Nelson Mandela memorabilia to be auctioned

JOHANNESBURG - The items include a chess set of figures from either side of the apartheid battle, and salt and pepper shakers of Mr Mandela and FW de Klerk.

The sale is expected to raise around $450,000 for charity.

Mr Mandela, who died in December aged 95, was revered around the world for fighting minority rule in South Africa.

He spent 27 years in prison, before being released in 1990 by Mr De Klerk, South Africa's last white ruler.

Mr Mandela became the country's first black president in 1994 and stepped down in 1999.

'Ostrich eggs'

The auction is being held on the eve of what would have been his 96th birthday.

"Nelson Mandela signed many, many, many things. And that's what I like about it [the auction]," said Savo Tufegdzic of Stephan Welz & Co, the firm that will put the items under the hammer.

"People always look for autographs, but there are only a handful of items signed by those celebrities. In the case of Nelson Mandela, every person can own a piece of him."

The chess set has pieces depicting Mr Mandela, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu facing off against apartheid leaders.

The set, which has some pieces missing, is thought to be worth between $950 and $1,400, the South African Press Association (Sapa) news agency reports.

"Our estimates are not high," Mr Tufegdzic is quoted as saying.

"It is not about making money on this auction. It is actually to encourage collecting. I don't want to go and encourage people to sell Mandela items. I want to encourage them to keep them."

The auction also includes objects ranging from statues, photographs, refrigerator magnets, ostrich eggs, medals, books and even a batch of 850 Chinese telephone cards emblazoned with Mr Mandela's image.

Some of the money raised would go to the Foundation for Rural Development run by Mr Mandela's grand-daughter Ndileka Mandela, Sapa reports.

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