South Africa: Rampage at auction house plans to sell Nelson Mandela’s cell key

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The key to his cell Nelson Mandela, this emblematic form of the struggle against him apartheid, may be set to auction sale next month in Britain, an action “unacceptable” against the Government of South Africa.

The Minister of Sports and Culture “Ordered urgent action” after being informed of this “worrying” information published in the British press, according to an announcement issued today, Christmas Eve.

This is the key to Mandela’s cell on Robben Island Prison, where he spent much of his 27 years in prison. His jailer, Christo Bradt, sold it to the British auction house Guernsey’s.

“It is unacceptable that Guernsey’s, who obviously knows the painful history of our country and the symbolism of this key, is thinking of selling it at auction, without consulting the government of South Africa, the authorities responsible for the country’s heritage and the museum of Robben Island ” , stressed Minister Nathi Mwetua. «This key belongs to the South African people (…) It’s not owned by anyone “, he added, noting that he hopes the auction house will understand” how untimely the planned sale is “.

Today Robben Island has been turned into a museum and world heritage site. The objects associated with it have “cultural and historical significance”, the minister explained. They recall the struggle of those who fought apartheid and “in the final analysis, our determination, as a nation, to be free,” he said. “The key must be returned immediately to its rightful owners and this auction must be suspended,” he said, noting that he was in consultation with the justice ministry and the National Heritage Council on how the government would react.

On Robben Island, across from Cape Town, Nelson Mandela’s cell receives daily visits. It is located in area B, in a white, bare corridor overlooking a courtyard. Mandela had planted a garden there that still exists today.

On its website, the British auction house announced that it will go on sale on January 28, stating that in addition to the key to the cell, other items belonging to Mandela will be offered, such as a shirt, glasses, pen, a painting and a bronze mold. of his fist.

Sources: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ, AFP

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