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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘Madiba’s legacy must be preserved,’ Kodwa says as auction of Mandela’s personal items looms

Mandela's daughter Makaziwe won a legal battle against the South African Heritage Resources Agency which attempted to stop the auction.

Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa has stressed that South Africa must preserve the legacy of late former president Nelson Mandela.

This comes after Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe won a two-year legal battle against the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) which attempted to stop the auction of some of Madiba’s personal items.

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria overturned an interdict sought by SAHRA against Makaziwe Mandela, and his former prison warder Christo Brand.


Nearly 100 items including Madiba’s prison key, identity book, personal drawings, his famous shirts and treasured gifts are set to be auctioned on Monday to provide funds for a memorial garden in the Eastern Cape.

British auction house Guernsey’s has advertised the online auction for Monday. It is feared that some of the items will be scooped up by international customers, which will rob South Africans from relishing in the legacy of Madiba.

ALSO READ: Madiba’s daughter says SAHRA, government trying to rob her of private property

Madiba’s legacy

Kodwa echoed the significant concern raised by SAHRA on the auction of Madiba’s personal items.

“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 the legacy of former president Mandela and ensure that his life’s work and experiences remain in the country for generations to come.

“It is important for us to record and tell our stories to deepen our heritage. The legacy of former president Mandela, and many others who have contributed to get South Africa where it is today as a free, democratic and culturally diverse nation, cannot be forgotten. It is therefore critical to support the intervention by SAHRA for the sake of maintaining the country’s rich heritage,” said Kodwa.

Court battles

On 28 December 2023, SAHRA, with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Robben Island Museum, lodged an application for leave to appeal the High Court judgment relating to the export for exhibition or sale on auction of items associated with Mandela. 

The department said while this matter is still before the court, it noted with concern the impending auction of items associated with Madiba.

In court papers, the SAHRA said it learnt of the planned sale of the items in December 2021 through a report in the British newspaper, The Daily Mail. At the time, it was reported that the key to Madiba’s former prison cell would be auctioned for more than £1 million (R24 million),” News24 reported.

During court proceedings, while SAHRA argued that 29 of the items had been declared heritage items and should not have been taken out of the country, Makaziwe claimed they were not and asked the court to set aside the agency’s decision to declare the items as heritage objects.

Brand also asked the court to dismiss the SAHRA’s application saying the key, along with any other items he owns, would not be auctioned.

ALSO READ: Nelson Mandela prison cell key to be returned to SA, auction suspended

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