On Friday, 28 April 1995 President Mandela officially visited Montagu, Western Cape Province. The event was in celebration of Montagu’s 100 years of its municipality and the first year of its transitional council.
At the time I was a Major in the SA Police Service and the Protective Detail Leader for the event. As usual for a public event we had a fairly large protection team in place. Within the security fraternity we quickly learned to plan to counter Mr. Mandela’s impulsive characteristic to want to ‘greet the world’.
On disembarking from the helicopter at the Montagu Hospital Mr Mandela instantly deviated from the program by insisting on walking through the hospital. After a belated freshening up session at Kingna Lodge we departed for the town square where a huge crowd was anxiously awaiting our arrival. The crowd was rowdy and a member of the public sustained injuries as result of pushing and shoving.
To top it all Mr Mandela called me to the stage indicating (as per the photograph) his wish to walk through the middle of the crowd to the opposite side of the square. I was concerned and tactfully declined but the President insisted. The nervousness can also be detected on the face of the late Mary Mxadana (President Mandela’s PA) in the background. Needless to say, Mr Mandela’s gesture took the wind out of the crowd’s sails and as he walked through the crowd, they were surprisingly well behaved. Our walk went without incident.
Quote: "Within the security fraternity we quickly learned to plan to counter Mr. Mandela’s impulsive characteristic to want to ‘greet the world’."