The key that was used to lock late South African president Nelson Mandela’s cell in Robben Island is up for auction on 28 January 2022.
The Apartheid stalwart spent 27 years (18 in Robben Island) behind bars for fighting for the rights of Black South Africans, opposing apartheid laws.
In a report by Daily Mail, the key will start at £ 1 million (R21 million) at the New York-based auction house Guernsey. The auction will be hosted online and a number of items other items owned by Mandela will be sold.

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According to Daily Mail, the South African Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has spoken out against the auction of the items saying “it is unfathomable for Guernseys, which is clearly aware of the painful history of our country and the symbolism of the key, to consider auctioning the key without any consultation with the South African Government, the heritage authorities in South Africa and Robben Island Museum.”

“The key comes from the prison on Robben island near Cape Town where the anti-apartheid campaigner was incarcerated by the white authorities. This key belongs to the people of South Africa under the care of Robben Island Museum and the South African State. It is not anyone’s personal belonging.”

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Mthethwa added that the key must be returned to its rightful owners with immediate effect and this auction must be halted. 
“I am currently in discussions with the Robben Island Museum Council, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola and the National Heritage Council to consider appropriate steps that must be taken to stop the auction and to secure the return of the key to South Africa.”
In his statement also said that the Robben Island Museum has a legal mandate to collect and preserve objects associated with the prison for the people of South Africa.