The trustees of The CEO SleepOut Trust initiative says discussions for over a year preceded its attempt to auction a night in Nelson Mandela’s former cell on Robben Island.
The bid would allow a wealthy funder to spend a night in Madiba’s prison cell on Robben Island at a minimum cost of $250‚000 (about R3.4-million).
The Robben Island Museum this week joined in criticism of the auction‚ saying they were shocked to hear of it. The Nelson Mandela Foundation also distanced itself from it.
In a statement‚ the CEO SleepOut said it had intended any offence.
The trustees extended their “sincere apologies if they have offended anyone in their quest to raise funds for worthy causes‚ as this is certainly not its intent”.
The initiative was not unauthorised‚ the trustees stated.
“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. At this meeting all of the campaigns relating to the 2018 Robben Island Event were mutually strategized 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
– 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.”
Furthermore‚ at the 2018 SleepOut Movement launch in May 2018‚ the campaigns – including the Robben Island edition – were presented at the ANC-affiliated Chancellor House. The launch was attended by “the Robben Island appointed spokesperson‚ the trustees said‚ “in addition to all involved stakeholders‚ spokespersons and beneficiaries”.
While it is unclear if the event is going ahead‚ the trustees emphasised their goal was to raise funds for deserving causes.
The beneficiary of the Robben island No. 7 Cell auction was the Prison-to-College Pipeline Project‚ developed through a partnership between Stellenbosch University and the Department of Correctional Services as well as Western Cape community organisations‚ with the aim of integrating prisoners back into their communities.
“. . .The funds raised through the auction of his cell was to go directly to benefitting prisoners in South Africa and assisting with their re-integration into society.”
During its three years in South Africa‚ the trustees said The SleepOut Movement has raised almost R53-million for philanthrophy.
Source: TMG Digital.