The Presidential Years

When we came in in the morning we went to Mr Mandela’s office, and there was a young woman sitting behind the desk and we had no idea who she was. So we asked and she said she was part of a foreign affairs team which Minister Botha had negotiated with Mr Mandela or whoever to assist the process of coming into the Union Buildings. So we had a team under Chris Streeter of foreign affairs already in the building waiting for Mr Mandela to arrive and we had them between Mr Mandela and ourselves. That played out in the morning whilst we were waiting for him to arrive. When he came he found her in his office.

Fanie Pretorius - You can imagine, we were quite taken aback. We were ready to serve our new boss. That’s all we were there for: to serve the president. And somebody else was there without consulting us or even telling us. There was another team from another department, sitting there prepared to assist Mr Mandela. But we kept our pose; we didn’t hold it against them.

​ William Smith