‘La Grange deserves our praise’

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Associated Press

Former president Nelson Mandela, assisted by Zelda La Grange, arrives at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. File photo: Denis Farrell

Johannesburg -

Nelson Mandela's former aide, Zelda la Grange, deserves kudos for everything she did for the former president, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Sunday.

“This is a moment to say to a person like Zelda who came from an Afrikaner family, we owe our gratitude to her,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

“She sacrificed her youth, her time. I don't think she had a boyfriend. It's time for us to express grateful appreciation.”

La Grange worked in the office of the president and when Mandela retired he asked her to be his personal assistant. She accepted, accompanying him almost everywhere locally and internationally.

The appointment was viewed by some as an olive branch to Afrikaners by Mandela. La Grange was to be a formidable assistant and Mapisa-Nqakula said she came to like her.

When Mandela died in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday, La Grange said in a statement: “Madiba will forever be present in my life because he made me into the human being I am today.

“I will cherish every smile, the pleasant but also the difficult times and especially my barefoot moments,” said La Grange.

“Thank you for all the wonderful opportunities you afforded me, but most of all thank you for believing in me... making me a better person, a better South African.” - Sapa

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