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The Robben Island tour for only R30 000
A select few have been offered the chance to take part in an exclusive, and expensive, tour of Robben Island, reports Justin Pierce

Fancy a jaunt to Robben Island in the company of Nelson Mandela? The experience could be yours for R30 000 -- but only if you are lucky enough to have been included on the exclusive invitation list drawn up by an organisation called Peace Visions.

The invitation sent to businesses promises a weekend "which will include networking with cabinet ministers and our president, and give you an opportunity to meet the broader pool of ex-islanders that has, in more ways than one, shaped our president".

Other events to take place between February 9 and 12 include an opportunity to be photographed in Mandela's former cell, and the planting of trees which will be identified by plaques bearing the names of the companies which are represented. There will also be a "full day exclusive tour of Robben Island including lunch and meeting with ex-islanders, warders and government representatives."

The companies which received invitations are each invited to send one representative at a cost of
"R30 000 (or more) per corporation". The invitation assures them that "your very selective participation is a direct result of your identifiable continued support in the development and planning of our new nation".

Participants are also promised "numerous special privileges that will be afforded you and your company, and as an exclusively selected participant one highlight will certainly be the personal satisfaction of being part of this historic event. This can only lead to peace and prosperity for all in our country!"

Sapa reports that 1 200 people, including former prisoners and National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party cabinet ministers are to attend the reunion and a "consultative conference" on the future of the island.

According to the invitation, the "reunion" is to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Mandela's release from Robben Island. Mandela was in fact released from Victor Verster prison near Paarl in 1990, having been transferred from the Island to Pollsmoor in 1982.

"Our approach is to access the notion of memory," said Peace Visions director Naiem Dollie. "We believe it is vitally important that there be a public acknowledgement of the cumulative memory of those who were imprisoned on Robben Island."