page 2012/41-11 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 11) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_011.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-11


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 11) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_011.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 11 of Nelson Mandela's Warders
Jack Swart

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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because he wasn’t supposed to know that Mandela’s release was imminent. He watched Mandela get into the car and be driven away for a meeting with State President FW de Klerk at Tuynhuis in Cape Town. ‘I wasn’t sad,’ he recalls. For the rest of the day Swart went about his business, intending to return on the Saturday to clean up and to pack Mandela’s possessions. The next morning, there was Mandela waiting for breakfast. ‘Are you surprised to see me?’ he asked Swart.

‘He told me he wanted to go his way, not their way, and he had set the date for the Sunday. He was quite calm. I made him breakfast and after that he read the papers as he normally did. In the afternoon fourteen people arrived including Trevor Manuel and Dullah Omar. I didn’t prepare him anything special for that Saturday evening, in fact he ate the food I’d prepared for his trip to Johannesburg. He didn’t want to have it go to waste. On the Sunday he was unchanged. He had a nap early in the afternoon, despite the helicopters that had been overhead all morning. I remember he studied his speech in the little room. When he finally left the house he didn’t say anything to me, he just touched me on my shoulder. After he’d gone I found his glasses and his speech and told Marais. Marais eventually got hold of Manuel but he said they had another copy of the speech.’

As the cavalcade drove away and the helicopters moved off, Swart and twelve men from the prisons department (including Marais and Gregory), national intelligence and the security branch were left at the house. They opened cans of beer, lit a braai and cooked meat and sausages supplied by the commanding officer. Swart remembers thinking that it was a relief that everything was over. By seven their braai was finished and the men went home, where Swart watched news clips of Mandela addressing the crowds on Cape Town’s Grand Parade.

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