The late Nelson Mandela flanked by widow Graca Machel and late ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Picture: AP

Nelson Mandela once said: “I can’t help it if the ladies take note of me. I am not going to protest.” Madiba’s friendly smile and suave manner have charmed many a woman over the years. Even in old age, he captivated a bevy of beauties, including celebrities like Charlize Theron, Princess Diana, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. 

Mandela surrounded by catwalk queens Erin O'Connor, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Elle MacPherson. Picture: Reuters

The former president was married three times, but at least one woman was immune to his charms. Anti-apartheid activist Amina Cachalia turned down a wedding proposal from the great statesman in the mid-1990s, according to her son Ghaleb. 

Amina Cachalia is one of the activists who marched to the Union Buildings on the anti-pass issue in 1956. Picture: Phill Magakoe

In her autobiography, Amina says after her husband Yusuf’s death in 1995, there were “romantic interludes” with Mandela. Ghaleb said his mother rejected Mandela because Yusuf was the love of her life. 

In 1998, Madiba married his third wife, Graca Machel. Mandela also famously reduced a few ladies to tears upon meeting them. 

Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings in Pretoria May 9, 2009. Picture: Reuters/Steve Crisp

In 2004, Charlize Theron received a heroine’s welcome from Madiba when she returned to South Africa after winning an Oscar for her role in the film Monster. When the two came face to face, Charlize shook Mandela’s hands, burst into tears and told him: “I love you so much.” 

Charlize Theron weeps at her meeting with Nelson Mandela during her visits to the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton Johannesburg March 11, 2004. Picture: Reuters/Juda Ngwenya

Supermodel Naomi Campbell once confessed she “always gets teary” when she talks about Madiba because he never judged her.

Naomi Campbell gifts Madiba with a Versace shirt. Picture: Leon Muller