Gandhi came to South Africa in 1893. Over time he became active in the politics of resistance, calling for Indian and Chinese people (classified as non-white) to burn their pass (identity) books. He was tried, convicted and sentenced for this. He left for India In 1914 having shaped and established his policy of passive resistance, 'Satyagraha'. His time as a lawyer in Johannesburg is remembered in a 2.5metre statue on the square. Unveiled on October 2 (Gandhi's birthday) in 2003, Tinka Christopher’s bronze statue a young Mohandas Gandhi as a lawyer, a gown over his suit, and a book beneath his arm as he looks ahead.
Behind the Gandhi statue is the beautiful heritage building Somerset House which was restored in 2019 and is now home to Thunder Walker. Run by local walking tour company Joburg Places, Thunder Walker is a multi-functional events space that takes advantage of the historic building’s many period features. The building is linked to the adjacent street behind the square by a unique early 20th Century tiled arcade.
Downstairs in the basement, the old bank vaults of the United Building Society have been turned into the Zwipi Underground Bar, a quirky space set amid hundreds of Edwardian safety deposit boxes where Joburg Places' host their popular storytelling evenings. Meanwhile upstairs in the arcade with its gleaming majolica tiles is the Scatterlings cafe (currently open Fri and Sat for lunch).
Gandhi Square sits between the pedestrianised Main Street Mining Precinct and the Carlton Centre, Africa's tallest building. The City Sightseeing bus stops four blocks west of Gandhi Square in the heart of the Mining District and three blocks east in front of the Carlton Centre.