A pamphlet calling for support of theFreedom Charter.(Image: South African History Online) MEDIA CONTACTS • Julian RoupBonhams press office+44 207 468 8259Janine ErasmusUpdate: The Liliesleaf Trust and a group of South African businessmen, spearheaded by hotelier Adrian Gardiner, CEO of the Mantis Group, and former British ambassador to South Africa, Lord Robin Renwick, bought the copy of the Freedom Charter just hours before it was due to go under the hammer.The group dramatically prevented the auction of the priceless document, ensuring its return to South Africa.A Business Day report suggests that the group paid more than £50 000 (R554 000) for the Charter.A copy of South Africa’s Freedom Charter was due to be auctioned in London later in March, and is expected to fetch anything up to £30 000 (R333 613).The Freedom Charter is an important part of South Africa’s past and was the forerunner of the country’s Constitution, universally hailed as one of the most progressive in the world.The historical document was adopted at the Congress of the People, which was convened in Kliptown, Soweto, in June 1955. This meeting was attended by about 3 000 people, of which 320 were Indian, 230 coloured and 112 white. One of the delegates was Nelson Mandela, although his movements and activities had been restricted by the government of the time.Auction house Bonhams said it expected the Freedom Charter to bring in between £20 000 (R222 407) and £30 000 when it goes under the hammer on 24 March.However, the document will not leave South Africa because it will be sold without an export licence. The identity of the seller has been revealed as former president of the South African Congress of Trade Unions, Leon Levy.According to Bonhams spokesperson Julian Roup, the document is a copy but has been signed by the signatories to the original Charter. These include then African National Congress (ANC) president Albert Luthuli, Pieter Beyleveld of the South African Congress of Democrats, James “Jimmy” La Guma of the South African Coloured Peoples’ Congress, Gagathura Mohambry “Monty” Naicker of the Natal Indian Congress, and Levy himself.Other South African works on offer on the night include a number of pieces by some of the country’s most famous artists, including William Kentridge, Cecil Skotnes, Gerard Sekoto, Maggie Laubser and Irma Steyn.Charting the way to freedomThe Freedom Charter arose out of the Congress of the People campaign, instituted by the ANC in the mid-1950s to bring the various liberation movements in the country together with a common list of demands, in accord with the 1948 UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights.The ANC sent over 50 000 so-called “Freedom Volunteers” out to the townships to publicise the forthcoming national freedom convention, and to collect suggestions and demands for the Freedom Charter which had been mooted at the ANC’s Cape congress in 1953.It was the distinguished academic Professor ZK Matthews who came up with the idea, saying, “I wonder whether the time has not come for the ANC to consider the question of convening a national convention, a congress of the people, representing all the people of this country irrespective of race or colour, to draw up a Freedom Charter for the democratic South Africa of the future.”Once all the demands were in the National Action Council of the Charter set to work sorting and categorising them. The backbone of the document slowly emerged from the jumble of information, and the council presented it to the ANC the day before the opening of the Congress of the People.Its famous opening words, “We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white,” are today enshrined in the Constitution.The Congress alliance consisted of the ANC, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured People’s Congress and the South African Congress of Democrats. These organisations together presented the Freedom Charter as the statement of their principles.Police interrupted the two-day congress on the second day, but by then all those present had already heard the tenets of the Charter and were fired up for action. To escape arrest, Nelson Mandela had to disguise himself as a milkman, a situation described in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.The government denounced the Charter as a communist document, and because communism was banned at the time, they proceeded to arrest over 150 activists, including Mandela. This led to the notorious Treason Trial of 1956, which dragged on until 1961 when all 156 accused were found not guilty.Their arrest and incarceration could not stop the surreptitious circulation of the Charter among young and old freedom fighters, and it kept the hopes of the people alive.
