page 2012/41-39 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 39) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_039.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-39


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 39) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_039.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 39 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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instead of taking me to the normal visiting area, ushered me into a separate room where there was only a small table, and no dividers of any kind. He very softly said to me that the authorities had made a change. That day was the beginning of what were known as ‘contact’ visits.

He then went outside to see my wife and daughter and asked to speak to Winnie privately. Winnie actually got a fright when Gregory took her aside, thinking that I was perhaps ill. But Gregory escorted her around the door and before either of us knew it, we were in the same room and in each other’s arms. (p615-616)

However, there is evidence of a terse incident between Gregory and Mandela, certainly an incident that is not recorded in Gregory’s book. This occurs on 17 June 1986 and concerns a letter to Mandela that has gone missing. In the book of his personal archive, Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself, Mandela writes (and this is the only time he mentions Gregory): W/O Gregory informs me in arrogant manner that the letter he misplaced is gone and that there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. He also states that nobody whatever his position can threaten him. The following day he notes: Had discussion with Maj Van Sittert re W/O Gregory. Major promises to take up matter as soon as W/O Gregory is available. (p297ff)

While it would be unwise to read too much into these statements, Gregory is presented as arrogant, self-important and defensive when charged with ‘misplacing’ a letter. Defensive, possibly, because as Christo Brand has observed, it was commonplace during Gregory’s term as censor for letters to go missing and, in fact, be destroyed. Gregory’s tone, as reported by Mandela, is certainly at a great many removes from the genial sycophant of Goodbye Bafana. Here is an angry man, a man who does not like being challenged by a prisoner even if that prisoner is one of the most important

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