CEO SleepOut has issued a public apology after attempting to auction off a night in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island. The trust organisation shared there was confirmed permission from Robben island regarding the 2018 event.
The auction to spend a night in Nelson Mandela’s prison cell started at R3.4-million. Part of the funds raised would go to the Prison-to-College to Pipeline project, in partnership with Stellenbosch University and South African Department of Correctional Services. The project is aimed at reintergrating prisoners into society through educational programes.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Robben Island management were outraged at the blatant disregard for Mandela’s memory and suffering. CEO SleepOut promptly apologised.
“The CEO SleepOutTM Trust would like to extend 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 company said in a statement.
Robben Island responded to the auction, saying they would never allow the auctioning of a night in Nelson Madiba’s cell. Although CEO SleepOut said there was a formal agreement to utilise cell number seven, along with the access to services on the island, Robben island has denied it.
Robben Island Museum spokesperson, Morongoa Ramaboa, said CEO SleepOut connected with them to host the July sleep out, but there was no agreement or discussion with regards to sleeping in Nelson Mandela’s cell during these meetings.
“We strongly condemn the auction of offering the willing bidder the opportunity to sleep in Nelson Mandela’s cell on the island. We’re saddened that Nelson Mandela’s legacy is being exploited in this way. As the world heritage site, Robben Island is under no circumstances considering auctioning Madiba’s cell,” Ramaboa said.