Group apologises over auction to spend night in Mandela’s cell

The prison on Robben Island, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years (Carolyn Kaster/AP) Credit: PA

A South African organisation that was auctioning a night in Nelson Mandela’s prison cell has apologised and removed the event from its website.

The CEO SleepOut raises money for the homeless and had offered the highest bidder a night in the cell on Robben Island, where the anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner spent 18 years.

Bids had begun at 250,000 US dollars for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

The auction raised an outcry among some in South Africa, with a Robben Island Museum spokeswoman telling local media there had been no agreement to use the cell.

“So brazenly in bad taste, there are no words,” local photographer Victor Dlamini said on Twitter.

A statement offered “sincere apologies” but the organisation’s website said the Robben Island event has been postponed, not cancelled.