Die VOC
Dutch East Indian Company
 

History of the VOC
VOC KAMERS
SAILORS AND SOLDIERS
FIVE VOC INSTITUTIONS
THE VOC CAEP SIEKENHUIJS
THE COMPAGNIE TUIN
THE SLAVE LODGE
VOC STAMOUERS
VOC WOMEN IN THE EAST
VOC LEGACY IN AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 


THE SLAVE LODGE
AM van Rensburg

 
Drawing by van Staden 1710. 
Lodge is in front of Church with tower.


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Model of Slave Lodge, the Church Tower is missing in model.
Notice cemetery between Church and Lodge.

Notice water well. See also picture below of well.

The VOC needed workers to perform all kinds of work. Slaves formed an integral part of the social and labour network of the Company at the Cape. They performed manual work, domestic, clerical, hospital, garden, and skilled artisans etc. They played a major part in the building of the present Company Fort, which was completed in 1674.

In the late 1650's Angolan and Guinea slaves were brought to the Cape. The slaves had to be housed and this is where the Slave Lodge came in. Those who became Company slaves were first housed underneath the granary in the earth walled fort. Then a Lodge was build as part of the Fort's outbuildings, known as Corenhoop. Later a Lodge was build just below the Company gardens (9 acres in size), and opposite the Company Hospital, later the Church was build immediately opposite the Slave Lodge.

This Lodge was rebuild in 1669 because it had become to small and was falling apart. It was the first high density housing in South Africa. This second lodge was a single storey building made of plastered brick. It had a pitched, tile roof in 1679 this building was burned down.

It was rebuild in 1679 as a quadrangular building with a courtyard. The building which replaced it was made of four feet solid thick walls. The average number of people living in the Lodge was 476 persons per year. At its peak the Lodge housed 1,000 persons. The Lodge also served as a lunatic asylum and a prison, for which separate rooms were set aside. It was build in the shape of a big rectangular panopticon. The highest Company official who was in charge of the Slave Lodge was the Fiskaal. The building became 30 feet high. The lodge was expanded enlarged in 1716, 1732 then a flat roof design was given to it. In 1753 it was enlarged again. Most external walls had no windows, however the internal walls had narrow slits with iron cross bars. In the centre of the courtyard was a fountain.

Between 1702 and 1713 over 500 slaves died from epidemics. At first the Company hospital treated slaves but by 1685 one of the reasons was that the pressure was so great on the hospital that they decided to provide a separate hospital for the slaves. The Lodge thus housed a small little hospital on the east side of the Lodge. Rather ironical when the big Company Hospital was immediately opposite, and with the numbers of the slaves who would have been working there. The Lodge also had a little school for the slave children.

The Lodge also served as the brothel for many a VOC worker or Cape Burgher. The Slave Lodge was located right in the heart of the town. It was an integral part of the VOC life at the Cape. Today one is able to go and look at the totally altered and renovated Slave Lodge since it houses the South African Cultural Museum.

Inside the Lodge was a well. Very close to the Slave Lodge was the old slave tree were the slaves were sold. Today there is a plaque that marks the spot where the tree stood. Inside the South African Cultural Museum is a slice of this tree trunk. Looking at the plaque where the old slave tree stood, one can see the Slave Lodge behind it and part of the rebuilt Church on the right hand side.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Robert Shell: Children of Bondage
H Vollgraaff: The Dutch East India Company's Slave Lodge at the Cape

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