Monday 22 January 2018

Laura Butler: 'I will never forget being in his presence'

Mandela set her on a path to political involvement, Melanie Verwoerd tells Laura Butler

Melanie Verwoerd
Melanie Verwoerd

'I met Madiba a few months after his release in 1990 and it was quite a scary moment to meet him because, of course, my then husband was the grandson of the prime minister under whose reign Madiba was imprisoned and the ANC was banned," recalls Melanie Verwoerd, the former South African ambassador to Ireland.

"Even though Wilhelm wanted to apologise to Madiba about his family's role in all of this, we didn't know if he wanted to speak to us.

"But he was so kind and warm and not only did he embrace us and tell us he was honoured to meet us, but he also sent regards to Wilhelm's grandfather.

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