Nelson Mandela's cell not up for auction at CEO SleepOut - Robben Island

Robben Island management has slammed reports that former president Nelson Mandela's cell will be auctioned at this year's CEO SleepOut, which is expected to be held at the prison. 

This comes after a poster did the rounds on social media, bearing the words: "Robben Island room bid. In addition, the once in-a-lifetime opportunity to sleep in Madiba's personal cell number – 7 will be auctioned off for the night with bids opening at US$250 000.00."

It sparked a lot of debate and some said the sleepout was done in bad taste. 

Robben Island spokesperson Morongoa Ranaboa said they were a world heritage site and would "never ever offer anyone Mandela's cell."

"We can't do that. We've got so many bodies that we are accountable to and it belongs to the nation. So, what right would we have to auction Mandela's cell or any cell for that matter."

The sleepout was supposed to be held on July 18, however, Ranaboa said the organisers pulled out and asked for a postponement. 

It would have marked the day that Mandela turned 100.

According to Ramaboa, the organisers asked for a postponement to November. 

Sixty-seven South African and international influencers, business leaders and celebrities were invited to participate in the event at the maximum-security prison. 

"We haven't received any provisional booking from them and we don't know to when they actually want to postpone to. At this stage, we are still waiting on them," she said. 

The CEO SleepOut Movement could not be reached for comment, but spokesperson Liane McGowan told AFP: "The suggestion was to auction the cell to raise money to fund the Prison-to-College Pipeline... educating incarcerated people in South Africa."

She said that details of when the one night only fundraiser will take place, had not been finalised.

The auction is still advertised on their website.

"P2CP will receive funding from the auction of Mandela's Cell Number 7 on Robben Island and his outside bedroom at Liliesleaf Farm and Museum."


(Screengrab from theceosleepoutza.co.za)

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