page 2012/41-33 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 33) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_033.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-33


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 33) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_033.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 33 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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At the Woodstock Hospital, a small provincial unit, I arranged to have a constant armed guard on the medical wing, not just armed prison warders but also police and security guards. One of the prison warders, a young officer, Christo Brand, was dressed in surgical gown and smock to go into the operating theatre...(p243)

Part of Gregory’s bid to become the major narrator of the warders’ experiences with the Rivonians depended on his establishing himself as the officer in charge. Yet it was highly unlikely that a warrant officer would have had sole responsibility for the country’s most important political prisoner. As Benjamin Pogrund comments in his email: ‘I thought I had got to as much truth and detail as was possible with him – except in one sphere, that of security. I was puzzled that here was the man put in charge of the country’s number one prisoner and yet he had only warrant officer rank. I would have expected more promotion over time. I had the earlier background of dealing with Robert Sobukwe on Robben Island [Pogrund wrote a biography of Sobukwe called How Can Man Die Better: Robert Sobukwe and Apartheid]: there was then a chief warder immediately in charge of him with a captain with fuller responsibility. There was a particular aspect which I failed to get to the bottom of: Madiba had told me of a time when for a while he had not received any letters from Madikizela-Mandela and the warder handling security used to taunt him about this, saying Madikizela-Mandela had ditched him. However, Madikizela-Mandela was visiting and told him she had written. Madiba complained and an investigation turned up a bunch of letters from Madikizela-Mandela in the security warder’s desk. Gregory said he did not know about this which left me a bit puzzled.’

The incident, according to Brand, concerned a Sergeant Fourie. Fourie was given to seeing conspiracies where none existed and would burn letters if he thought they contained coded messages. If he found photographs of children

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