Supreme Court – Pritchard Street

The bronze dome of the South Gauteng High Court is a landmark befitting Johannesburg and befitting its function. The recessed arched entrance to the South Gauteng High Court is the heart of the precinct with numerous law firms in the immediate surrounding buildings. The classical columns on either side of the entrance have seen notorious criminals walk past them. Two two-storey wings stretch out on either side, with rectangular and arched windows framed by smaller columns.

The Johannesburg High Court was designed by Gordon Leith at a time when Lord Milner wished to impose the idea of the supremacy of the British Empire and the order and rationale of Victorian ‘enlightenment’ upon all aspects of post-Anglo-Boer War Johannesburg. The statue of Carl von Brandis can be found on the corner of Von Brandis street and Pritchard street, this being the South Western corner of the court precinct. The statue is placed here to commerate Von Brandis because Von Brandis dispersed justice from his tent, somewhere on Von Brandis street.  Ironically, Von Brandis himself was never a judge but a special landdrost of the Witwatersrand.

Interesting facts about the building is that the gauge mark used when measuring out that portion of Johannesburg, is to be found on the North Westerly corner of the High Court building. The ‘yk’ can be found by immediately turning left upon entering the High Court Building, then proceed past Court GC and follow the hallway right to the end. The ‘yk’ can be seen on the floor. The stained glass window above the entrance of the High Court a Coat of arms can be found. It is that of the Transvaal Colony (1902-1910). When the High Court building was designed few knew how long the Transvaal Colony would last and, as students of history will attest, the idea of the Union of South Africa that was founded in 1910, was but a distant hope in 1902. This coat of arms above the entrance to the High Court is the last of its type anywhere on a building in Johannesburg.

Several conspiracy theories exist about the building and include Free Masons constructing the building since some of their symbols are clear in the architecture and other symbols can be seen which includes the square and compasses.

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