I was part of the Western Cape Anti-Crime Forum delegation that met with Nelson Mandela on 15 October 1997. As leaders of the delegation, we met with him as our President to seek an end to the killings on the Cape Flats between gangsters and Pagad. Our delegation included about 30 different organisations that had expressed concerns about the ongoing violence.
It was the closest that I have ever gotten to Mandela after seeing him so many times at ANC rallies. Here I was sitting in a meeting with him! Our delegation was already seated when he entered the cabinet room. My knees started shaking and I wondered how I ever will state the demands of the organization that he fires some national and provincial ministers that were responsible for our safety.
He immediately greeted everyone in the room and I could not forget thinking that here I finally have the opportunity to physically meet this giant, this legend. He shook my hand with complete firmness. I did not want to wash my hand thereafter. We proceeded to meet him and the meeting expressed concerns that we would lose confidence in his ability as president to protect us, if he did not act to help our people.
On the morning of the 16th I received a telephone call from the Presidency and I was invited to take a helicopter tour with Mandela over the affected areas. I felt so honoured and I knew that he listened to us and took us seriously.
In the helicopter I sat back to back with him. It was unbelievable. He had an effect on me that I cannot explain. I could not even eat for the rest of the day.
During the helicopter tour, we went to Elsies River, Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. We met the people in these communities and he addressed the people.
This showed that he cared about our people.
This is the story I will share with my grandchildren and they will hear about it every day.
Quote: "I knew that he listened to us and took us seriously."