page 2012/41-41 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 41) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_041.jpg]

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


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 41) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_041.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 41 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 instruction of the minister of justice. It is highly unlikely that the minister (who died in 2000) would have placed this responsibility in the hands of a warrant officer.

Gregory writes, The shackles were being more than loosened when I was told by Kobie Coetsee, Minister of Justice, that we should take Nelson on a number of discreet visits around the countryside – wherever he wished to go. The Minister took me to one side. ‘Greg, if Mr Mandela wishes to be taken anywhere within reason, then you don’t need anyone’s permission. I’ve given you carte blanche to go anywhere, anytime you wish. All I ask is that you make the proper arrangements and ensure safety and security are number one priorities. The order was, in many ways, simply unbelievable. Here we were with a man who was now considered the most high profile prisoner in the world, and yet I was being told to take him out anytime, anywhere he wished. I knew there would not be a problem – not with Nelson. But the entire concept was incredible: a prisoner being taken on day trips. (p277)

Gregory’s final appearance in Long Walk to Freedom comes as Mandela prepares to leave Victor Verster. In this passage he also mentions Brand and Swart. There were dozens of people at the house, and the entire scene took on the aspect of a celebration. Warrant Officer Swart prepared a final meal for all of us and I thanked him not only for the food he had provided for the last two years but also the companionship. I embraced him warmly. In the years that he had looked after me from Pollsmoor to Victor Verster, we had never discussed politics, but our bond was an unspoken one and I would miss his soothing presence. Men like Swart, Gregory and Warrant Officer Brand reinforced my belief in the essential humanity even of those who had kept me behind bars for the previous twenty-seven and a half years. (p672)

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