London to auction Freedom Charter copy

2010-03-11 12:20

A COPY of the original Freedom Charter will be auctioned in London later this month, private auctioneer Bonhams said yesterday.

The document, of immense importance to South Africans, was expected to fetch between £20 000 and £30 000 [between R221 561 to R332 156] on March 24, the auctioneer said in a statement.

Bonhams is a privately owned British auction house and one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. It was founded in 1793.

Bonham’s spokesman, Julian Roup, said the document was a copy of the original Freedom Charter “to which the original signatories attached their signature”.

It is signed by Albert Luthuli, president of the African National Congress, Leon Levy, president of the South African Congress of Trades Unions, Monty Naiker, president of the National Indian Congress, Jimmy Laguma, president of the South African Coloured Peoples Congress and Pieter Beyleveld, president of the South African Congress of Democrats.

Roup said the seller wished to remain anonymous.

Due to the document’s historical importance, it will be sold without a South African export license – to ensure it remained in the country.

“The document is notable for its demand for and commitment to a non-racial South Africa, and this has remained the platform of the ANC.

“The new ‘Constitution of South Africa’ included in its text many of the demands called for in the Freedom Charter. In this way the Freedom Charter can be seen as a foundation for the current South African Constitution.”

It would be sold alongside 230 works of South African artists, including Irma Stern, Maggie Laubser, Jacob Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, William Kentridge, Maud Sumner and Cecil Scotness.

The document was adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown, Soweto, on June 26, 1955.

It was sponsored by the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Coloured People’s Organisation and the Congress of Democrats.

The document can be viewed on the auction house website.

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