Robben Island Museum doubles down on CEO SleepOut denial

Following a statement from CEO SleepOut that the auction of Mandela's cell was approved, RIM has reiterated it was not.


The ongoing saga involving the CEO SleepOut and the Robben Island Museum (RIM) over the proposed auctioning of Nelson Mandela’s cell just won’t go away.

Following RIM’s statement that no permission was given to hold an auction for Madiba’s cell on Robben Island to raise money for charity – the winner of which would be allowed to spend the  night in it – the CEO SleepOut event organisers released a statement in which they say the auction had been agreed upon.

In the statement, the trustees also extended their “sincere apologies if they have offended anyone in their quest to raise funds for worthy causes.”

“The CEO SleepOut Trust has been in ongoing discussions with Robben Island since early 2017 regarding the 2018 Event. In March 2018, The CEO SleepOut Trustees visited Robben Island to meet with the Robben Island Board,” the statement read.

“At this meeting, all of the campaigns relating to the 2018 Robben Island Event were mutually strategised and subsequently agreed upon, which included the following main elements:

  • The CEO SleepOut Project was given access to all the Maximum-Security jail cells for the Event (sic)
  • It included the use of the Maximum-Security Courtyard as well as Nelson Mandela’s Cell No. 7
  • The Auction of Cell No. 7 was agreed upon
  • The CEO SleepOut Project was given exclusive use of the required infrastructures at Robben Island to see the event come to fruition, including the exclusive use of the Robben Island Ferries after the last public ferry at 14:00 on the 18th July. Access to their vehicles on the island, access to their tour guides, who are all former prisoners, access to water and electricity and access to the lime quarry and a night tour of the island.”

The Robben Island Museum, however, says that no permission of any kind was given. Rather it says that, while a draft contract was developed, it was neither finalised nor agreed upon.

“The Philanthropic Collection [CEO SleepOut organisers] met with the executive management team, not the RIM board as alleged in their statement,” a RIM statement reads. “Furthermore, their proposal was submitted in March 2018 where their interest to make use of the Maximum Security Prison was requested. We reviewed their proposal and ensued negotiations from which a draft contract was developed but was never finalised and agreed upon.”

RIM says that the draft contract had made provision for the following:

  • Accommodation at the Multipurpose Learning Centre for 67 people;
  • Ferrying of cargo, organisers and participants;
  • Access to the helicopter pad;
  • The use of the prison field and the prison courtyard;
  • Ground transport on the Island and
  • An Island tour

“No exclusivity was on offer as outlined in the draft contract,” the statement reads. “Following their 20 June 2018 communiqué to postpone the event to November 2018, contract negotiations ceased and there was no further interaction between RIM and the Philanthropic Collection.”

“Evidence suggests that the Philanthropic Collection continued to advertise the event, including an “auction” for Nelson Mandela’s cell. As far as RIM is concerned, the auctioning of Mandela’s cell was never a consideration.”

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