page 2012/41-32 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 32) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_032.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-32


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 32) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_032.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 32 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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Of course Brand was not solely in charge of the Rivonians. There was also James Gregory who although also a warrant officer had a higher ranking within that category than Brand. Overseeing them was a Captain Swart who, according to Brand, placed the full responsibility in their hands. The relationship between Brand and Gregory was terse but not unfriendly. In both men’s accounts of the Pollsmoor years, they centre themselves in the narrative. In 1982 Gregory had badly injured his knee. He stayed home on crutches for six weeks, but was eager to return to Pollsmoor and the preparations being made there for the arrival of Mandela and other Rivonians from Robben Island. Apparently he was privy to them, indeed, by his account these preparations were even dependent on Gregory’s health!

I knew from various calls with [Brigadier] Munro that a date had still not been decided for the move for Nelson and the three others. We still did not even know who the other three were to be. At one stage I was told that the whole transfer had been delayed by my fall and injury. I returned to work at the start of March, still unable to walk without the aid of the crutches. (p196)

While Gregory was anticipating the event, Brand was suddenly thrust into it and ordered to Cape Town harbour to pick up his charges. Once he had delivered them to Pollsmoor he was told he was to oversee Mandela’s section. According to Brand, a hobbled Gregory spent most of this time in the office.

Despite having worked together since 1979, the first mention of Christo Brand in Gregory’s autobiography is in February 1983 when Mandela is admitted to Woodstock Hospital for two minor procedures to remove an ingrown toenail and a cyst behind his ear. Once again Gregory occupies the pivotal position in the narrative:

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