‘We had a nightmare experience at Robben Island’‚ says Cape Town man

Robben Island Prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, now a museum, Cape Town, South Africa as viewed at the entry gate.
Robben Island Prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, now a museum, Cape Town, South Africa as viewed at the entry gate.  Image: 123RF/mark52

A Cape Town man has described his and his family’s experience at Robben Island at the weekend as the “most embarrassing and most disappointing experience ever“.

Mufaro Magidi and his family went to the island – a former leper colony most famously known as housing the prison where former president Nelson Mandela and other apartheid activists were kept – on Sunday. But he‚ his wife‚ his wife’s mother‚ two of his wife’s aunts and another family member‚ did not get the trip they were hoping for.

Magidi said his mother-in-law and one of her sisters are confined to wheelchairs. He said that prior to their trip he made several calls to find out whether the island tour was wheelchair-friendly. He said he was assured it was.

“On arrival at the Island‚ we were told to walk with the guide and a group of tourists to the cells for the first leg of the tour because the buses were full.

“The guide did not pay any attention as to the physical needs of the people and we were left behind to walk on our own‚” Magidi said.

He said that by the time they arrived at the cells‚ the group they were following had already left. A staff member arrived and took them on the tour of the cells.

“Even when you get to the cells‚ there was no ramp for wheelchairs [at the entrance they used]. We literally had to lift up the person‚ bend the wheelchair and push it through the door‚” said Magidi.

He said they had then proceeded to the bus for the island tour.

-Iavan Pijoos

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