Response to Mr Mpho Masemula public interview regarding The World Heritage Site, Robben Island

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04 Mar 2020

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture notes the utterances made by Mr Mpho Masemula on the state of affairs at Robben Island Museum during an interview on Morning Live TV programme dated 21 February 2020, including the damning statements he made against the staff of Robben Island Museums, Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and the Ministry.

The investigation Mr Masemula refers to in his interview was actually commissioned by the Minister, and was prompted by concerns raised by the same Ex Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) he purports to represent. The said Association registered 19 allegations against the RIM, all of which formed the basis of the terms of reference for the Morar investigation. It is therefore far from the truth that the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture has avoided acting on the issues raised by EPPA.

A bulk of the allegations raised by the EPPA were found (through an independent investigation) to be devoid of facts and/or could not be substantiated by evidence. The investigation revealed that only 4 out of the 19 allegations were found to be worth pursuing further and institute disciplinary processes. Further, the statements made by EPPA relating to “white monopoly capital”, Dooryard mafia, people stealing at RIM for the past 10 years, exclusion of Ex Political Prisoners, etc. are all speculative and are not substantiated by evidence.

The Department also wishes to place on record that it has no intentions to abandon the findings and recommendations of the Morar forensic investigation report, especially the findings that have been flagged as worthy of pursuing further. The Board of RIM will lead this process. Also noteworthy is that none of the new Board members (appointed on 1 July 2019) is implicated in the report. As such, Mr Masemula’s call for the disbandment of the Board is baseless.

It is also not true that the EPPA has been excluded from the activities of RIM. Below is a snippet of EPPA involvement in RIM activities.

  • The EPPA has a representative on the Board of RIM. The Department made this special arrangement, recognizing the significance of the EPPA as stakeholder at RIM.
  • An Advisory Committee on EPP has been established as a committee of the Board to tackle issues relating to Ex Political Prisoners and the core mandate of the Museum, which Mr Masemula is deliberately omitting in his statements/interview
  • Further, in the current staff establishment of RIM, there are a number of EPPs who are employed permanently.
  • Moreover, the EPPs are involved in a number of projects that are funded by RIM, including the Memorialisation and the Bluestone Quarry project.    

The Department wishes to acknowledge the closing remarks made by the SABC’s Morning Live host that the interview with Mr Masemula would be the basis of a series of conversations that should happen with those that are implicated by Mr Masemula. As such, the Department is looking forward to an opportunity to exercise its right to reply (on same TV programme) to all the allegations made by Mr Masemula during his interview.