Robben Island Jailer who Befriended Nelson Mandela During 27 Years In Prison Puts Key to his Cell Up for Auction for £1M

The key comes from the prison on Robben island near Cape Town where the anti-apartheid campaigner was incarcerated by the white authorities

A key that kept former South African president Nelson Mandela locked behind bars for almost 20 years is set to fetch more than a million pounds at auction next month.

The key comes from the prison on Robben island near Cape Town where the anti-apartheid campaigner was incarcerated by the white authorities.

It was used by the jailer, Christo Brand, who became his friend, and who is now selling the small metal key more than seven years after Mandela’s death.

The two men forged a bond of friendship that continued until Mandela’s death in 2013 at the age of 95 and now the key is being auctioned off at a New York sale next week.

Founder and president of the New York-based auction house Guernseys, Arlan Ettinger, said today: ‘The idea that an ordinary key worth pennies should be so important is extraordinary. But it represents the best and worst of humanity – Mandela was imprisoned unjustly for 27 years and his first jailer was an 18-year-old boy in his first job.

‘The guard who was in charge of some of the world’s most dangerous prisoners, discovered that Mandela was gentle, kindly and thoughtful man and the pair became good friends – a friendship that lasted the rest of Mandela’s life – from prison to presidency.

‘What that key symbolises is an extraordinary part of the history not just of South Africa but the world.’

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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Sam Baker