South Africa: Sports, Arts and Culture On Recent Robben Island Museum Developments

press release

Members of the press are hereby advised of these latest developments at the world heritage site museum - Robben Island Museum (RIM). The department has further noted the media statement issued by the former RIM Council Chairperson, Ms Bernedette Muthien dated 5 December 2019.

The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa appointed the current Council of the RIM on 1 July 2019, and as such, the Council has been in office for almost 5 months to date. During this period, the RIM Council could not function properly due to conflicting views among Council members on how the affairs of Council should be managed.

To this end, the Minister called a meeting on 28 November 2019 to mediate the impasse and allow for all issues plaguing the RIM Council to be ventilated upon and resolved amicably between the parties themselves. The meeting was necessary for a frank and an open discussion in line with the "audi alteram partem" principle where everyone is heard before any decision/s are taken.

The discussions during the aforesaid meeting were robust and frank to ascertain the root causes that will allow the collective to find appropriate and relevant solutions to the impasse. The Department wishes to place on record that, in the heat of the said discussions, Ms Muthien decided to walk out of the meeting. The Department viewed her conduct as unbecoming of a Council Member, let alone a Chairperson of Council who is expected to maintain the highest professional standards and to lead by example.

Further, the Department understood Ms Muthien's actions of leaving the meeting before time as the culmination of her expressed desire to resign as she had previously informed the Minister before the commencement of the meeting. Considering the above events, the Department resolved to relieve her of her appointment as a Council member and a Chairperson of the RIM. A letter in this regard has been issued to Ms Muthien.

The Department has moved swiftly to fill the vacuum left by Ms Muthiem and has appointed an Acting Chairperson who is the current Deputy Chairperson of Council, namely Ms Khensani Maluleke. Moreover, Advocate Michael Masutha and Ms Louisa Mabe have since been appointed to replace Ms Muthien and another Council member who has resigned. The Council is therefore fully constituted. A permanent Chairperson of the RIM Council will be announced soon.

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. Noteworthy is that none of the new Council members appointed on 1 July 2019 is implicated in the report. As such, the Department has requested the Council and other relevant persons to pursue all the matters (which include irregularities and breaches of governance) contained in the aforesaid report to their final conclusion.

Issued by: Department of Arts and Culture

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