page 2012/41-26 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 26) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_026.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-26


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 26) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_026.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 26 of Nelson Mandela's Warders

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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bucket Ford Cortina for R250, which Brand likewise fixed, both the bodywork and the engine.

In 1978 he matriculated and rather than undergo compulsory national service, he signed up with the department of prisons.

‘In 1977, a friend, we were very close, was killed on the border,’ Brand recalls. ‘He left school in standard eight and joined the military. I felt terrible when I heard about his death. I didn’t want to be killed in this war. Then my nephew was put in prison for not doing his military service so I looked for alternatives: the police or the prison service.’

His six-months training at Kroonstad was modelled on military lines: drilling, physical training (PT), weapons training, lectures on first aid and criminal law. After three months the recruits were given experience in the toughest sections of Kroonstad prison.

‘Sometimes late at night we would be taken to search the prisoners. For me it was just a job to teargas them, or set the dogs on them. I saw a prisoner grab a warder, take off his watch and swallow it. Sometimes the warders would get the prisoners to attack us to toughen us up. You see this guy with tattoos spit at you, swear at you, you’re afraid even though you’re in a group. Kroonstad broke you down, and then the Island broke us down again. They were brutal to us.’

Brand’s first night on the Island was harrowing. The new recruits were assembled in a hall and made to serve wine to the sergeants and the old timers. If they spilt anything they were whipped. They were forced to drink seawater and liquor. Eventually they were piled into a bakkie and driven to the farthest end of the island. From there they had to push the bakkie back

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