Robben Island distances itself from 'exploitative' Mandela prison cell auction

The CEO SleepOut initiative has come under fire on social media for auctioning a night to sleep in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.

The annual charity event has apparently backtracked on the bid, which would have cost a minimum of $250‚000‚ or about R3.4 millon.

Robben Island Museum management has strongly condemned the bid which has since been removed from the website.

The page on the CEO SleepOut website previously read:

"No auction of its kind has ever been done in South Africa. The highest bidder will win the honour of spending the night inside the historic cell number 7‚ where Mandela spent 18 years."

Robben Island spokesperson, Morongoa Ramaboa, says the organisers of the event never discussed the possibility of anyone sleeping in or auctioning Mandela's cell.

Ramaboa says management were left in the dark and are still waiting for a formal response from the CEO SleepOut's PR team.

She says the auction has caused Robben Island reputational damage.

The possibility of anyone sleeping or spending the night or even auctioning Nelson Mandela's cell was never discussed or raised during the negotiations.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

Robben Island Museum condemns the auction. There was never such an opportunity.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

We are saddened that Nelson Mandela's legacy is being exploited in this way.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

We were unaware of the live auction on the website.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

It doesn't meet with our mandate as a World Heritage Site.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

We found out about this action through the public domain.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

We reached out to the organisers to respond to the serious allegations. We were informed that their PR agency has a holding statement in place. We still haven't received that holding statement.

Morongoa Ramaboa, Robben Island Museum spokesperson

Take a listen to Robben Island's response:

Below are some of the reactions to the story posted on Twitter:


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