The letter by Nelson Mandelas which fetched R65 000 at an auction in Hilton. Picture: Shan Pillay

Durban - “Going once, going twice”... an authentic letter written by Nelson Mandela to the registrar at Unisa in Pretoria to submit an assignment and enquire about tutorials on Wednesday fetched R65 000 at an auction in Hilton on Wednesday.

And a photograph of him, which he had autographed, yielded R5 000.

Once word spread on Saturday about the letter going on auction, Cannon and Cannon Auctioneers were flooded with calls. On Wednesday there were three telephone bids for the letter, from the US, London and South Africa. The foreigners were outbid. There were also two buyers in the audience.

The winner did not want to speak to the media or have his name divulged. Before the bid began, David Cannon announced that the sale was subject to confirmation by the seller, a Pietermaritzburg man. He got the letter while he worked at Unisa, when it had been posted to the institution.

The bid started at R100 000 then dropped to R20 000 before being sold to auction number 1142.

The letter was written in 1977 by Mandela while he was imprisoned on Robben Island.

In it, Mandela said he was sending his assignment 1/1977 in Economics (I) to the Pretoria office because the Unisa regional office in Cape Town, with which he was registered, had not provided him with a student number.

[email protected]

The Mercury