ROBBEN Island Museum is adrift again. Its acting chief executive Professor Jatti Bredekamp is poised to depart, leaving our famous World Heritage Site once again without a leader.
There is also no Robben Island Museum council in place and it appears the national Department of Arts and Culture is having considerable trouble finding suitable people willing to serve, not to men-
tion a fulltime chief executive, to run the troubled museum.
This is after the entire council and the thenacting chief executive, Seelan Naidoo, quit last May amidst political wrangling.
A previous CEO and other top officials departed some time ago under a cloud of misconduct charges.
The museum has had the blemish of damning reports from the Auditor-General who highlighted incompetence with ticketing, control of assets and basic accounting.
Robben Island Museum has becomea by-word for ineptitude and chaos, not least because tourists have repeatedly been left disappointed at the quay- side when the multi-million rand ferry has failed to run. Indeed the Sikhululekile, the main tourist vessel, continues to be plagued with problems.
When Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana asked Bredekamp to help out at the museum, she reportedly termed the situation “volatile”, and admitted the institution was in a state of disarray.
Capetonians and our visitors can think of stronger ways to describe the dismal state of affairs at the museum – such as mortifying, disgraceful
and utterly unacceptable.
The Sea Princess, the replacement Robben Island ferry, hit a rock at the entrance to the island’s harbour on Thursday. This seems emblematic of the museum itself.
As we mark the 20th anniversary of political prisoners being freed from Robben Island and other apartheid jails, it is sad that the government seems incapable of running this historical site adequately.
It is high time for the Arts and Culture minister to turn the tide and restore our pride in an important national treasure that is quickly becoming a national embarrassment.