The farm that served as the nerve center of Nelson Mandela and other activists in their campaign to overturn South Africa’s apartheid regime risks permanent closure, according to British broadcaster Sky News.
The secret base at Liliesleaf Farm was used by leading figures of the country’s liberation struggle, including Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Joe Slovo, Denis Goldberg and Govan Mbeki, along with Mandela himself.
After huge losses of revenue during South Africa’s coronavirus lockdowns, the heritage site wasn’t able to obtain financial support from the government, said the site’s chief executive officer, Nicholas Wolpe.
A statement from the farm released in early September said the site had closed its doors “indefinitely.”
When Wolpe openly criticized South Africa’s arts and culture department for not helping, officials responded that farm managers had misused 8.1 million rand ($549,000) of department funds in 2015, Sky reported.
Wolpe denied the accusation, saying the money had been used for operational costs.
While Liliesleaf Farm had managed to stay away from “toxicity, corruption and maladministration” for years, now it found itself “embedded in it,” he continued.
Jane Mufamadi, CEO of the Freedom Park monument in neighboring Pretoria, remained optimistic despite a drop in visitors.
“There’s no denying the fact that we have challenges, but we are a hopeful nation and if we could overcome and if we could win against apartheid, we believe we can win against this,” she said.