Court puts SAHRA heritage objects case against Nelson Mandela daughter on hold

Earlier this year, South African Heritage Resources Agency - together with the Robben Island Museum and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture - approached the Pretoria High Court for an order that about 30 items be returned to home soil.

The entrance of the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Picture: Zunaid Ismael/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Heritage Resources Agency’s (SAHRA’s) court bid to force the return of dozens of “heritage objects” linked to former president Nelson Mandela has been put on ice, for now.

Earlier this year, SAHRA - together with the Robben Island Museum and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture - approached the Pretoria High Court for an order that about 30 items including artworks, books and clothing be returned to home soil.

SAHRA said they were illegally exported without the required permits by Mandela’s eldest daughter, Dr Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah, and his jailer-turned friend, Christo Brand.

This ahead of a cancelled auction by New York-based Guernsey’s to raise funds for a memorial garden in Qunu.

The case came before the court on Tuesday but it was postponed.

In papers SAHRA submitted in support of the application to postpone yesterday’s hearing, CEO Lungisa Malgas explained her office had recently changed legal representatives and that the new team needed more time to prepare.

She also said SAHRA wanted to submit further evidence on how and why it had declared the items in question “heritage objects” which Dr Mandela-Amuah disputes they are, arguing in her opposing papers that she’s done nothing wrong and the State is trying to seize control of her private property.

Brand, too, is opposing the case.

Judge Anthony Millar granted the postponement.

He slapped SAHRA and the other applicants with a costs order.

A new date has not yet been decided.