page 2012/41-12 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 12) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_012.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-12


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 12) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_012.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 12 of Nelson Mandela's Warders
Jack Swart; James Gregory

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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‘The next morning when I opened the house, it was a bit strange thinking that Mandela wasn’t there,’ recalls Swart. ‘I got in some women to clean the house, because I didn’t clean it like a woman cleans. I think only long afterwards, after the election in 1994, when we got the invitations from Mandela to attend the first opening of parliament and the inauguration did I feel that it was real, that it was a helluva experience.’

Despite the prison department’s promises to Swart that he would be promoted after his assignment with the special prisoner at Victor Verster, it took an intervention by Mandela to bring this about. In 1996, at the age of forty-nine, Swart took an early retirement package. Since then he has worked at a number of jobs: first as a bus driver for a school, then as a farm manager, and for the last four years as the dispatcher delivering medicines for a pharmacist.

‘That other time with Mandela is long ago and it is over,’ he says. ‘I don’t want to be included in it. It’s over, gone.’

James Gregory

Of the three warders, James Gregory had the longest association with Mandela, spanning the period 1968-1990. Between 1975 and 1982 Gregory was based on the mainland while Mandela was on Robben Island, but during this time he continued to censor the letters sent and received by the political prisoners on Robben Island.

Gregory’s autobiography, Goodbye Bafana, is the only source of Gregory’s life. As has been noted his widow Gloria has not read the book but regards it as a true account. His ghost writer, Bob Graham, will not respond to queries

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