Mthethwa appoints team to probe allegations by ex-political prisoners

Images of former prisoners displayed at the Robben Island Museum. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)
Images of former prisoners displayed at the Robben Island Museum. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has appointed a team of investigators to quell threats by the Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) to occupy the world-renowned Robben Island.

Mthethwa's spokesperson Asanda Magaqa said a team of investigators were appointed on Friday.

"The investigators will be allocated with the terms of reference of their work. The scope of their investigations has also been determined," said Magaqa.

The EPPA has threatened to escalate their anger further by occupying the prison cells and embark on a hunger strike if Mthethwa didn't address their grievances.

Magaqa said the EPPA complained about how board members and management of Robben Island Museum (RIM) handled matters at the tourism destination, which once housed South Africa's most prominent struggle veterans.

The organisation also called for the immediate dissolution of the RIM board and the resignation of the museum's chief executive officer. 

READ: Robben Island Museum hits back at ex-prisoners after claims of bad management

After approaching the department with a host of allegations against the RIM board and management, the RIM presented its own counter allegations against the EPPA to the ministry.

The counter-allegations forced Mthethwa to institute investigations into the matter.

Serious allegations

In a statement issued earlier, Mthethwa said allegations made by the EPPA against the RIM are grave in nature.  

"These allegations are primarily centred on issues of governance, nepotism and corruption. Worthy to note, is that upon being presented with these allegations, RIM leadership subsequently made its own counter-allegations against the EPPA.  

"The counter-allegations made were also brought to the attention of the leadership of the EPPA. I have considered and consulted at length on both cases presented to me by each party. It is on this basis that I have decided on the immediate course of action that is an independent probe.

"Mindful of the seriousness of the allegations that have been made by the EPPA against RIM leadership, in the interests of natural justice it is of utmost importance that we undertake a formal process such as this investigation," Mthethwa said.

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