For 25 years, Robben Island, a former leper colony off the coast near Cape Town, was notorious as the prison which held Nelson Mandela.
After the release of the ANC leader and the collapse of apartheid, it was reborn as one of South Africa's most popular tourist attractions.
Now the island, described by one ANC activist as encapsulating the meaning of apartheid, has become symbolic not of the triumph of the human spirit but of the deep problems afflicting the Rainbow Nation. Foremost among them: crime, incompetence and corruption.
Managers of the Robben Island Museum, designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999, have been condemned for "gross mismanagement, fraud and outright theft".
The allegations contained in a forensic audit were leaked to South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper, leading one Robben Island board member to accuse the "management of the island of treating it like their own private ATM".
The museum has put out a statement saying its chief executive and two other senior staff members have been suspended "pending disciplinary proceedings", and the museum's management will be "restructured".
The report by a consultancy, Orca, had identified a massive hole in the museum's accounts sufficient, it concluded, to suggest evidence of criminal misconduct.
"For every rand received from tourism revenue, R2.50 was paid to staff. Salary increases were in excess of inflation and salary increases to executive management [were] 259 per cent between 2004-2007.
General salaries increased by 29 per cent between 2006-2007," the audit report found. "Costs [grew] six times faster than revenue."
While many of the allegations centre on the purchase of a new ferry to carry tourists to the island in Table Bay, the most serious problems appear to have occurred elsewhere.
Fuel intended for the ferry had been lost on such a large scale that the auditors concluded it could only have been "siphoned off".
The souvenir shop on Robben Island also appears to have been the source of fraud and theft. The report says "19 money bags went missing on 19 different days".
The shop's bank records were also adrift by almost R10 million ($1.9 million).
The island - 1km wide and about 12km from Cape Town - has been notorious as a place of imprisonment for more than 400 years. During the apartheid era it became infamous as the jail of some of apartheid's most high-profile opponents.
Among those suspended last week was Paul Langa, the former political prisoner turned museum chief executive who last month complained the museum was "crippled" by lack of funds.
Langa was himself appointed after a similar controversy had involved the previous management.