Mandela’s lost pistol tantalizes buyers By Aislinn Laing
A house next to Liliesleaf farm which is going up for auction. Parts of the Liliesleaf farm grounds have been excavated and an adjoining property demolished, in search of an historic weapon buried by former South African President Nelson Mandela, half a century ago. The Makarov pistol, estimated to be worth 22 million rand ($3 million), was given to Mandela by Colonel Biru Tadesse of the Ethiopian Riot Battalion in Addis Ababa when he was on a trip to seek military assistance.
Photograph by: Stephane De Sakutin, AFP/Getty Images
A suburban house thought to have been built over the spot where Nelson Mandela buried the first weapon linked to the African National Congress’s armed resistance will go up for auction Thursday.
International buyers are said to be lining up to buy the property with the sole intention of digging up the gun and selling it abroad.
The worldwide attention is expected to push the sale price of 5 George Avenue in Rivonia, northern Johannesburg, well above the original asking price of three million rand ($683,600).
The Makarov pistol, thought to be buried beneath the three-bedroom house, was given to Mr Mandela by an Ethiopian colonel training him for the military campaign the ANC were to launch against the apartheid government. The missing weapon is worth an estimated 22 million rand ($3 million) but is also known to hold considerable sentimental value for the ailing 92-year-old statesman.
Mr Mandela buried the pistol in July 1962 in the grounds of Liliesleaf Farm, where he had been living in disguise as a houseboy and where he was subsequently arrested. He spent the next 27 years in jail before being released to become South Africa’s first black president in 1994.
During his imprisonment, several houses, including the house that is now up for sale, were built in the grounds of Liliesleaf.