Drakenstein Correctional Centre

Drakenstein Correctional Services, previously known as Victor Verster Prison, officially opened its doors to 1500 young offenders on 01 October 1963.

The initial prison precincts were just over 204 hectares of land and comprised of only one farm, “Klein Switzerland” (Little Switzerland).  After some more negotiations with a number of farmers, government also acquired three more farms (Eensaamheid, Klipbank and Watervliet) which increased the total hectares to 402.

During June 1998 Victor Verster Prison officially lost the yoke of being an Apartheid establishment and stronghold when it was renamed to Drakenstein Correctional Services.
The name Drakenstein derives from the correspondingly named mountains towards the east of the facility, as well as the valley in which it is situated.

This Correctional facility made global headlines in 1990 when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela completed his long walk to freedom after being released on 11 February 1990. The entire facility or institution subsequently became a significant icon for the political settlement that lead to the unraveling of apartheid, negotiations and freedom. It was ultimately here at Drakenstein where Madiba took those few short steps on his long walk to freedom – steps which, in their simplicity, were a significant turning point in South African history.

Whereas Victor Verster was a symbol of oppression, Drakenstein became a beacon of hope and a symbol that the good always conquers the bad. The name changing was thus absolute necessary since it now has no political baggage or allies, but is rather indicative of the transformation which took place since Madiba’s release from prison.