Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tronk n.

also tronck, trunk
[Fr. tronc, box, Du. tronk or Buganese tarunka, a prison. The word could have been imported by Buganese and Balinese slaves; also used in mid-20C Pennsylvania as n., a prison and v., to imprison]

1. (S.Afr.) prison.

[UK]Government Records Fort St George, Madras n.p.: The justices [...] committed him to the Custody of the Talliars in the Trunke, but on the 21 September last, he made his escape by breaking through the Prison wall .
Lady A. Barnard in Lindsay Lives of Lindsays (1849) III 475: The cow [...] had offended the laws by walking on the parade, the consequence of which was, like other caitiffs, she was put in the Tronck [DSAE].
[UK]R.B. Fisher Importance of Cape of Good Hope 139: A master or mistress is forbid to punish a slave, but must send him to the trunk or jail for punishment.
[UK]C.I. Latrobe Journal 77: The landdrost showed us the church and the prison, here called the tronk.
[SA] ‘Kaatje Kekkelbek or Life Among the Hottentots’ in D.C.F. Moodie (1888) II 555: Daar was Zaartje Zeekoegat, en ik, / En ouw Dirk Donderwetter, / Klaas Klauterberg, en Diedrick Dick, / All sent to Tronk together.
[UK]Pringle & Conder Narrative of a Residence in S. Afr. 179: This tronk consisted of a single apartment, of about twenty feet long by twelve or fourteen broad.
[SA]L. Duff Gordon 3 Jan. Letters from the Cape (1875) 255: He [...] insisted on taking him into custody and to the ‘Tronk’ (prison).
[UK]A.A. Cunynghame My Command in S. Afr., 1874–1878 163: I sleep in tronk. Next day magistrate tell me, ‘You break bye-law; you go jail one month.’ I go jail; I come out. Durban no good, no good at all.
[UK]F. Dixie In the Land of Misfortune 161: A line of small houses extending from this spot was riddled with bullets, and the whole appearance of the Tronk, or gaol, was that of disfigurement and ruin.
[UK]B. Mitford ’Tween Snow and Fire 59: I’ll have the old schelm in the tronk by to-night.
[SA]D. Blackburn Leaven 269: You have never been in tronk, have you?
[SA]Blackburn & Caddell Secret Service in S. Afr. 76: Say you are guilty and get off with a month in tronk. It’s not bad in our tronk. No hard work, plenty of skoff.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 21 Feb. 12/6: Some time after this, the Lobsters / Pops the two on ’em in the Trunk.
[SA]N. Devitt Legal Atmospherics 173: The white-washed walls of the old ‘tronk,’ as the prison was called.
[SA]N. Devitt Celebrated S. Afr. Crimes 50: In those days the gaol or ‘tronk’ stood where the library stands to-day.
[SA]A. Jackson Trader on Veld 27: Ours was a small police station, with a ‘Tronk.’.
[UK]H. Kuper Witch in my Heart IV i: How did you like your taste of tronk?
[UK]P. Driscoll Wilby Conspiracy (1991) 9: The Kliptronk, the maximum-security block.
[SA]Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg) 12 Mar. 🌐 Surely between his income scandal [...] and hate speech, there’s enough to ensure he spends time in the tronk?
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 242: ‘A genuine doctor. Genuinely struck off, served his time in tronk’.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[SA]D. Muller Whitey 35: To steal a chicken is nothing. To steal a bottle of brandy from a bar is tronk business.