South Africa seeks to prevent auction of Nelson Mandela items
Cape Town: The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) has said that it will continue its fight to prevent a proposed online auction of Nelson Mandela’s personal belongings.
In a statement issued on Friday, the heritage agency said that “SAHRA, together with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, and the Robben Island Museum, lodged an application for leave to appeal the judgment on December 28, 2023,” which allowed the auction to move forward.
According to the statement, the auction, scheduled to take place in the US on February 22, could go ahead, as the application is pending before the High Court, Xinhua news agency reported.
This was after Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe won a two-year legal battle against SAHRA.
The auction was initially set for January 28, 2022, but was halted due to the legal challenge.
SAHRA argued that 29 of the items belonging to Mandela were heritage objects and asked the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to order Makaziwe to return them to South Africa.
In December, the court dismissed SAHRA’s application for an interdict saying there was little evidence to support the allegation the items were heritage objects.
“This situation raises significant concerns for SAHRA, the Department and the Museum and requires careful consideration due to the historical and cultural importance of the items at risk of sale,” said the statement.
“SAHRA, the Department and the Museum are urgently assessing the lawfulness and implications of the impending auction, and considering all available remedies,” it added.
According to media reports, the auction would sell 70 items belonging to Mandela.
“Former President Nelson Mandela is integral to South Africa’s heritage,” Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa said in a separate statement on Friday.
“It is thus important that we preserve the legacy of … Mandela and ensure his life’s work and experiences remain in the country for generations to come,” Kodwa added.