Robben Island, a World Heritage Site, is in the words of the Robben Island Museum, a symbol of the “indestructibility of the human spirit of resistance against colonialism, injustice and oppression.” Best known for the prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for many years, Robben Island was used as a place to isolate people with leprosy between 1845 and 1931. It is estimated that 3,500 to 4,000 people with leprosy were sent to Robben Island. Two churches remain that can be traced to the time when people with leprosy lived there, along with a cemetery, with about 200 tombstones in varying states of deterioration, where names can still be identified. There also remains a lone grave in an empty field next to the maximum security prison, which is said to have been built on top of the graves of people who had leprosy.
photo: Cemetery on Robben Island where persons with leprosy are buried.
photo by Anwei S. Law