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Madiba's ID book should be protected by heritage authorities, says Nelson Mandela Foundation


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Madiba's ID book should be protected by heritage authorities, says Nelson Mandela Foundation

Former President Nelson Mandela
Photo by Bloomberg
Former President Nelson Mandela

26th January 2024

By: News24Wire


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The Nelson Mandela Foundation has said the late statesman's identity book, set to be auctioned along with almost 100 of Madiba's personal items, should be protected by heritage authorities.

Auction house Guernsey's has advertised the sale for Monday, 22 February, after a court ruling cleared the way for the items to be sold. Nearly 100 items linked to Mandela are set to be auctioned, including his identity book, shoes, shirts, glasses, and even his hearing aids.


The Nelson Mandela Foundation's acting chief executive, Professor Verne Harris, said that Madiba "had no in-principle objection" to his belongings being auctioned off for fundraising initiatives.

"He himself donated items for this purpose many times. The foundation still has in its custody a few artefacts given to it by Madiba specifically for this kind of fundraising," he said.


Harris said that one of the issues that needed to be considered in the "analysis of a fundraising auction related to Madiba", was the heritage value of the items.

"Do any of the items possess an overarching South African heritage value which would place them under the protections afforded by heritage legislation?

"In terms of the auction and the items currently under discussion, we have not had access to the artefacts themselves nor to the kind of detailed contextual evidence required to support clear-cut answers to these questions," he added.

However, Harris said that the foundation believed that Mandela's ID book had heritage value.

"One artefact that we did have access to through Madiba in the past and for which we have significant contextual information is Madiba's 1993 identity document. We believe it to be self-evident that this item requires the protections afforded by South Africa's heritage legislation," he said.

News24 previously reported that the SA Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) had sought an interdict to prevent Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, selling the former president's personal belongings.

However, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed Sahra's application. 

News24 was unable to reach Makaziwe at the time of publication.

Listed price for ID book is R1.4m

Sahra spokesperson Yazeed Sadien said some of the items on auction were still "the subject of the ongoing legal proceedings" and that the agency would continue to challenge the auction.

A date for the continuing legal proceedings has yet to be set.

Guernsey's director Susan Jaffe would not be drawn on the pending legal action. Instead, she said that it was "premature" to have an interview with News24 or address News24's questions.

Sadien added that in 2022, a similar auction was suspended at the request of Sahra, due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

The auction catalogue describes one of the items as Mandela's "personal and only legitimate identification book in post-apartheid South Africa", which was issued in February 1993, about three years after his release from prison. He received a smart ID card in 2013, months before his death.

The listed price for the ID book is $75 000 (R1.4-million), according to the catalogue.

The sale of the items will reportedly fund the creation of the Mandela Memorial Garden around Madiba's grave in Qunu, Eastern Cape.

News24 previously reported that Mandela's grandson, Ndaba Mandela, had slammed his aunt's plans to auction off the former president's personal possessions.

Ndaba said the auction would rob both his family and the South African nation of important heritage items.

Ndaba had not responded further at the time of publication.


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