File photo of CGF CEO Mike Hooper talking on the phone at the Games Village in New Delhi. PTI Photo Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell might talk about sharing the blame for poor preparations of the Delhi mega-event but its CEO Mike Hooper says the CGF cannot be held responsible for the Organising Committee’s failure to meet deadlines.”I take responsibility for my areas of responsibility, and that has been working very hard with the organising committee to get things done. Now, at the end of the day, I’m not a construction engineer. I’m not a builder,” Hooper told ‘TVNZ’.Hooper said the developers of the venues did not hand them over to the OC on time and this has led to the current crisis.CLICK HERE FOR MOREHow showpiece turned shocker CWG: Army to bridge the gap Village filth that raised a global stinkFrom Village to Nehru stadium in 7 min flat”We’re at the hands and the mercy of, effectively, the government of India, the Delhi government, the agencies responsible for delivery of the venues. They consistently failed to meet deadlines,” he said.”Now, we were very active, very strong in pushing for this to be done. The actual venues were not handed over effectively – and I say handed over from the point of view of getting venue-completion certificates and occupancy certificates,” he added.Hooper said the organisers did not act despite repeated reminders by the CGF.”…the very frustrating thing is we have consistently spoken out loudly and clearly, consistent in our reporting: ‘Get these things done. Get these venues delivered. Focus on the operational delivery of the Games.’advertisement”And unfortunately, we are where we are. Now, we can all do these post-mortems later, Paul. The reality is right now we need to focus on getting as much as we can done. It is unfortunate that we had to go as public as we did yet again,” he added.On Saturday, Fennell had stated that the CGF shared the blame for Delhi’s under-preparedness.Malaysian sprinter Siti Zubaidah pulls out of CWGThe growing list of athletes pulling out of the Commonwealth Games got longer on Sunday with Malaysian sprinter Siti Zubaidah Adabi withdrawing from the crisis-hit event citing poor form.The 24-year-old Siti became the first Malaysian athlete to pull out of the October 3-14 mega-event after failing to clock a good timing in the Armed Force meet in Ipoh last weekend.Siti was supposed to compete under Category B in the Games after she failed to beat the qualifying mark of 11.40 seconds, which is the sixth placing mark of the 2006 Melbourne Games.She, however, was selected to compete in the Delhi Games under Category B for clocking a personal best of 11.81 in the 100m at the Asian Grand Prix in Pune, India in June.”She could not not clock a good time in the Armed Force meet because she had just recovered from a right heel injury,” National chief coach Harun Rasheed was quoted as saying in the ‘Star Online’.Considering her poor form, Siti, who finished a disappointing fourth in the women’s 100m final in the Armed Forces meet, was advised to skip the Games to focus on the Asian Games in November by coach Harun.”Siti is the member of the 4x100m relay team who have qualified on merit for the Asian Games,” said Harun.Disappointed to miss the Games, Siti said she would look to put up a good performance in the Asian Games.”I was looking forward to my debut in the Games but it was just unlucky that I injured my heel and could not train for few weeks.”Despite recovering from the injury, I failed to impress coach Harun in the Armed Forces meet and he advise me to skip the Games in New Delhi,” said Siti in Kuala Lumpur, adding that she would continue her training to make her debut in the Asian Games.I am satisfied and excited about CWG, says Suresh KalmadiUnder attack from all quarters but defiant nonetheless, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Sunday said his enthusiasm for the event remains intact and he can’t wait for it to get started come October 3.”I am a satisfied man. I am excited about the Games and can’t wait for it to start rolling,” Kalmadi told PTI in New Delhi as he took a tour of the Village to oversee the last-minute work going on in the campus spread over 63.5 hectares.advertisementAsked about the negative publicity that the Village got after foreign delegates complained about lack of hygiene and cleanliness, he said, “My job is to deliver the Games. The construction of venues was not done by me. I only wish if they were handed over to us much earlier and then we could have finished the overlaying works by now.””Look at the training area and great swimming pool. It took years to get all things done but I am satisfied with the way things have come about.”Showing off the eight-lane 400-metre synthetic running track in the Village, Kalmadi said, “I have aimed to give the best facilities to the athletes. The Games will be a great affair.”Asked about the last minute cleaning process that is going on at the residential towers in the Village, he said, “it will be completed soon. As far as water logging in some areas is concerned, it was because of the rains. Now that the sun has come out, water has receded and the rest has been pumped out.”Heli-borne assualt teams will protect athletes during CWGHeli-borne assault teams and commando hit teams will give protection to athletes while participating in marathon, walkathon and cycling events of Commonwealth Games.Elaborate security measures and traffic arrangements have been made for the road events which will take place on four days — October 9, 10, 13 and 14 — in and around Parliament Street and Noida.”All buildings on the routes where these events take place have been secured and sanitised. The telephone boxes and electric boxes have also been sanitised,” a senior police official said in New Delhi.Besides Quick Reaction Teams, the official said, Commando hit teams and heli-borne assault teams will also give security to those athletes participating in the road events.Many of the routes were the events take place has already been barricaded, he said. Police vehicles have also started taking rounds of these routes to ensure that no “mischief” is done.The trial event for cycling was held last month which provided a helping hand to security agencies in fine-tuning its strategy, the official said.The walkathon is scheduled on October nine while the Marathon is on October 14, the final day of the mega sporting event. Both these events will be held in and around Parliament Street.The cycling event is scheduled on October 10 and 13 and will be held also be here and Noida, the official said.All these events will start at 6:30 am.Traffic on the routes will be restricted during the event, the official said.”No traffic will be allowed to use the route of road events from the night before. Cross traffic on this route will not be allowed from 5.00 am on the day of the event till its completion,” the official said.With inputs from PTI