Auction of Nelson Mandela’s personal items suspended
Guernsey Auction House halts the sale amid a row over heritage
The sale of 70 personal items belonging to former president Nelson Mandela has been suspended again, as the SA Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) continues with its legal battle to retain some of the items.
The items were set to go under the hammer on February 22 but Guernsey Auction House‚ an international company‚ without explanation announced this week the suspension of the online auction.
This was almost two weeks after Sahra announced it was considering legal avenues to stop the auction.
Sahra spokesperson Yazeed Sadien said on Tuesday the agency had engaged the auction house and Mandela’s daughter‚ Makaziwe Mandela‚ to suspend the auction to allow the ongoing legal proceedings to be finalised.
“Sahra welcomes the decision by Guernsey’s auction house to suspend the auction. This aligns with our commitment to the conservation of SA’s cultural heritage‚ and we appreciate the recognition of the sensitivity surrounding these significant artefacts.”
Sadien said as it pursued the application for leave to appeal a recent high court judgment related to the export of the heritage objects‚ the suspension was a responsible and considerate approach.
“It allows the ongoing legal proceedings to be concluded and affords Sahra the opportunity to pursue its objective of preserving the cultural heritage of our nation.”
This is the second time the auctioneers have suspended the sale.
The auction was initially planned for January 28 2022, but was put on hold by a legal battle between Makaziwe‚ Mandela’s former prison warder David Parr and the agency‚ which had attempted to stop the sale.
The agency argued that 29 items belonging to Mandela were heritage objects and asked the high court in Pretoria to order Makaziwe to return them to SA. In December‚ the court dismissed Sahra’s application for an interdict‚ saying there was little evidence to support the claim that the items were heritage objects.
The agency‚ supported by the minister of sport‚ arts & culture Zizi Kodwa‚ filed an application for leave appeal.
Items that were to be auctioned included Mandela’s identity document‚ issued in 1993‚ letters from prison‚ his walking stick‚ drawings he sketched while in jail‚ a gift from former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle‚ and other gifts he received.
According to the auction company‚ the proceeds would be used to build a memorial garden at Mandela’s gravesite in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Kodwa said this month he supported the agency’s move.
“Former president Nelson Mandela is integral to South Africa’s heritage. His life‚ experiences and legacy live in our consciousness and in the values we promote as a country. It is thus important that we preserve his legacy and ensure his life’s work and experiences remain in the country for generations to come‚” Kodwa said.
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