|South Africa: Freedom Charter Bought Back At Auction|
26 March 2010
Johannesburg - A GROUP of South African businessmen has stepped in at the last minute to assist the government to save some of the country's national treasures, including the African National Congress's (ANC's) Kliptown Freedom Charter document, from going on sale at a Bonhams auction in London this week.
The sale of the charter was concluded just hours before going under the hammer when the Liliesleaf Trust - supported financially by Adrian Gardiner, CEO of hotel group Mantis, Lord Robin Renwick, former British ambassador to SA, and industrial group Lonmin - stepped in to buy the document.
"It was one of the best moments of my life," said Gardiner, who facilitated the deal for the trust.
The Freedom Charter was estimated to sell for R240000- R360000 at Bonhams' SA sale on Wednesday night, but it is believed that the Liliesleaf Trust paid in excess of £50000 to secure the charter for the government.
An unnamed South African man in the
The sale follows weeks of lobbying by national archivist Graham Dominy to stop the treasures from going on auction. Dominy enlisted the help of Nick Wolpe, CEO of Liliesleaf Trust, in securing the funding to buy the charter while the
The Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on June 26 1955, and later signed by the five adopting chairmen of the South African Congress Alliance: ANC president Albert Luthuli; Leon Levy, president of the South African Congress of Trade Unions; Monty Naicker , president of the National Indian Congress; Jimmy Laguma, president of the South African Coloured People's Congress; and Pieter Beyleveld, president of the South African Congress of Democrats.
"This was always my hope that the charter would be returned to the state and I am delighted that this has now been achieved," said Levy, who was the former owner of the document. It is not clear why he elected to sell the charter and not hand it back to the state.
Dominy said the Department of Arts and Culture was "moving swiftly" to close the legislative loopholes that allows such treasures to be taken out of the country.