Mandela Foundation distances itself from Robben Island sleepover

Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island.
Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island.
Image: SHELLEY CHRISTIANS

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has slammed an initiative that attempted to auction a night in Madiba’s former cell on Robben Island.

Foundation spokesperson Lunga Nene told SowetanLIVE that there was no relation between the organisers of the initiative and the foundation.

“We did not approve anything. We were not involved in the process of coming to that event. So I only know what you know. I read it in the newspapers. I can not comment any further. It is not a project that is affiliated with us at all‚” said Nene on Thursday.

On Wednesday‚ the SleepOut Movement‚ which organises the annual CEO SleepOut charity event‚ seemingly backtracked on its plans to allow a wealthy funder to spend a night in former president Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island‚ an experience that would have cost a minimum of $250‚000 - or about R3.4-million!

Details of the “Robben Island Room Bid” were originally published on the organisation’s website‚ which billed it was a “once in a life [sic] opportunity to sleep in Mandela’s personal Cell Number 7”.

By Wednesday night the advert had been removed from the SleepOut Movement website. However‚ by 9.15pm on Wednesday the cover image of their Facebook page still advertised the “Nelson Mandela Legacy SleepOut - Robben Island Edition” to take place on July 18.

The Robben Island Museum has also lashed out at the idea. Spokesperson Morongoa Ramaboa said museum staff were shocked to find out about the auction on the internet‚ as everyone else did.

“It was a shock. We would like to commend South Africans for calling them out‚” she said.

“It’s completely impossible. You can’t auction any cell for that matter. We are a World Heritage Site and accountable to Unesco. It is the heritage of South Africans.

“Why would we do that to ourselves? Our heritage is not some piece of carrot that can be dangled to people who have their own financial interests in mind‚” said Ramaboa.

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