page 2012/41-9 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 9) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_009.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-9


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 9) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_009.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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1 digital image
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Verne Harris

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Page 9 of Nelson Mandela's Warders
Jack Swart

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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would draw money from the account in Paarl. Sometimes I’d prepare meals and people wouldn’t pitch up. I remember one instance where a famous boxer failed to arrive, and three times Brenda Fassie never kept her arrangement. When that happened Mandela would ask us – Gregory, Marais, and me – to eat with him. He hated to see food go to waste. Once he even had leftover tomato soup for breakfast. The first Xmas he was there he celebrated with Winnie and his daughters so I made food for them. The next Xmas was a big affair so I ordered food from the mess, cold meat and salads.

‘My relationship with Mandela was easy. It was a bit strange in the beginning but soon it was just a job. When he got there he asked me if I was interested in politics, I told him no, and that was that. It was quite a formal relationship. When we talked it was about the weather, the mountain, my family. He was very easy, he never complained. He never got angry with me. But if he felt you got [the better of] him he wanted to get you back.’

One instance that Swart recalls concerns a bottle of sweet wine. At a lunchtime meeting with the minister of justice Kobie Coetsee at Pollsmoor, a bottle of riesling had been served. Mandela found the wine acidic and not to his taste. He instructed Swart to buy him something better to keep in stock. Swart bought Nederburg Special Late Harvest which met with Mandela’s approval. On one occasion when Ismail Ayob, Dullah Omar and George Bizos came for lunch at Victor Verster, Mandela suggested that Swart serve the late harvest. Swart ventured that his guests wouldn’t drink it.

‘"But how can you know that? You don't know them," Mandela said to me. I said that that type of person doesn't drink that wine. He said, "But it's not cheap wine." I said, "No, it isn't about cheap, but they won't drink it." Then he said, "Okay, buy two bottles of wine. Buy a bottle of dry wine and a bottle of

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