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South African minister objects to sale of Mandela's cell key
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A South African Cabinet minister on Friday urged the cancellation of an upcoming U.S. auction of a key to the Robben Island prison cell where Nelson Mandela, the country's first Black president, was long jailed for his opposition to apartheid.
The key is among Mandela memorabilia being sold by Guernsey's auction house in New York on Jan. 28. Most of the items were provided by members of Mandela's family to raise funds for a planned museum and garden around his grave, while the key is being sold by Mandela's former jailer who became his friend.
"It is unfathomable for Guernsey's, 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," Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement.