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US News The key to the Nelson Mandela cell for sale, the government stops the auction

02:00  12 january  2022
02:00  12 january  2022 Source:   rfi.fr

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La cellule de Nelson Mandela dans le bagne de Robben Island. © Getty the Nelson Mandela cell in the robben Island prison.

controversy in South Africa after the sale of a prison cell key when Nelson Mandela was locked up in Robben Island, the prison island off Cape Town. It was entrusted to Guernsey's, a New York auction house, by Christo Brand, former jailer and friend of Nelson Mandela. The Ministry of Culture ensures working to the repatriation of the key and other objects put on sale.

with our correspondent in Johannesburg, Romain Song

among all the items on sale - including an apartment bike or a copy of the constitution signed by Nelson Mandela - it is an old key prison that caused the controversy. This key did not only open the Mandela cell but many others. For MPHO Masemola, Deputy Secretary of the Association of Former Political Prisoners of South Africa, this key is more than just a memory.

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"This key is the symbol of our freedom. It is associated with the release of Robben Island's political prisoners. The owner, Christo Brand, ensures that the sale had to finance a garden dedicated to Nelson Mandela in Qunu, the village where the former South African president is buried. Faced with the outcry, the government managed to suspend the auction that was to take place on January 23rd. Christo Brand agrees to withdraw her from the sale and leave it in the current exhibition in the United States. For its part, the Ministry of Culture works at the repatriation of the key in South Africa. It is also what the former detainee Mpho Masemola wants.

"We would be happy if Christo Brand and the auction house could make amends honorable and bring the key. It belongs to the state, it must be registered and paid to the national archives.

The Ministry of Culture considers that the key is a property of the South African state. The status of other items on sale is also under study.

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