Cutting through the bars was impossible, since each prison bar had a thinner high grade steel bar mounted on ball bearings inside an outer bar which made it virtually cut proof. We first tried jacking the bars aside with a screw jack. This jack proved too weak. A hydraulic jack might have worked.
It was my job to observe the pattern of the key the warders used. I noticed that the manufacturer of the lock was British, and concluded that the measurements will be in inches. The height, depth and diameter of the ring at the top of the keyhole was carefully measured. A thirty-secondth of an inch was deducted from these measurements and the width, height and diameter of the barrel of the key was obtained. Bra Jeff was thus able to grind the basic blank key from these dimensions. He did this very expertly since the only grinding tools he had in his blacksmith shop in the quarry were a grinding wheel and a whetstone.
The basic key was brought in twice to get a good fit. Once this was complete the key came in with a small supply of fat. Late in the night Anthony Suze and myself lit the fat and the blank key was held in the smoke until well blackened. This blackened key was then carefully inserted into the lock, strongly twisted and slowly withdrawn. The first pattern of the key was formed onto the blackened blank and measured. The pattern was drawn on paper and taken to Bra Jeff. Bra Jess then spent about two weeks grinding the first prototype of the key. The key was now brought back by Tony, expertly hidden in the search or tauza lines which all prisoners coming from the quarry must pass.
Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Robben Island Museum
Videos Production: produced by Jungle Corner
Digital technologies company
Executive Creative Director: Neil Whitehead
Film Director: Christopher Bisset
Cinematography: Ross Hillier
Art Director Kirsten Felbert
Editor: Grant Birch
First assistant camera: Keenan Ferguson